Eric Olson, Editor
Michael Felts plans to open five BYOPizza stores in the Springfield area.
A career writer in the film, television and music industries has chosen Springfield for the next big step in his pizza franchise startup.
Michael Felts and investor partners started the year by opening the first of five planned BYOPizza stores in the area. The Dec. 31 opening at Wilhoit Plaza, 431 S. Jefferson Ave., Ste. 100, is Felts’ third in the build-your-own pizza concept he started a year ago.
Based in Nashville, Tenn., BYOPizza operates corporate stores in West Texas and Southern California, said Felts, who splits his time between Nashville and Los Angeles working for All 3 Media.
At $175,000 apiece, BYOPizza plans to invest $875,000 to open five stores in the Springfield market. Felts, whose parents live in Branson, said leases are signed for additional corporate stores along Republic Road, one at Kansas Expressway and another at Fremont Avenue, and he also plans to open in Ozark’s South Pointe Center and near Branson Landing.
BYOPizza fills a vacancy at Wilhoit Plaza, a mixed-use property downtown where anchor tenants Farmers Gastrobub vacated last month and Moxie Cinema is days away from moving out. Landlord Matt Miller told Springfield Business Journal this month the building is 83 percent occupied, and a lease agreement in the works for the Farmers Gastropub space would push occupancy to 88 percent.
Felts said BYOPizza signed a five-year lease for $2,000 a month in the corner space previously occupied for a short stint by Casablanca Bistro LLC and Quizno’s before that. Felts’ plans were delayed a month when city inspectors took a closer look at BYOPizza’s unique oven system, thinking it might require a second ventilation hood. He said they reached a resolution without the restaurant incurring additional costs.
BYOPizza sells individual pizzas with toppings from crab to hot dogs for $5 to $8 apiece. He said the patented oven, valued at $45,000, cooks the pizzas in less than 90 seconds.
While Felts is expanding the pizza concept, he’s also developing a TV show, dubbed “Rebuilding America.” He’s had time to get the Springfield restaurant off the ground while a crew is filming in Batesville, Ark. Felts has hired Michael Patton to serve as BYOPizza’s area director.
He has partnered with former Dallas Cowboys player Daniel Loper, country music singer Jerrod Niemann and songwriter Richie Brown to sell the franchise concept. Franchise fees are $35,000 with 8 percent royalties collected, including advertising placements, he said.
Felts wrote and directed his first feature film, “Yorktown,” in 2011, and his second, titled “Night 31,” is in development, according to his biography on IMDb.com.