Fearless Foodie:

Hard Knox Pizzeria Goes National!

Look out Boston Market and Atlanta Bread Company. Knoxville's now going to have its own national restaurant chain named after it--or at least one that includes the same first four letters. Hard Knox Pizzeria at the Shops at Western Plaza announced Friday it was going national. Here are the details from the press release:

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KNOXVILLE, TENNESSEE - October 12, 2012 - Dean and Jill Bastian, owners of Hard Knox Pizzeria, a premier gourmet style pizzeria located in Knoxville, announced today a joint venture with Beautiful Brands International (BBI) to develop and franchise their restaurant nationwide. The favorite local pizzeria, located just two miles away from UT at The Shops at Western Plaza, will be franchised as a Fast-Casual authentic Gourmet Pizza concept with its first franchise store slated to open by spring 2013.


"I guess you could call us pizza obsessed," says owner/founder, Chef Dean Bastian. "Everything we do at Hard Knox Pizzeria--from our Earthstone true wood fired oven and one of a kind recipes to our fresh ingredients and incredible service--is done for the purpose of offering our customers the best pizza experience anywhere. I'm confident pizza lovers nationwide will agree with the folks here in Knoxville--Hard Knox is the absolute best wood fired pizza around."  


The joint venture will utilize BBI's organizational and support system to market and franchise the brand on a national and global scale. BBI's support will include marketing, real estate, architecture, legal, franchise sales, and other aspects of franchise development.  BBI is targeting potential rich cities such as Knoxville in order to capitalize on the booming market growth in the area as well as the affordability of the local business climate.

"Absolutely nothing can match the taste of Hard Knox Pizzeria," said David Rutkauskas, BBI Founder and CEO. "There's no question Hard Knox would be a tremendous franchise here in the Knoxville region and nationwide. We're talking completely fresh and authentic pizza that I believe will revolutionize the niche gourmet artisan-style pizza market."  


Founded in 2009 by Dean Bastian, Hard Knox Pizzeria in Knoxville is regarded by many as the best pizza in East Tennessee. Prior to developing Hard Knox, Bastian spent 30 years in the advertising business as a Creative Director working at some of the top agencies in the world. Along with his wife, Jill, Bastian has a talent for understanding all angles of a business model and leveraging a true passion for food into winning restaurant concepts.


Some of Hard Knox's signature Neo Neapolitan Pizzas include: The Bonecrusher--made up of house made red sauce, fresh mozzarella, pepperoni, Italian sausage, fresh rosemary and crushed red pepper; The Iron Mike with house made white sauce, fresh mozzarella, baby spinach, caramelized garlic, and shaved parmigiana reggiano. And The Sweet Pea, which is made with, smoked mozzarella, proscuitto, blue cheese and clover honey. Other mouthwatering menu items include made to order salads, wood fired Calzones, Flatbread Melts, and rich and creamy, Italian inspired desserts.


"The loving care we take to wow our guests is what our food is about," says Bastian. "That's why we have such a strong emphasis on fresh ingredients and tried and true Neapolitan pizza traditions. Our passion is to exceed the expectations of our guests and create an atmosphere of enjoyment where our incredible cuisine speaks for itself."     


BBI, a Tulsa, Oklahoma restaurant innovation company founded in 2008 by David and Camille Rutkauskas, is responsible for the development and successful launch of worldwide, franchised brands including Camille's Sidewalk Café, FreshBerry Frozen Yogurt Cafe, Rex's Chicken, Ludger's Bavarian Cakery, CherryBerry Self-Serve Yogurt Bar, Roxberry Juice Co., Smallcakes A Cupcakery, MyCamille's and Hard Knox Pizzeria.

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About This Blog


Rose Kennedy covers the Knoxville foodie scene with small discoveries, new openings, rumors, and tastings.