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COPPELL, TX-Locally based CiCi Enterprises LP, operator of CiCi’s Pizza, is gearing up to expand, targeting Southern California and Central New Jersey for the next 100 openings. The first restaurants are scheduled to open during early summer 2009.

CiCi Enterprises’ vice president for real estate John Baldwin tells GlobeSt.com that Southern California was targeted for its almost perfect demographics: Anglo and Hispanic middle-class families. “We do very well with middle class families, and there’s lots of them out there,” Baldwin says. The first CiCi’s restaurant will open somewhere in San Diego County, he adds.

Central New Jersey, on the other hand, has a different landscape with a lot of pizza places. Baldwin says CiCi Enterprises is doing very well in the central Pennsylvania market, and it made sense to push toward Philadelphia and New Jersey. “It’s a tougher go there,” he acknowledges. “They want us, but there’s mom-and-pop pizza restaurants out there.” However, the demographics are positive. Furthermore, “CiCi’s is pizza, salad, desert, pasta,” Baldwin says. “The other pizza places are good, but more expensive. If you go into one of those places and buy a pizza, you’re looking at $12, and that won’t even feed the kids.”

Ideal sites for CiCi’s restaurants are shopping centers with easy access and good parking. The centers can be grocery-anchored, or anchored by a big-box retailer such as Wal-Mart or Target. Regardless, “it needs to be some place where mom and dad to on a frequent basis, and can see us,” Baldwin says. “We like to be seen.”

The CiCi’s buffet restaurants are approximately 4,200 square feet and can seat about 180 people. A newer takeout-only concept, CiCi’s To Go measures 800-1,000 square feet and doesn’t offer dine-in seating.

To accommodate the expansion into California and New Jersey, the company has re-organized its real estate division, bringing former Starbucks executive Baldwin on board in 2008. Recently, CiCi Enterprises promoted Brooke Schroder to director of real estate and hired Rachel Blessing, a former Arby’s real estate manager. Baldwin says plans are in the works to hire more staff this year.

“We’re waiting for the economy to tick up,” he comments, adding that same-store sales are growing and new stores are coming out of the chute very well. “We’re doing well, very well. But like everyone else, we’re slowing a little because of lack of available financing.”

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