Under as new master franchise agreement, Bettendorf-based Happy Joe’s Pizza will open several new restaurants in the Middle East and North Africa.

CEO Tom Sacco announced earlier this month that the popular family-centric chain has signed a master franchise agreement with H.J. Happy Joe’s for Restaurants L.L.C. to grow the brand abroad and open multiple new restaurants. Led by master franchisee Ahmed Elbatran, the group will develop or sub-franchise at least 25 Happy Joe’s restaurants across Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E. over the next 10 years, according to the company.

As Happy Joe’s had with the Elbatran family in the 1980s, the first few locations are set to open in Cairo, then Happy Joe’s will expand to other cities in Egypt before developing in more Middle Eastern and North African countries with the potential to operate between 50 to 75 Happy Joe’s Pizza & Ice Cream Parlors across the region, the company announced.

“Inking this deal was among the most exciting moments in our brand’s history,” Sacco said. “We’re beyond thrilled to begin this extraordinary international growth push as we bring Happy Joe’s overseas by expanding our presence in the Middle East and North Africa over the next decade. I expect this expansion to springboard Happy Joe’s into South Africa, Europe, Asia and Australia. We look forward to working with Ahmed as Happy Joe’s prepares to scale new heights globally.”

As the master franchisee for the Middle East and North Africa, Elbatran will attract, train and support Happy Joe’s franchisees, as well as develop and manage his own restaurants. In addition to serving its signature, innovative creations, Happy Joe’s new international locations’ menus will feature Happy Joe’s signature pizzas, breakfast pizzas, dessert pizzas and add some local favorites that will incorporate more seafood and chicken into Happy Joe’s pizza, the company said.

“Happy Joe’s is so much more than just a delicious pizza restaurant, and I can’t wait for people in this part of the world to experience a place where kids and families create and celebrate memorable moments together,” Elbatran said in a release. “Pizza delivery is widely popular in Egypt, and we’ll offer it, but nothing in this area compares to the magical dine-in atmosphere at Happy Joe’s. We’re proud to introduce this iconic brand to the Middle East and continue growing it throughout the region.”

Happy Joe’s formerly operated in Cairo, Egypt, and one of its restaurants was shaped like a boat on the Nile River.

Founded in 1972 by Joe Whitty in Davenport, Happy Joe’s dream was to create a restaurant concept that focused on serving America’s two favorite foods – pizza and ice cream – in a family-friendly, celebratory environment. Happy Joe’s, a FastCasual “Top 200” concept, is owned and operated by Dynamic Restaurant Holdings Inc. The family-centric pizza brand has eight company and 38 franchise locations throughout the Midwest with more in the pipeline.

Lawrence Joseph “Happy Joe” Whitty — who founded his restaurant chain in Davenport in 1972 — died at 82 on Oct. 29, 2019.

Whitty sold his stake in Happy Joe’s to Dynamic Restaurant Holdings before he died in October 2019. Sacco, a restaurant industry veteran, came on-board as Happy Joe’s CEO a year later. To learn more, visit HappyJoes.com or follow Happy Joe’s on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

To learn more about Happy Joe’s franchise opportunities, email Kat Davidson at KatD@drhnow.com or call 678-485-8413.