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Profile: Antonio Swad

A Leader with Guts

FoodChannelPro

Pizza Patron’s founder and chief executive, Antonio Swad, is an entrepreneur who has made the restaurant industry his home since starting out as 15-year-old dishwasher at a Columbus, Ohio, steakhouse.

Pizza Patron was launched in 1986 with the intent of becoming ‘the’ pizza place for the Hispanic community. ‘We basically took a product that was widely consumed and brought it to the Hispanic markets,’ says Swad.

With the recently adopted tagline, ‘Latin Life, Enjoy,’ Pizza Patron is expanding through franchises and now operates in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Nevada and Texas.

In 2007 Swad made national headlines and received several death threats when he announced that Dallas-based Pizza Patron would allow its customers to pay in pesos. Following the announcement sales increased 35% over 2006 tallies. The company attributed the sales uptick to the enormous amount of publicity that was generated from the ‘pizza for pesos’ campaign.

Swad, who also founded the Wingstop chain in 1994 and later sold it, has earned a solid reputation for innovations in operations and marketing.

_During the ‘great recession” of the past two years Pizza Patron has been enjoying several consecutive quarters of comp store sales gains, with the largest being an 11 percent bump.
Currently Swad is developing a line of frozen specialty pizzas that will be sold at grocery stores in the Hispanic communities. ‘The bigger the brand, the more successful we will be,’ he says._

Title: Founder and chief executive

Concepts founded: Pizza Patron, 1986; Wingstop, 1994

Hometown: Columbus Ohio

Personal: Married with 5 children

Newest venture: A Latin-themed ultra lounge inside American Airlines Center in Dallas

Number of units: Built to 100 units — twice

Growth plans for Pizza Patron: Improving store volumes and adding only committed franchisees

Education: Still receiving it

Business philosophy: Always keep business dealings on top of the table.

Hobbies: Road cycling and automobiles

Last book read: Topless Prophet by Alan Markovitz

Part of the FoodChannelPRO special edition, featuring Leaders with Guts sponsored by:
Tyson MARS Foodservices Truitt Smuckers
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