Village Idiot Pizza eyes Lexington, Irmo, Chapin amid nationwide expansion ambitions

Posted 7/30/23

A Columbia pizza institution is actively looking to expand to three Lexington County towns.

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Village Idiot Pizza eyes Lexington, Irmo, Chapin amid nationwide expansion ambitions


A Columbia pizza institution is actively looking to expand to three Lexington County towns.

Village Idiot Pizza – the local chain that has served New York-style pies since 1990 and has locations in Columbia’s Five Points and Olympia neighborhoods and in Forest Acres – announced in May that it is looking to franchise the business, hoping to expand across the U.S.

Talking to the Chronicle, owners Kelly and Brian Glynn expressed specific ambitions to open franchise locations in Lexington, Irmo and Chapin, with Lexington being the biggest emphasis.

“The amount of times over the years that I've been asked, ‘When are you opening one in Lexington?’ really kind of made it a no-brainer for me,” he said.

“I would like to stop answering that question,” he added jokingly.

Kelly said the idea of franchising was sparked by a desire to grow the brand and integrate it into more communities. She added that brand expansion will increase its brand recognition. 

The owners said operating three businesses is more than enough for them, which is why they want to find individuals who share their values to become franchisees to accomplish their expansion.

As with the overall effort they have announced to grow Village Idiot, the locations around Lexington County would be franchised.

One of Glynn’s stated values is to be a large part of the community, including supporting schools and nonprofits in the area.

Targeting Lexington, Irmo and Chapin makes sense for them, they said, as a way to expand organically and work their way out from Columbia.

“We want to be able to give the highest level of support to our first franchisee partners that are kind of taking a risk on us,” Kelly said. “And we want to be able to be close to really fully support them as their journey into business ownership is evolving.”

According to the owners, the new franchise locations will resemble the Village Idiot location in the Olympia Mills student housing complex, featuring full service with a bar, though Kelly said the bar won’t be the expansion restaurants’ focus.

Village Idiot’s other two existing locations pull to divergent poles, with the original University of South Carolina-adjacent Five Points location existing as a dive-y pub that also serves pizza and the more suburban Forest Acres spot set up as a family-and-takeout-focused hole in the wall.

Kelly said they want the new restaurants to highlight community tables where you can bring friends and family and gain a sense of togetherness through a shared experience.

The franchise locations will have a similar menu to the current locations, she said, adding that all locations will have their Buffalo Chicken pizza, though the individual franchise owners will dictate the pricing.

At this point, Village Idiot has only expressed ambitions to expand, with no specific new franchise locations having been announced, but the Glynns said that they have received inquiries from people interested in joining the franchise. 

The owners said they are working on getting to know their potential partners, explaining that they want to make sure they are a good fit.

While they would like to open a new location by the end of the year, the Glynns told the Chronicle they don’t want to rush into anything.  

Outside of sharing their values, one of the biggest things the owners want from a partner is someone who is going to be involved in the business. Brian said they don’t want someone who just wants to invest money, hire people and walk away.

“We want them to really be a part of it. Someone just going to work hard to overcome challenges, wants to be a part of their community, wants to be known as someone who can be counted on when people in the community need different things,” Brian said. “And someone who really likes to have fun.”

“Let's have fun, enjoy [ourselves] and give people a place and a time to come together and enjoy their time,” he added.

The owners mentioned Greenville, Charleston and Myrtle Beach as other markets they’re specifically eyeing, emphasizing their belief that Village Idiot would work in any community and is a “no-brainer” for college towns.

“It brings joy to see that we have an opportunity to grow beyond what we physically can do, a brand that has meant so much to us,” Kelly said. “We have been in this brand since we were dating, got married, had kids. We've cared for so many of our employees, we feel like it's just a family and we want to see that kind of continue.”

village idiot pizza, lexington restaurant, irmo business, chapin food, columbia development


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