NorCal Pizza Chain Opens Up Shop in OC

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The famous pepperoni from Mountain Mike’s Pizza, which now has a franchise support center in Newport Beach and is opening two new Orange County locations in spring.
— Photo courtesy Mountain Mike’s Pizza ©

A family-style pizza chain primarily based out of Northern California, but with roots in Orange County, recently unveiled new headquarters in Newport Beach and will be opening two new prototype locations in Southern California.

Mountain Mike’s Pizza, known for its legendary crispy, curly pepperoni (shaped during the cooking process because the company uses pepperoni with natural casing), announced plans for restaurants in Costa Mesa and Fountain Valley to open in spring, officials confirmed in a Feb. 19 press release.

They also unveiled a new “franchise support center” in Newport Beach which serves as the company’s operational headquarters and training ground for new franchisees.

Co-CEOs and principal owners Chris Britt and Ed St. Geme are also both local Newport residents and are excited to bring the company to their home turf.

“Mountain Mike’s Pizza is an iconic name in Northern California and although we will continue to grow the brand throughout that region, we are also excited about the potential in Southern California, including our own back yard of Orange County,” the duo agreed in a prepared statement.

Chris Britt and Ed St. Geme, co-CEOs and principal owners of Mountain Mike’s Pizza.
— Photo courtesy Mountain Mike’s Pizza ©

Opening the new locations will bring the brand to nearly 220 units total and mark the second and third locations in the OC, with one currently operating in Lake Forest.

The decision to plant deeper roots in Orange County was spearheaded by the leadership duo of Britt and St. Geme, who acquired the more than 40-year-old brand in 2017.

First to open will be the location in Costa Mesa, taking over the space formerly occupied by Paris Baguette on 17th St., officials explained in the press release.

The nearly 3,000-square-foot Fountain Valley restaurant is set to open shortly thereafter and will serve as an innovation kitchen for R&D, along with a test and training center to continually share best practices with franchisees systemwide. Along with a refreshed design, guest-facing features include a private party room, a kids’ activity room with arcade games, a bar counter with seating, beer on tap and a selection of wine, a salad and pizza buffet, and big screen TVs throughout, according to the message.

Upon the acquisition in 2017, OC locals Britt and St. Geme moved the NorCal operations to Newport Beach and began building out the senior leadership team. They developed the support center in 2019 after experiencing a surge in growth with franchisees and system sales, restaurant openings, and with the expanded team.

“In a short time, we have made great strides in reinvigorating this beloved legacy brand,” they said in the statement, “and now our two new restaurants in Orange County will complement and reinforce how far the Mountain Mike’s brand has come.”

The Mt. McKinley pizza, a loaded classic combination pie, at Mountain Mike’s.
— Photo courtesy Mountain Mike’s Pizza ©

The new center serves as the company’s operational headquarters and the training ground for the executive and franchise support team and new franchisees.

“Our new franchise support center is allowing us to serve our franchisees better, doing everything in our power to grow their profits and set them up for success,” they added.

Mountain Mike’s new prototype, which will be showcased at both the Fountain Valley and Costa Mesa locations, features the welcoming, family-friendly atmosphere that the brand is known for, but with an adventurous twist. Inspired by the great outdoors, the new store design radiates a modern, active feel that speaks to today’s adventurous spirit, according to officials.

The pair said they are thrilled to unveil the new restaurants and bring the Mountain Mike’s experience to more communities throughout Orange County where “there’s a real hunger for family-friendly dining concepts like ours.”

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