It isn’t often national restaurant chains get menu items from the kitchens of their franchisees, but Brian Edler’s idea was one Domino’s Pizza executives ate right up.
Mr. Edler had been tinkering for a few years with recipes at his store on Main Street in downtown Findlay when he started cooking up Parmesan bread bites — small bits of pizza dough coated in a blend of Parmesan cheese and garlic.
“Once they started disappearing in minutes and people want more and more, you know you have the right thing,” Mr. Edler said.
He sold the bites at his Findlay Domino’s for a spell and eventually got a chance to duck into the kitchen at the company’s Ann Arbor headquarters to bake up a batch.
“They were such a big hit, I ended up going to the kitchen and making them a few more times,” he said.
The pizza chain’s executives were sold.
Domino’s rolled out the new product with a national television advertising campaign that began Monday.
The commercials — a 15-second version and a 30-second version — were filmed in several locations across Findlay in November.
“Our culture, especially the last couple years, has really founded itself on innovation,” Domino’s spokesman Chris Brandon said.
Late in 2009, Domino’s began using a new pizza recipe promoted by ads that featured people criticizing its old one. Revamps to the company’s chicken and stuffed cheesy bread followed, and sales rose.
Mr. Brandon said 85 percent of Domino’s menu is new since 2008.
Though he said the company has a “constant dialogue” with its franchisees concerning new items and menu tweaks, Mr. Brandon couldn’t think of any who created something that got put on the nationwide menu.
“This one’s pretty unique in the way that the initial idea literally came from one of our franchisees in Findlay, Ohio,” he said.
The Parmesan bread bites are available at all the company’s nearly 5,000 U.S. locations.
Domino’s is marketing them as a $1 add-on to its offer of two, two-topping medium pizzas for $5.99 each. Mr. Brandon expects the bread bites to go on the menu at a regular price somewhere around $3.
Mr. Edler first saw the ad featuring him by accident Monday night. Oddly enough, he was speaking with Findlay area car dealer Bob LaRichie, who is also in the ad.
“We made sure we put the Tivo on,” he said.
Mr. Edler, who lives in Findlay, also has franchises in Perrysburg, Defiance, Kenton, and three in Columbus.
If his name sounds familiar, it’s not the first time Mr. Edler has made headlines.
In 2010, he made 206 medium cheese pizzas in an hour, breaking a Guinness World Record.