Pizza Factory seeks new owner for Winters location

The announcement came one day after an Express investigation cast doubt on the restaurant’s “construction” project.
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FILE: The front of the Pizza Factory in Winters. Photo by Matthew Keys

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Following an Express investigation that cast doubt on the construction claim, the corporate owners of the Pizza Factory company laid to rest any rumors about the local restaurant’s fate in an announcement soliciting new owners for the location. On Wednesday, a public relations firm operating on behalf of the Oakhurst-based company contacted the Express to inquire about running an announcement in which Pizza Company Chief Executive Officer Mary Jane Riva would reveal that the Main Street location was in search of a new owner. Less than 24 hours later, a staff member at a sister-publication of the Express received an announcement from Dominique Main, a franchise development director with Pizza Factory’s corporate operation, instructing potential business owners to fill out a franchise form for the Winters location. “If you show excitement about being part of a team, a strong work ethic, a desire to bring high-quality, fresh pizza to your community and have a minimum net worth of [$150,000], then we have an awesome location for you that will be worth your while,” the announcement said. For the last few weeks, a sign in the window of the Pizza Factory suggested that the local restaurant was closed due to a “construction” project. But an Express investigation published in print earlier this week found that the current operator of the Pizza Factory did not file building permits with city officials for any construction project. John Lorenzo, whose family owns the building where Pizza Factory once operated, said there were no changes to the building’s long-planned structural retrofit except for a window that was recently replaced. Lorenzo said the owner of the restaurant, Azul Rea Enterprise, “just locked up and left.” Gabriel Ibarra, the chief executive of Azul Rea Enterprise who is also the proprietor of the Yolo Trader Bistro, declined to comment through a spokesperson affiliated with the city’s chamber of commerce. Lorenzo suggested the Pizza Factory might eventually reopen as a corporate operation, but the announcements reviewed by the Express indicate that the company is actively looking for a different person to operate the restaurant under a franchise agreement. The Pizza Factory was one of two restaurants that delivered pizzas to residents in Winters. The other, Round Table Pizza, told the Express their restaurant has seen a boom in business since the Pizza Factory closed its doors several weeks ago. “We’re extremely happy for the business, not going to lie,” Josie Stein, a manager at Round Table Pizza, said in an interview with the Express. “It’s a fantastic problem to have.” Express Publisher Taylor Buley contributed reporting.]]>

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