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Pizza Ranch also plans on introducing a new pizza lineup this year with more upscale ingredients, such as spinach, balsamic glaze and various spices. NYC Style in Texas Since he learned to make pizza at his parent's upscale Italian restaurant at 12 years of age, Anthony Russo knew his future was in the pie business. In 1982, Russo opened his first pizze- ria in Houston at only 20 years old. An- thony's Pizzeria was a 1,400-square-foot restaurant that offered New York-style pizza, along with sandwiches and salads. "At that time, no one was doing pizza by the slice in Texas," says Russo. e&s segment spotlight TOPPERS ON A GROWTH TRAJECTORY Skeptics questioning the viability of fast-casual pizza need look no further than Toppers Pizza, a Whitewater, Wis.-based chain that anticipates opening its 100th location this year. "We're anticipating 15 percent-plus growth this year in terms of the number of units," says chief development officer David Biederman. Part of the growth stems from expansion into new markets, including Colorado, Wyoming and Virginia. Toppers also plans to increase its presence in the Carolinas with two to three more units opening there in 2017. Currently, the chain has sites in 14 states. The growth comes on the heels of a new restaurant design, currently in roll-out phase. This includes an open kitchen, or what the chain refers to as a show kitchen, that puts pizza preparation on display. "This not only gives our customers a view of our kitchen but also access to our team mem- bers," says Biederman.