Owings Mills-based mamma ilardo's has reached a tentative deal on a licensing agreement with Fair Lanes Inc. that would put its pizza stands in 28 bowling centers by the end of the year.
Any way you slice it, the deal with Hunt Valley-based Fair Lanes will be a big deal for the growth-minded pizza chain. If the experiment is successful, officials for the two companies said, mamma ilardo's pizza could become available in all of Fair Lanes' 112 bowling centers around the country.
"We obviously have pretty high expectations," Bill Quigley, Fair Lanes' vice president for marketing, said yesterday.
mamma ilardo's is now a chain of a dozen stores with sales last year of $9.5 million, said Chairman Harry Ilardo.
Under the Fair Lanes deal, mamma ilardo's individual-sized "personal pizzas" will be sold at Fair Lanes snack bars. Fair Lanes would continue to operate its Party On Pizza restaurants alongside some of its bowling centers.
The Fair Lanes deal is only one of a series of ambitious projects that mamma ilardo's has in the works in its bid to achieve national prominence, said Joseph R. Simone, the former Arby's executive who joined mamma ilardo's early this year to lead the expansion effort.
Mr. Simone, who was recently named president of the company, said mamma ilardo's is also on the verge of signing a sub-franchise agreement with an Atlanta-based firm that would add a minimum of 30 pizza outlets in six Southern states over the next five years.
Under the tentative agreement, Southern Wealth Management of Atlanta would be authorized to recruit mamma ilardo's franchisees in Texas, Georgia, Florida, Alabama and the Carolinas. There would be no maximum on the number of stores that could be opened.
Mr. Simone also said mamma ilardo's is in the running for two slots in the MGM Grand casino and theme park complex in Las Vegas and is talking with British authorities about putting pizza stands in London's Heathrow and Gatwick airports.
mamma ilardo's, founded by Mr. Ilardo's late father, is starting its expansion drive from a solid base in Baltimore and Washington-area malls. Among other locations, it occupies sites in the Gallery at Harborplace, Columbia Mall, White Marsh Mall, Towson Commons and Owings Mills Town Center.
For Fair Lanes, the deal with mamma ilardo's is part of an effort to expand its revenue from food. The bowling company has also reached a licensing agreement with Ellicott City-based Boardwalk Fries to sell its food in three of its centers.