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December 11, 2023

In major expansion push, New Haven-born Sally’s Apizza targets Greater Hartford, Eastern Seaboard

PHOTO/RENDERING | CONTRIBUTED (Top) Sally’s Apizza in Stamford. (Above) A rendering of a potential future Sally’s Apizza featuring a drive-thru.

Sally’s Apizza for decades was a family-owned eatery serving up pies from one New Haven location, but its current owners plan to bring its famous Italian cuisine to hungry customers in restaurants along the Eastern Seaboard.

Lineage Hospitality, which bought Sally’s Apizza in December 2017, has already opened new restaurants and plans to accelerate its expansion in the months ahead.

Ted Zizlsperger, chief operating officer at Sally’s Apizza, said Lineage Hospitality saw the popularity of the brand, with people waiting in long lines and coming from out of state to visit.

Since taking ownership from the Consiglio family, Lineage Hospitality has been focused on growing the company.

“We’re really excited to bring Sally’s to more neighborhoods,” Zizlsperger said.

‘Great partnership’

Salvatore “Sally” Consiglio founded Sally’s Apizza in New Haven in 1938, and it has been a landmark Wooster Square dining destination for the decades since, attracting customers like Frank Sinatra and Hillary Clinton.

While Consiglio’s sons, Ricky and Bobby Consiglio, sold the business, they are still involved. They act as consultants, providing quality control and advice on what the guest experience should be and ensuring the product tastes the same at all restaurants. They occasionally work in the restaurants, but no longer have to focus on daily operations.

“We want to honor the legacy of what their father built,” Zizlsperger said. “It’s a great partnership.”

Sally’s Apizza is already shipped nationwide via online mail-order food marketplace Goldbelly, but the company is bringing the in-restaurant experience to more customers.

Sally’s in the past two years added restaurants at 66 Summer St., in Stamford, and 665 Commerce Drive, in Fairfield.

Before the end of 2023, Sally’s is slated to debut its first brick-and-mortar location outside of Connecticut — in Woburn, Massachusetts. As of early December, workers were putting finishing touches on the Woburn site.

New eateries are on track to open in Connecticut in 2024, on the Silas Deane Highway in Wethersfield, in the SoNo Collection mall in Norwalk and in Meadow Commons on the Berlin Turnpike in Newington. A Boston, Massachusetts restaurant is also opening next year in the city’s Seaport district.

“We like to target large suburban lifestyle centers,” Zizlsperger said. “There are a lot of things opening up in the Hartford area for us in the next 12 to 18 months.”

The company doesn’t just want to open as many restaurants as possible in as many places as possible.

“We’re very strategic in our growth,” he said.

Sally’s Apizza next spring will also open a location at Westfarms mall, inside the Farmington shopping center’s new anchor store, Jordan’s Furniture. The town of Farmington’s Building Department granted Sally’s a permit in November for its mall project.

Contractor James J. Welch & Co., of Salem, Massachusetts, estimated Sally’s Westfarms build-out would cost $1.4 million.

Heather Copelas, a spokesperson for Jordan’s Furniture, said the company plans to open its Westfarms retail location this month.

Sally’s Apizza has targeted several other potential development markets, according to its website.

That includes Danbury and Manchester, Connecticut; Providence, Rhode Island; Lake Grove, Melville and Garden City, New York; and Framingham, Newton, Cambridge, Watertown and Burlington, Massachusetts.

Florida is another planned market for the company, which has targeted potential locations in Miami, Coral Gables, Aventura, Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood, Boca Raton, Delray Beach, West Palm Beach and Palm Beach Gardens.

Lineage Hospitality hired Massachusetts-based The Moseley Group — which consults for a range of businesses, from restaurants to hotels — to help with its expansion efforts.

“They helped us really get what our vision was of what Sally’s could be outside of New Haven,” Zizlsperger said.

Wholly-owned company

Sally’s Apizza’s recent annual revenue has averaged between $3.8 million to $4.5 million, according to Zizlsperger, who expects the numbers to increase as more locations launch.

He noted that it is a wholly-owned company, and not a franchise model, and will remain that way.

“We want to control quality, the people we hire, and the guest experience from start to finish,” Zizlsperger said.

Eventually, Sally’s may eye a westward expansion, but its current focus is on the East Coast. While there will be some similarities in the designs of the new restaurants, there will be variations between locations.

“When you walk into a Sally’s — you’re gonna know you’re in a Sally’s, with the red and white tile brick coal-fired oven,” Zizlsperger said. “That will be our centerpiece.”

Every new Sally’s will have wood paneling and signed music memorabilia and artwork. The setup of tables and booths will vary between locations, to give each site a different look and feel, he noted.

The original Sally’s doesn’t have a bar and seats about 70 people. The new restaurants will have full-service bars and accommodate between 100 and 130 people.

“Each design is going to be unique to the neighborhood and space,” Zizlsperger said.

Sally’s Apizza in 2022 announced it was exploring the addition of drive-thrus at its new locations.

At the time, it indicated the design could potentially scale to 2,000 units serving a million people daily.

However, Zizlsperger said having eateries with drive-thru service is a longer-term goal.

“That’s something in our path and in our future, but a little further off,” Zizlsperger said.

In addition to its geographical expansion, Sally’s has been building on its menu. In addition to pizza, it also offers a range of Italian cuisine, such as chicken and eggplant Parmesan, appetizers, sandwiches, salads, bruschetta, desserts and cocktails.

CT pizza goes national

Sally’s joins other Connecticut pizza chains that are on a growth trajectory.

Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana, which launched in New Haven in 1925, now has several restaurants in Connecticut, along with eateries in Florida, Massachusetts, Maryland, New York, Rhode Island and Virginia.

The much younger Riko’s Pizza, founded as a single-location family business in Stamford in 2011, has also expanded into multiple sites, including Connecticut, New York and Florida, with a Charleston, South Carolina eatery opening soon.

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