Eric Fosse knows that if you want pizza, your options are almost unlimited. So when he told friends that he had left his job as a loose-diamond salesman to open yet another pizza joint in Chicago and that his pies would be truly different, he was ready for snickers. Today, with 23 HomeMade Pizza locations in metro Chicago and Minneapolis/St. Paul, and plans to move into Washington, D.C., later this fall, it looks as if Fosse’s career leap wasn’t as reckless as it seemed.
HomeMade Pizza’s pies are made to order and can be picked up or delivered—same old, same old. But unlike pizzas from Domino’s or the prepared-food section of Safeway, its take-and-bake pies are uncooked and unboxed: Customers slide the fresh pizzas, which come on heatable parchment paper, into a 425-degree oven, and in 10 to 15 minutes they have dinner. They’re also premium-priced: Pizza Hut may offer three medium pizzas for $15. At HomeMade, a 14-inch pie with wild mushroom toppings and a whole wheat crust costs $19.90.
Fosse, 47, and his two initial partners—Audrey, his wife; and Matthew Weinstein, his brother-in-law— spent $500,000 of their own money and two years cooking up 270 batches of dough before opening their first site. The business turned profitable in Year Two. Fosse expects sales to hit $9 million in 2008, up 50% from last year. Its first pizza—Wisconsin mozzarella—remains the most popular.
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