DALLAS, July 15, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The race is on to establish a dominant national footprint in the fast-casual pizza space, and the leader of the category continues to distance itself from the competition. Pie Five Pizza Co., a subsidiary of Pizza Inn Holdings, Inc. (Nasdaq:PZZI), announced today that it has awarded franchise rights to two veteran restaurant groups that will introduce the rapidly growing brand to three new states. Big Cheese, LLC, owned by Jim Stevens, is contracted to open seven restaurants in Wichita, KS, and Tulsa, OK. Simmonds Restaurant Management will open six Pie Five locations in Omaha and Lincoln, NE. "As we expand across the country, word is getting out that Pie Five Pizza is a well-positioned concept with huge potential," said Madison Jobe, chief development officer for Pie Five. "It speaks volumes that proven, seasoned operators like Jim Stevens and Mike Simmonds have hitched their wagons to our brand. With partners like them, the sky's the limit for Pie Five." Jim Stevens grew up in the restaurant business and has been involved with many concepts over the years. Currently he is an Applebee's franchisee with 25 locations in Kansas and Omaha, NE. He also franchises seven Jason's Delis in the Kansas City area. "I have been looking for another exciting concept for a while, but hadn't found any that interested me until I heard about Pie Five," said Stevens. "Once I saw the operations for myself, met the leadership team, and learned how strong their franchise support is, I knew this was it. By giving guests the ability to choose from a wide array of fresh ingredients and serving up customized pizzas in less than five minutes, they're giving today's customers exactly what they want. I see no reason why Pie Five won't become one of the most successful fast-casual brands in North America, and I'm not just talking about pizza concepts."