LAKEVIEW — Toppers Pizza plans to open 10 Chicago-area stores by the end of 2015, starting with shops in Wrigleyville, Bucktown and Lincoln Park.
The Wisconsin-based chain focuses on takeout and delivery, and is known for kooky toppings like mac 'n cheese and tater tots. It has more than 50 locations across 10 states, including two in Chicago at 727 S. State St. and 120 S. Halsted St.
"Chicago is right in our backyard," founder and president Scott Gittrich said. "We have pretty well grown out all of Wisconsin. ... What we want to do in Chicago is come in relatively quickly with a lot of stores to build brand penetration."
The goal is to open a Wrigleyville location at 3404 N. Sheffield Ave. by Dec. 11, Gittrich said. There are also plans for Lincoln Park and Bucktown spots at 2428 N. Lincoln Ave. and 1658 N. Milwaukee Ave., respectively. Opening dates for those locations haven't been determined.
At least seven other Chicago-area stores, including one in southwest suburban Evergreen Park, should follow by the end of 2015.
Details were still being finalized, but director of franchise development Mark Cairns said Toppers is targeting neighborhoods with younger residents and high population density. North Siders can expect at least a couple locations along the lake.
"Our stores are open late, and we serve a super high-quality product," Cairns said. "It really hits a sweet spot with our customers — young millennial professionals seeking a great delivery option in their area."
Gittrich said the majority of Toppers' business comes from takeout and delivery orders. There's limited seating inside each location.
The fast-casual chain focuses on fresh ingredients, and each store makes dough from scratch daily. Toppings range from classic pepperoni and sausage to "taco topper," which includes ground beef, tortilla chips, sour cream and salsa.
Gittrich said he thinks Toppers will find a fan base in the city.
"Chicago's a great pizza city," he said. "It's one of those cities where everybody has a strong pizza opinion.
"We make our food from scratch. We just do pizza right. It's a hearth-baked style pizza. It's not what you would call a Chicago pizza, of course. It's closer to California style."
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