Pizza operator battles chain

An Oshawa Pizza Pizza franchisee changed the door locks and slept in her take-out restaurant Monday night to block a takevover by head office. “I’ve got too much blood, sweat and tears in this place to walk away and let someone else reap the benefits,”…

The Toronto Star
January 13, 1993

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TAKEOVER FIGHT: Pizza Pizza franchisee Darlene Thiele, battling head office to keep her store, says "royalty and rent payments are killing us."

Pizza operator battles chain
Stan Josey

Pizza Pizza, problems, problems.

An Oshawa Pizza Pizza franchisee changed the door locks and slept in her take-out restaurant Monday night to block a takevover by head office.

“I’ve got too much blood, sweat and tears in this place to walk away and let someone else reap the benefits,” said Darlene Thiele, 29, a separated mother of two small children, after getting “a good night’s sleep,” in her King St. E. store.

The action apparently blocked the takeover, but Pizza Pizza officials did get into a second take-out store Thiele is involved in on Simcoe St. S. in Oshawa.

Pizza Pizza officials said the company would not comment on the reasons for the takeover or the franchise agreement. Bob Anand, district sales manager, said he was sent to Oshawa yesterday to take over both stores “pursuant to the franchise agreement” but would not elaborate.

Thiele agreed to leave her restaurant temporarily yesterday when she and business partner Aileen Collins, 28, were invited to a meeting at Pizza Pizza’s Toronto headquarters.

She would leave the premises only after Pizza Pizza chain lawyers faxed an undertaking to her lawyer that the company would not take over her second outlet while she was away.

Thiele said the pizza franchise business is going through some tough times. “The recession has hurt us and the competition from other chains is very tough,” she said.

Roy Brown, 21, who also is a partner in the Simcoe St. S. store, said he was devastated by the loss of the store yesterday.

“I thought I had it made when I invested in this business a year ago,” he said. “I thought I would be able to expand the business and retire at 40.”

Instead, he said, he will be left with a $70,000 debt if he is forced out of the franchise.

“I have been working 100-hour weeks and there still is no money in it,” Brown said.

Thiele said she and her partners owe Pizza Pizza about $30,000 in rent and franchise payments.

As well, they say they have not been paying unemployment insurance premiums or Canada Pension payments to Ottawa on behalf of about 24 full- and part-time staff members.

She said she and her partner paid $210,000 for the King St. E. franchise four years ago and have reduced their debt to about $70,000.

“We can make our mortgage payments, but the royalty and rent payments are killing us,” she said.

Thiele said Pizza Pizza franchisees pay 6 per cent of the total store receipts as a royalty to head office, 6 per cent for advertising and 10 per cent for rent.

The rent payment used to be 8 per cent, but it was raised to 10 per cent a couple of weeks ago, she added.

“The rent increase has added about $1,000 a month to our payments and we just can’t afford it.”


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