In 2015, Little Caesars Pizza opened 175 restaurants across the country.

Ed Ader, director of franchise development for Little Caesars in Detroit, said he believes the company could match or exceed that total this year. If it works out, the franchise, well-known for its “Hot-N-Ready” pizza and little Roman cartoon mascot who spouts out “Pizza! Pizza!” during its television commercials, might just place one of those new restaurants in Hays. It’s just a matter of finding a franchisee willing to open it.

“Families drive our business, and obviously Hays has a large population for a town in rural Kansas,” Ader said. “It would probably service the whole county if we put a Little Caesars there. I’m sure just about everybody in Ellis County comes to Hays once a week to do some kind of shopping. Hays is very similar to many other towns we’re in across the country.

“I’m kind of surprised we’re not already in Hays. It seems like a really good opportunity.”

What the company is looking for in a potential franchisee is a local entrepreneur who might want to diversify what they are doing, or someone who is just looking for a change. Ader said the operating system is easy to understand and the potential franchisee doesn’t need to have a background in the restaurant field.

Since 2010, Little Caesars has opened restaurants in Garden City and Liberal.

With the company already having two businesses in western Kansas, Ader believes Hays would be a good fit. It would place a Little Caesars farther north in the western part of the state and in a small city with a college and Interstate 70 running right by it.

“I just know from looking at maps and exploring at what you can on the Internet, we typically locate stores where other residential retail-type businesses are to the grocery stores,” Ader said. “It could be, studying it a little bit, it’s likely we try and find a spot on Vine Street where there’s similar businesses to us.”

Typically, the company will try to find a space where there can be enough room for a 1,400-square-foot area. The restaurant wouldn’t need much space as Little Caesars is for takeout and not a sit-down style.

A benefit Ader sees of the pizza place, in addition to the restaurant staffing 20 to 25 individuals, is how the company encourages franchisees to be active in the community. It’s important to the company that the restaurant reaches out to schools and other groups in the community.

As far as the restaurant considering opening a place in Hays, it first depends on someone submitting an application to become a franchisee.

“It’s a simple process in that they just submit an application,” Ader said. “To be a franchisee, there’s no fee or obligation. It just lets us know you’re interested, and we’ll start the process of reviewing them as potential franchisees.”

There are financial requirements an applicant has to show Little Caesars, starting with a minimum of $100,000 in cash or liquid assets. They must have a minimum net worth of $250,000. Ader said to open a store, the cost average would be approximately $300,000.

“We’ve talked to a few people, but nobody has stepped forward to start the process,” Ader said. “It’s not for everybody. … It’s a rewarding experience to be a franchisee. It’s something an applicant would have an opportunity to talk to any of our franchisees across the country during the process about what they’re getting into and asking questions.”

Anyone interested in becoming a franchisee can contact Ader and his team at (800) 553-5776, and there is information available on the company website at www.littlecaesars.com