The first Aver's Gourmet Pizza location in Bloomington, IN had been previously occupied by a pizza chain offering low-quality pizzas for low, low prices. Surprisingly, that company went bankrupt and left a turnkey setup behind. Aver's founders, Brad Randall and Kris Kaiser, saw an opportunity.
The two tried the traditional financing route of going to banks to get a startup loan, but were quickly shot down by their lack of any sort of capital. Undaunted and filled with the foolhardiness provided by their youth, they took out large cash advances on several credit cards and plunged into the restaurant business and its 90% failure rate.
Aver's opened its doors for the first time in late October of 1995.
Randall and Kaiser put in long hours from the beginning working to get out the company's "Gourmet Pizza to Go!" message. A "pizza of the week" marketing campaign was started to showcase the possibilities of an expansive topping list. Using unique items such as red potatoes, zucchini and black beans, a core of signature offerings were born and became the foundation for the menu as it exists today.
Late in 1998, Brad Randall decided that the business was going well enough that he and Kaiser could go to Las Vegas - for a pizza show. Randall entered the Cream & Crimson pizza in the exotic category of the 1999 Pizza Festiva. That was the sole entry for Aver's Pizza that year - it was such a fantastic pizza that Randall was "sure it would win." It did.
In 2000, Kaiser entered The Parthenon in the Pizza Festiva and it won the vegetarian category. New customers flocked to our doors to sample pizza from the place that had won two national awards in as many years. And the Beckon Desire pizza completed our trifecta as it won the Vegetarian category at the 2001 Best of The Midwest contest held on Navy Pier in Chicago, IL. These testimonials increased our business to the point where one store was no longer enough - it was time to expand!
In 2001 Aver's Pizza opened its second location on the south side of Bloomington, IN. But this time, the now well-established first location provided the resources to open a store the right way - with capital! Business poured in and the store was an immediate success.
These results didn't go unnoticed. The company was recognized by the I.U. Kelley School of Business and the Johnson Center with their Growth 100 Award as one of the fastest growing companies in the state. Aver's Pizza also made Pizza Today magazine's Hot 100 Independents list as one of the busiest independent pizza operation in the nation.
Columbus, IN was chosen as the site for the third store. It had been hometown to Kris Kaiser before setting off for college and now "Gourmet Pizza to Go!" had taken him full circle. Aver's Pizza opened its doors to Columbus in late 2004.
The location, next to a Family Video and in a brand-new building, combined with a look that was to be the model for future Aver's Pizza stores proved to be a winning combination. Customers rushed to try the pizzas and a planned "soft" opening turned "Grand!"