Top 10 American Franchises

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Mici Italian, the Denver-based fast-casual restaurant franchise, is fairly new at the franchising game, but the brand is already making huge strides in terms of expansion. With a few different regions in the works as new Mici markets, one of the first areas solidified for franchising is Phoenix, Arizona.



When it came to the extremely important position of finding an initial franchisee, Mici needed a strong leader with ownership experience who truly knows about the food industry. The brand found it in 20-year restaurant industry veteran Lucas Farnham, who has signed a 30-unit franchise agreement with Mici Italian.


Farnham’s continued work as a franchisee with Black Bear Diner and Smashburger ultimately brought him together with Mici CEO Elliot Schiffer. “Elliot and I became quick friends; he’s super smart, and I found out over time that he was doing big things with Mici,” Farnham said.


The more Farnham learned about the brand – from its commitment to the highest quality ingredients to how Mici was finding continued success despite the challenges of the pandemic, the more he became convinced he wanted in. As a nearby resident in Colorado Springs, Farnham witnessed first-hand the success that Mici was having in the Denver area; when the brand officially announced its intentions to begin franchising last year, Farnham was first in line, inking a 30-unit deal for locations in Phoenix, where he has relocated with his family.

“When Elliot left the burger concept for Mici Italian I knew it had to be something special,” Farnham explained. “He is one of the smartest people in the restaurant industry and he left a nationally recognized brand to join Founder Jeff Miceli in his emerging concept, so I knew he had a vision. I consistently kept up with what he was doing in the three years after he left Smashburger to get Mici Italian ready for franchising. As soon as I saw the concept he had perfected, I told him I wanted to be the first franchisee.” 


“Mici isn’t a test tube brand,” said Farnham. “You can really feel the family presence behind the model and it has been paired with a great operational strategy. I was immediately confident that this concept would succeed in Arizona. There is a huge market for pizza in the Phoenix area and a real need for better, high-quality options. As a tried-and-true 18-year old family concept, Mici has a competitive menu combined with high-horsepower metrics. When a brand has both, the sky’s the limit.” 


Farnham’s knowledge, combined with his previous business relationship with Schiffer, ultimately helped him to identify the prime investment opportunity in Mici. “People are looking for great pizza and Italian food that can be delivered to their homes with quality they can rely on. This is the brand promise that Mici delivers…along with their pizza!,” said Farnham. 


Mici’s streamlined menu and operations model has allowed it to scale quickly and embrace new franchise opportunities while simultaneously reducing pain points for new franchise owners. A patented dough press, designed by Mici executives, has allowed the brand to standardize back-of-house operations, creating a consistent and high-quality product without the need for specialized professionals. “The need for skilled cooks can make or break your operation,” Farnham said. “As a franchise owner, eliminating the need for specialized kitchen staff immediately simplifies the already complex process and increases the margin for success.” 


As the brand continues to deliver on its aggressive franchise goals, Farnham himself is open to even more expansion in the future. But, for now, he’s committed to maintaining the family-style atmosphere the Mici brand has become known for, working to create the best possible experience for every single one of his guests.