Warren Kingsbury's grandchildren missed Peter Piper Pizza restaurants so much when they moved to Southern California a couple of years ago that the Chandler man decided to build them some.
Kingsbury landed Peter Piper franchise rights for San Bernadino and Riverside counties and plans to build at least five versions of the Scottsdale-based pizza-and-play chain in Southern California.
He already has a site picked out in Rancho Cucamonga, his extended family's new hometown, and he expects to build one eatery a year for the next handful of years.
The grandkids' appetites fit perfectly with the local chain's expansion plans, said Peter Piper CEO Frank Sbordone.
The company currently has 139 restaurants, 42 of them company-owned and the rest franchised.
Sbordone plans to keep opening company-owned restaurants in Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.
He has 10 under development, including a version at Mesa Riverview, slated to open in May, and one at Queen Creek and Higley roads, expected to open before year's end.
But that leaves little time to explore other opportunities to grow the brand.
"Because major markets take time to develop, we are focusing on these and looking for investors to develop others," Sbordone said.
The company has identified some targeted markets where the chain is likely to be a hit, and Southern California is a key one, Sbordone said. Currently, only two eateries in San Diego keep Southern California Peter Piper fans content.
Kingsbury operated a collection of Dairy Queens until about nine years ago when he decided to quit the daily business grind to spend more time with his grandchildren and his real estate investments. Now his grandchildren are causing him to jump back in and are giving him an excuse to spend half his time with them, he said.
Meanwhile Peter Piper is looking to make a major corporate move too. In August the company will relocate from its headquarters at Kierland Commons on the Scottsdale-Phoenix border to new and bigger digs at the North Loop 101 Business Center at Seventh Avenue and Loop 101.
The new location is more centrally located and conveniently close to the highway for the company's growing work force, potential vendors, franchisees and others looking to do business with the company, Sbordone said.
And that's more important than having a Scottsdale address, he said.
"Just try to (explain how) to get to Kierland from the 101," Sbordone said.