Gerard Pickhardt, a former aerospace manufacturing executive from Sarasota, is doing his part to spice up Tampa Bay’s economy, one new restaurant at a time.
Pickhardt and his wife, Bonnie, bought bay area franchise rights for the Orlando-based Flippers Pizzeria chain, and they plan to open their first location on N Fourth Street in St. Petersburg Dec. 1, followed by a second restaurant in Carrollwood in April and another one six months later at Dale Mabry Highway and Kennedy Boulevard in Tampa.
“We’ll open up a minimum of 16 restaurants in this market over the next eight years, most likely 20,” said Pickhardt, who was recruiting at a job fair in downtown St. Petersburg on Monday morning for his first three general managers, along with wait staff, kitchen help and drivers. Each restaurant, he said, will employ 25 to 30 workers.
The name of his holding company: WTFG, which stands for Watch These Franchises Grow.
Flippers Pizzeria was among a handful of first-time companies with open positions at the job fair in the Coliseum, hosted quarterly by the Tampa Bay Times.