Orlando Sentinel:

RedBrick Pizza Worldwide, a California-based gourmet pizza chain, opened its first Florida franchise location in Altamonte Springs Friday.

The franchise owners, Paul Chong and Dan Dumont, said they plan to roll out at least 300 locations throughout the state. The first restaurant, based in the new Uptown Altamonte project, will serve as the franchise headquarters.

The pizza chain plans to open 25 to 30 restaurants in the Orlando area. Another store is slated to open in May in the Loop retail development in Kissimmee. Franchise stores have also been sold in MetroWest, Naples and Boca Raton.

Dumont said the franchise expansion was starting in Orlando because of its centralized location and exploding population.

“Orlando is the fastest growing city in Florida,” he said.

In a market crowded with pizza chains, RedBrick Pizza hopes to stand out with its gourmet, thin-crust pizzas, specialty sandwiches and gelato deserts.

“Really, it is almost diametrically opposed to fast, deep-discount pizza,” Chong said. “As an example of that, we don’t deliver. It is a gourmet pizza that is always best out of the oven,” he said.

The restaurant features an exposed brick oven, booth and table seating with 15-inch LCD televisions at every table. Customers walk up to place orders, with service similar to restaurants like Panera Bread.

“It’s a nice casual upscale environment,” Chong said.

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