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    Valentino's Pizza Making Push Into Convenience Channel

    Midwest states are the focus of initiative to increase To-Go franchise locations.

    OMAHA, Neb. -- Valentino's Pizza is making a push to franchise its To-Go and Express stores with an eye on expansion in the convenience store market, according to an Omaha World-Herald report. The chain plans to focus on the Midwest, especially Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri and Iowa.

    The success that chains such as Casey's General Stores Inc. have had with pizza is one reason adding Valentino's might be attractive to c-stores, said Terry Schmidt, who Valentino's hired to lead the franchising push.

    “The light bulbs are going off for a lot of these operators that might not have [pizza], and that's where a brand like ours would be appealing,” Schmidt noted.

    Valentino's To-Go stores offer pizza, pasta and salad for pickup, delivery and dine-in. Its daily Express Lunch special runs from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., and some locations include drive-thrus. Valentino's Express locations generally operate within existing venues and offer pizza by the slice all day, along with full pies for carry-out.

    The company has one Express location in Bruning, Neb., which Schmidt referred to as "our prototype." Another is expected to open inside a Ceresco, Neb., Mobil gas station at the end of July.

    "We're trying to speak beyond the Omaha and Lincoln area and get out to the other cities where we don't have a presence yet," Schmidt said of both location types, but the Express sites are intended for areas that might not have a population large enough to support a Valentino's To-Go restaurant.

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