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Pizza Hut to open next to Hotel Forum

Beginning this winter - maybe even by year's end - Pizza Hut will be serving panned pies in a new restaurant beside Bratislava's Hotel Forum, according to an Austrian businessman who has gained the rights to the franchise. Former investment banker Richard Lanczmann, 35, is combining with his Vienna-based employer, The Liška Group, to open Slovakia's first Pizza Hut at Drevená 8. Liška, a fur and jewellery company with two dozen shops across Slovakia and the Czech Republic, owns the property; Lanczmann is the chief executive of Restaurant Management Service s.r.o., which will operate the franchise. Lanczmann declined to say how much was being invested in the new restaurant, but Andy Rafalat, the Warsaw-based general manager of franchising for Pepsico Restaurants Central Europe, gave a clue.

Beginning this winter - maybe even by year's end - Pizza Hut will be serving panned pies in a new restaurant beside Bratislava's Hotel Forum, according to an Austrian businessman who has gained the rights to the franchise.

Former investment banker Richard Lanczmann, 35, is combining with his Vienna-based employer, The Liška Group, to open Slovakia's first Pizza Hut at Drevená 8. Liška, a fur and jewellery company with two dozen shops across Slovakia and the Czech Republic, owns the property; Lanczmann is the chief executive of Restaurant Management Service s.r.o., which will operate the franchise.

Lanczmann declined to say how much was being invested in the new restaurant, but Andy Rafalat, the Warsaw-based general manager of franchising for Pepsico Restaurants Central Europe, gave a clue. He said new franchisees in the region typically require between $500,000 and $1 million.

While Lanczmann said he hopes the 150-seat restaurant will open by the end of December, Rafalat was more cautious in predicting it for "the first quarter of 1997." Whenever it opens, the restaurant will directly employ as many as 100 people. Plus, surrounding supplies and distribution services mean that a restaurant like this "creates jobs at a hell of a rate," according to Rafalat.

Although the city Pizza Hut will enter has few restaurants serving foreign cuisine, and even fewer with Western-style service, it is a market crowded with at least a dozen pizza places already. Lanczmann is unconcerned. "I dare to say we offer an entirely different product," he said, stressing that his brand's service and environment will be unlike any other in the city.

Similarly, potential rivals seem secure that their market niche will not be threatened. "We'll keep our customers with our good prices, fast service, and real pizza," said Marián Volek, the manager of Sole Mio on Grösslingova ulica. "We make real pizza, the dough is only as heavy as the other ingredients. It's not just a big piece of cake."

Rafalat said the proof will be in the pepperoni. "We hope customers will vote with their feet," he said. He said he expects diners here to take to Pizza Hut similarly to the way the have in Poland, where Pepsico opened its first restaurant in 1993 and now has 60 restaurants across the country..

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