Scaling Quality for Growth; Exclusive Interview with Azhar Subhani of Family Pizza Alberta for Winner Magazine | BNS News

Be it fine or casual dining, Azhar Subhani has channeled an infectious belief in his brands to build a performance standard and reputation that have earned awards across his multiple franchises.  Combining a scalable quality-control strategy with active social media engagement and an open ear to customers and mentors alike, Azhar has shown model leadership in his management of Family Pizza Alberta.  We were curious to find out more about how Azhar had grown Family Pizza into an 18-restaurant franchise across western Canada within only four years of acquisition, paramount to being recognized for the Top Pizza in Saskatchewan for the last four consecutive years by the Consumer Choice Award, Skip the Dishes, and Canada Awards.  In the Q&A with BNS' Jasmine Kara, Azhar's charismatic drive and enthusiasm for his work are palpable as he shares a detailed account of his process.  Read the full interview, below, to learn more about Family Pizza, as well as about Azhar's steps to growth and future plans:  

Sometimes you have to lose sleep to chase dreams.

 Azhar Subhani, President, Family Pizza Alberta

Q & A With Azhar Subhani, President at Family Pizza Alberta

What services does Family Pizza Alberta offer?

We offer Pizza, Wings, Fish and Chips, Bubble Tea and Ice Cream, and the list goes on. 

How did you come up with the idea to open Family Pizza locations in Alberta, and what purpose did you intend to serve with the concept?

I started looking into Family Pizza in 2018. The goal in this company was to bring Family Pizza to the quick-serve environment. As Canadians' preferences trend towards quick-serve, fresh-serve, and fast, casual-style dining, this is the original pizza restaurant to meet that mark. It’s not what we’re used to, here in Alberta.

I was originally going to start a franchise from scratch, but after looking deeply into Family Pizza, I decided to go with a brand that was already out there. In terms of experience, I had already run a food truck business, Indian restaurants, and I had managed and run a pizza franchise, as well. I’ve worked with franchisees for quite a few years now. I really wanted something that was scalable; with this model, the guy in Saskatchewan can make the same thing we can make here, and so on and so forth.

What I really wanted to do was bring the best pizza that I thought we could make to more of a franchise model, and so it just kind of all fit together really nicely. We have options for beer and wine for those who are interested in the stores. 

What we do as a franchise system is we just have a policy where we’re not marking food up on our franchisees. We’re able to put the franchisees head-to-head with a much better product than anybody else that’s a franchise system, and more often than not, they’re going to have a lower food cost. When you look at the product separation, it’s really not even close if we can put them into battle with the lower food cost than the guy serving modified cornstarch cheese across the street.  There’s obviously a lot more to it, however, the Cliff Notes version is we really wanted to be able to bring the best pizza to a quick-serve, create-your-own, "I want this- I want that- I want that on it," trend format, but using high-end stuff. We use the best suppliers for all of our meats. We also use real flour to make our dough.

Another big separation between this brand and other brands in quick-serve or fast-casual is going to be that we’re hand stretching. When you walk into our restaurant, you’re going to see someone at the front of the line.

We’re different. The franchise maintains its integrity. You can pile protein and veggies on it, and you can still hold your slice of pizza without it folding or drooping. We really have a special product. I think one of the biggest things I’ve noticed in our food reviews is not only, “This the best pizza I’ve ever had,” but “I don’t eat crust,” and, “I love your crust,” or, “My husband never eats crust and he finished my crust and his crust.” It's those kinds of differences that I'm talking about. We just have really good dough.

Which milestones have marked meeting benchmarks towards the fulfillment of your personal goals/ the franchise vision and goals?

I have been very fortunate to have been part of connecting with so many new customers, and seeing the smiles on their faces just gives me the energy to keep on going. Training new employees and teaching them the ropes and the way we do what we do is motivated by wanting to come through for our customers. We have also been very fortunate to have been awarded as the top Pizza in Saskatchewan for the last four consecutive years (Consumer Choice award), Skip the Dishes and Canada Awards.

