A coal oven heats to 800 degrees, enough to cook a pizza in 4 minutes and enough to propel Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza from a single Fort Lauderdale store in 2002 to a 35-store chain expecting $72 million in revenue this year.
Founder Anthony Bruno and his dad opened Anthony’s Runway 84 in 1982 near the Fort Lauderdale airport. While continuing that establishment, the younger Bruno decided to start his pizza chain, with backing from six investors, including longtime friend and Hall of Fame ex-football player Dan Marino. Now backed by private equity, he has restaurants throughout south Florida, Tampa Bay and Orlando and is seeing rapid expansion in the New York area, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, with the D.C. area in his sights.
Bruno says he emphasizes the importance of hiring so that the chain has a neighborhood feel: “We try to hire people with that natural personality. They’re gregarious. They like people. He knows your kids. He knows your family. What we want to be is the local pizzeria.”