Business

Fort Worth owners cooking up growth recipe for Mr. Gatti’s, Gigi’s Cupcakes

Michael Poates, new president of Mr. Gatti's Pizza, photographed in their new restaurant on W. 7th Street in Fort Worth's museum district.
Michael Poates, new president of Mr. Gatti's Pizza, photographed in their new restaurant on W. 7th Street in Fort Worth's museum district. dkent@star-telegram.com

If you’ve been in the Cultural District lately, you may have noticed the new Mr. Gatti’s Pizza on the west end of Museum Place, near Van Cliburn Way. Next door, a sign announces an upcoming location for Gigi’s Cupcakes.

It’s no coincidence the two will be next to each other. Both chains are now based just a couple of blocks away, in the former Bombay office building on Bailey Avenue.

Over the past two years, Fort Worth investors purchased Mr. Gatti’s, a nearly half-century-old chain known for its locations near Texas university campuses, and Gigi’s Cupcakes, an upscale bakery franchise out of Nashville.

Michael Poates, who serves as president of both chains, identified the new owners only as two Fort Worth family offices, but declined to name them saying they prefer to stay in the background. He said they are actively seeking other acquisition opportunities with an eye towards expansion.

“We believe we could grow another 100 (Mr. Gatti) locations in five years,’ said Poates, 53, a former Whataburger executive who came to work for the investors when they owned Dairy Queen locations.

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Mr. Gatti's Pizza new restaurant on W. 7th Street in Fort Worth's museum district. David Kent dkent@star-telegram.com

Mr. Gatti’s currently has 90 locations in 16 states including new stores at Davis Boulevard and North Tarrant Parkway in North Richland Hills and in Mesquite, where it has a 13,000-square-foot family entertainment center with a game room for kids. Other stores are planned in Murphy and Rockwall, and they’re looking in Mansfield and Weatherford. It’s focusing on smaller markets for new franchises.

The spacious 4,600-square-foot Museum Place restaurant is now the chain’s flagship, sporting a large open oven, craft beer on tap and gelato for dessert. On a recent lunch hour, traffic was light. Poates said the site was picked to be across from a proposed hotel, though that project has been delayed by concerns over its height. He said the company may hold off on opening the Gigi’s for a while.

Meanwhile a new Gigi’s has opened in Presidio Towne Crossing in north Fort Worth, joining other area stores in Southlake and Dallas. Gigi’s has more than 100 stores in 23 states, according to its website.

Steve Kaskovich: 817-390-7773, @stevekasko

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