Popular Wis. pizza chain expands to E.L.

Despite tough times for pizza businesses, Toppers Pizza has mounted the dough and plans to open its first Michigan location in December at 1219 E. Grand River Ave.

Known for its cheesy “Topperstix” bread sticks, the pizza chain has gained popularity in Wisconsin for its versatile menu — which includes 17 gourmet pizzas, grinders, Buffalo wings and quesadillas, said Abbey Freeman, a Toppers spokesperson.

“We’re real popular with the college kids — 18- to 24-year-olds are the target audience,” Freeman said. “We like to be involved with our customers and we’re who they call when they have a party.”

Toppers Pizza to open in December

Toppers Pizza plans to open its first Michigan location on Dec. 6 at 1219 E. Grand River Ave.

The pizza chain offers bread sticks, grinders, Buffalo wings, quesadillas and 17 gourmet pizzas.

Managers plan to hand out coupons and freebies to let students know about the new location.

The pizza joint, which currently has 20 locations in four states, will be in the building previously operated by Papiano’s Pizza.

Source: Topper’s Pizza

Overnight campouts were a regular occurrence at Toppers openings in Wisconsin as the result of a deal the delivery and carry-out business offers to the first 50 customers at each new location.

Dubbed as “free food for a year,” the prize allows customers to receive one free item on the menu each week for 52 weeks.

To familiarize MSU students with the pizza shop, managers plan to travel on foot and hand out free coupons to students, said Ryan Kaminski, owner of the East Lansing location.

The restaurant plans to open Dec. 6 in the location previously occupied by Papiano’s Pizza.

Construction is near completion and customers will be greeted with bright colors, lounge chairs and large window sills.

“It’s laid back with couches and lounge chairs,” Kaminski said.

“You can eat-in or order out, but most of the business is delivery.”

Toppers has 20 locations in four states, but about 10 more locations are in development, according to a company press release.

Kaminski said gaining a strong customer-following in Michigan will be a challenge due to the pizza shop’s novelty in the area, but he hopes its popularity in other states will carry over.

But local owners said their industry is no exception to the economic hard times that have hit Michigan businesses.

“It’s tough for business, just like every place else, but we’re still doing well because of MSU and the city of East Lansing,” said Vakis Nicolaou, owner of Georgio’s Gourmet Pizza, 1010 E. Grand River Ave. “We’re drawing in a lot of customers from those areas.”

Instead of hindering business growth, having Toppers open up nearby might help draw people into the area, said Habib Jarwan, owner of Bell’s Greek Pizza, 1135 E. Grand River Ave.

“We already have a good name and good clients, so adding more restaurants might help business,” Jarwan said.

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