Which steps have you taken for the company to achieve the level of consumer trust that has been nationally recognized? 

We have our finger on the pulse of our stores in real-time. If someone makes a mistake or has a bad experience, we know.  Usually, we become aware while they are in the restaurant, so we can really fix that. Whoever made the mistake, or wherever we failed the guest, we’re able to really stay on top of that. Yes, it’s a little bit of a liability, but it’s a huge part of brand-building and community integration. We're also big on social media. We go live a lot. We do some of the new Instagram stuff now through Facebook, but Facebook, first and foremost for us, is just a great tool. It’s cost-effective if you know how to use it right.


Which strategies have you found the most effective in growing your audience/ bringing awareness of your service to a larger consumer group? 

I would credit meeting new people and being around individuals who think alike. Sometimes, you have to step aside and see from the outside in if what you're doing is right, because you may think it is right and from the outsider point of view, others might see something else.  I like to educate those who are interested in learning and are willing to put the effort in. I am always willing to meet new people and share ideas and explore outside the box.   Connect with me, Azhar Subhani, on Facebook / Instagram .

Which partnerships, if any, have been the most constructive in bringing your goals closer to becoming a reality?

Having mentors and talking to some of Canada’s leading franchise experts really gives you an edge.


Are there any challenges that made it difficult to continue operation and that you managed to overcome? What was your approach to get past these?

Because I'm tied up with many other things, I have had to really manage my time wisely. Make sure to write your top-things-to-do list, and before going home, these tasks need to be checked off.  

How do you balance work, passions/hobbies, and relationships?

I am very fortunate that I have a wonderful family.  As for my friends, there are only a few I can count on my fingers that have helped me go far and be where I am today.  I think that balance in all areas helps me to be the best person I can be.


What are your future plans to build on your personal/ company achievements and fulfill your vision for success/ what developments can your audience or clientele look forward to expecting next?

It’s been great so far because the amount of franchise interest we have as a brand is just so high that I feel like we can really be selective with finding the right people. I go back to the same thing: development is not dependent on the biggest groups - it’s certainly not. It’s about having the right groups.  Even so, it’s not always about groups. It could be a husband and wife, brothers, or cousins that make the difference; it’s just about having the right people.  

Honestly speaking, I would say in the next few years, we’re going to have more than five locations opened in Alberta. We could even reach as high as over eight locations. I think that the growth pattern is just going to follow suit.  Three years from now, I’d like to say that from four to over fifteen restaurants will be open. In five years, we can certainly be looking at having opened over 25 restaurants. The growth is exponential once you reach a certain point, so it should be somewhere in that neighborhood. 

We can work in most markets. We’ve had restaurants literally located in the poorest neighborhoods that did really well, and we have had ones that are in super-rich areas, as well. We have had restaurants run where the population density is only 29,000 people within five miles, and we have restaurants in locations that have 29,000 people within one mile. The setup has to fit the mold so we can really go - I don’t want to say anywhere - but so we can go almost anywhere in the country.  Obviously, we would just have to find the right population density niches that we need. We can work within reasonable population densities, and the income-level really doesn’t seem to affect us because we’re a dinner quality (or better) product - at one’s quality price.  


What advice would you like to give readers that hope to achieve success in your field?

Sometimes you have to lose sleep to chase dreams.


Is there anything else you would like to share with Winner Magazine readers?

Try out our pizza by visiting our website: . There is also information on becoming a franchisee in the section on the top left. There’s a Q&A section there, also, along with franchise facts. There is a lot of different stuff up there. Then from there, if you're interested, you’ll fill out an app. You will get a call in typically one to two business days from one of the franchise sales teams, and we will do a phone interview and go from there. You can also email me at if you have any questions.


We thank Azhar for sharing these insights and experiences with Winner Magazine's readers.  If you are looking for Pizza, Wings, Bubble Tea or more in Alberta, Saskatchewan or Manitoba, or if you are looking for franchising opportunities, we would recommend reaching out to Azhar Subhani at Family Pizza Alberta!

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