CT’s Rico faces Stanford eviction even as pizzeria grows

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Riko’s Pizza is battling possible eviction from one of its two restaurants in its hometown of Stamford, as it draws attention to its up-and-coming pizzeria franchise business in Connecticut, New York and Florida.

After opening its newest restaurant north of Miami, Riko’s plans four more new locations, bringing the total to nine. These include Boston Post Road in Darien and Black Rock Turnpike in Fairfield, another pizzeria in Florida, Hempstead on Long Island, and a pizzeria in New York.

But in January, the New Canaan-based landlord of Rico’s Springdale location filed a complaint in Connecticut Superior Court, asking a judge to order an eviction over claims of non-payment of rent.

Best known for its hot oil pizza recipes, Riko’s offers hot oil pizza recipes, like the current promotion of a “Hot Honey” pizza with pepperoni, ricotta cheese and basil, which sells for about $14.50 at a Connecticut restaurant. It features thin-crust pies that have ventured into limited-edition varieties. Regular menu items are $11 cheese pizza and $18 Nashville hot chicken pizza.

In Thursday morning’s filing, Riko’s told the Stamford Housing Session to compel landlord TPW Partners to provide an itemized list of the specific rents it claims to owe before submitting a formal response. I asked.

New Canaan’s TPW Principal Prakash Wadhwani is a seasoned franchisee who runs multiple Mooyah Burgers and Kennedy’s All-American Barber Club in Connecticut.

Riko’s co-owners Rico Imbrogno and Luigi Cardillo Jr. did not comment on CT Insider’s questions about the lawsuit and larger franchise expansion plans. In response to a post on its Facebook page, Riko’s said last weekend that it has no plans to close its Springdale restaurant, which opened in 2016.

Riko’s base rent at 886 Hope Street is approximately $6,750 per month and expires in 2022, according to TPW’s lease documents on court records. That initial lease included a tenancy option to extend the lease for five years, provided Rico’s gave at least six months’ notice of its desire and the lease agreement was otherwise in good standing. .

In December, a real estate broker listed Rico’s Hope Street location as available for rent at $45 per square foot, not including utilities. That was the third-highest lease rate for restaurant space listed for rent in Connecticut on the LoopNet commercial real estate website as of Thursday, after vacancies in Greenwich and New Canaan. In translation, the new rent at 886 Hope Street equates to $9,350 a month, 38% higher than what Rico’s was asking for in 2022.

Last year, Riko’s relocated its West Stamford side street restaurant to a location on busy West Main Street just off the Greenwich Line, providing an outlet for continued deliveries in the Stamford area.

The other is opening a store in Darien, where the store space is limited. Riko’s will open in front of Darien Social and Louie’s Italian Restaurant & Bar, across from the Metro-North station in downtown Boston Post Road.

Riko’s began offering franchises in 2018, looking to export the concept nationwide in a crowded niche. Late last year, a pizza hall of fame was proposed in New Haven in recognition of the nationally renowned entity Connecticut’s parade, which includes Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana in the top spot and Sally’s Apizza. ranked him ninth.

In another market with no shortage of whimsical pizza lovers — Long Island — Riko’s has the highest Yelp rating as of Wednesday in Levittown, N.Y., even though it only opened in September 2020. Owned and held its own position. Yelp reviewers ranked the company’s pizzerias in Stanford’s Top 6 on Tripadvisor, but they lag behind local rival Colony Pizza.

Riko’s website lists franchises in metropolitan Boston, Albany, New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, DC markets, as well as unspecified locations in Carolina, Georgia, and Texas. To acquire a Riko’s franchise, an entrepreneur must be able to prove his $100,000 liquid capital and the founding team must include at least one person with experience in the food industry. .

The company is charging an upfront franchise fee of $30,000 (the same one that was required to launch the franchise in 2018), but Riko’s Pizza stores will cost between $520,000 and $700,000 to launch. Estimated. At least the master developer, who plans to open three locations, will only pay $15,000 each for her two restaurants in the second.

Riko’s collects a 6% annual royalty on franchise sales.

Includes advance reporting by Andrew DeRosa, Leanne Griffin, and Rob Merchant.; @casoulman


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