The Los Angeles pizza chain that was part of Elle Degeneres' Oscar stunt last year has managed to parlay its brief blip of fame into a thriving business plan. Degeneres, who hosted the 2014 Oscars, ordered a few pies from Big Mama's & Papa's — which is known for their incredibly large pizzas — and had them delivered to the show. A delivery man from the restaurant brought the pizzas onto the Oscar stage before Degeneres handed the pizzas out to numerous A-listers including actors Brad Pitt, Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Harrison Ford, Channing Tatum, and more. Considering what the charges are for an advertisement during the ceremony, the pizza chain essentially received "$10.8 million" in free promotion.
Slate writes that the chain has taken an unexpected opportunity and run with it: Big Mama's & Papa's has plans to become a global pizza franchise. When the Oscars stunt occurred, business boomed and not only did the number of customers increase, numerous people expressed interest in opening franchises. Big Mama's & Papa's co-owners and brothers Aro and Allen Agakhanyan called up Lou Franson, the former president of Hooters, and Ray Perry, the former COO of Carl's Jr. to help them expand.
Franson notes that it's impossible to build a brand "on one TV moment, no matter how many A-listers had been involved." So they set about transforming the pizzeria's image to make it seem like the "embodiment of L.A. coolness." Big Mama's & Papa's partnered with Mercedes-Benz to create a special Smart car for deliveries. It's wrapped in the company's colors — red and yellow — and it features a "custom-made insulated box, wider than the car itself" that is mean to hold a 200-slice monster pie. All new franchise owners must buy two of the cars. The brothers are currently in the process of redesigning the stores themselves to capture a "SoCal lifestyle."
Most importantly, they are signing franchise partners in California, Arizona, Nevada, and even Dubai. BinHendi Enterprises — a luxury conglomerate — has committed to opening two Big Mama's locations in the the Gulf and Middle East this year. From the looks of it, Big Mama's & Papa's was the biggest winner of the 2014 Oscars.