Jason Allard

Top 40 Under 40 2012

Photography Pedersen

Age: 32

Job Title: Chief Operating Officer and Co-founder, Famoso Neapolitan Pizzeria

Why He’s Top 40: Turning a pizza outfit into a chain of 15 in five years.

Key To Success: “We did a lot of research before we launched so we wouldn’t screw it up.”

Almost as fast as pizza dough rises in an oven, the dough has been rolling in for Jason Allard.

And he’s happy to have cut himself in for a one-third slice of the action, more specifically the successful Famoso Neapolitan Pizzeria, which has eight locations in the city and an additional seven outlets across Canada.

“I didn’t think we were going to expand with the speed that we did,” recalls Allard about the chain he started with his friends Justin Lussier and Christian Bullock five years ago. They’re planning to celebrate the opening of a 16th location- this one in St. Albert – in a few months.

But there’s nary a hint of testosterone-laden swagger in his voice when he speaks of Famoso’s fortunes, slated to hit $32 million in sales by the end of 2012. And the company’s responsible for employing up to 400 people in the city.

“I’m proud of the fact that we opened up our doors for a lot of people to reinvent the pizzeria. For people to be successful and excelling in their positions is especially important to me.”

Famoso was little more than a dream seven years ago, when Allard, a University of Victoria grad with a bachelor’s degree in business administration, moved to Edmonton to study supply-chain management at MacEwan University. It was while working at a bar run by Bullock that colleague Lussier told Allard about pizzeria operations in Naples, where he vacationed with his girlfriend.

“Justin fell in love with the pizza, which took only 90 seconds to cook in the oven and we saw possibilities,” says Allard. “We also felt the pizza business was really commercialized and wanted the same atmosphere as the pizzerias in Naples. Over there … making pizza is a respected trade in which people take pride. It’s not treated like a part-time job the way it is here.”

Months of research and preparation later, the trio opened their first location in 2007 on Jasper Avenue and 118th Street. Their luck has risen since.

Allard doesn’t mind sharing a slice of the wealth, including a $10,000 donation to the Red Cross after the 2011 tsunami disaster in Japan and providing $1,700 in funds to the Terwillegar Community League to help upgrade a local park.

Allard says such noble endeavours make good business sense. “It’s important to give back,” he says. “When people see you as part of a community, it makes them want to cater to your business more.”

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