NEWS

Capital Buzz: Redskins star invests in new spin on pizza

Washington Redskins wide receiver Pierre Garcon is only 28, but he already is thinking about life after football.

And what does the future hold? Pizza.

“People always got to eat,” said the football star, who recently invested “a fair amount” of money in SpinFire Custom Pizza and Salads, a spinoff of parent Paisano’s Pizza, which is a Fairfax-based chain with 25 locations in Virginia and Maryland.

“I’m looking for a life after football,” said Garcon, who was a spokesman for Paisano’s when he was invited to become an investor in SpinFire “I was doing marketing work with Paisano’s and seeing what they were doing. I hung out with the owner and learned a lot. So I said, sure, why not give [SpinFire] a try.”

Garcon has the cash. In 2012, he signed a five-year $42.5 million contract, with $20.5 million guaranteed. After learning the pizza business, Garcon teamed up with Fouad Qreitem, chief executive of Paisano’s Franchise System, to create SpinFire. The first location opened in Ashburn earlier this month. Another location is scheduled to open in Rosslyn next month.

Garcon, Fouad and Norm Chirite, managing director ofRed Zone Capital Management Company, the private equity firm founded by Redskins owner Daniel Snyder, formed SpinFire LLC. SpinFire has engaged Franchise Freeway, a Fairfax-based company founded by Mike Halpern, to assist in franchise development.

Each SpinFire restaurant is around 2,500 square feet, requiring a $527,000 to $746,000 investment and a $30,000 franchise fee. Each franchisee must pay 6 percent of their gross revenue in royalty fees.

The concept takes its name from its preparation process. When you place the pizza in the restaurant’s gas-fired brick oven, the oven surface “spins” through the “fire” one rotation in 90 seconds to cook the pie.

Worried about the market?

Don’t panic.

That was the message of investment manager Bill Miller — a guru in investing circles — who spoke last week before about 50 or so investors atCongressional Country Club.

Miller, who made his name managing the Legg Mason Value Trust from 1982 to 2012, took the stage with billionaire investor/businessman R.J. Kirk. Both fielded questions from McIntyre, who moderated. One investor, anxious to hear from the two wise men, flew all the way from London and then drove down from New York overnight Tuesday to arrive in time for the breakfast.

Despite recent volatility, Miller said he is bullish on the current stock market. He pointed out that the signs of a bear market — oil price spikes, Federal Reserve tightening and economic recession — do not appear to be on the horizon.

“Every ‘correction’ you see is a buy opportunity,” he said of the recent market pullbacks.

Miller, who runs Legg Mason Opportunity and Miller Income Opportunity with his son, also named Bill, said there have been at least 16 “corrections” of 4 percent or more since the stock market bottomed out during the 2008-2009 financial crisis. He cited the current economy’s liquidity, economic growth and stock valuations as evidence that the stock market is still plugging higher.

When McIntyre asked Miller to peer into his crystal ball, the 1972 Washington and Lee University graduate and former military intelligence officer said he sees fair skies.

Although the market fluctuates, history shows that it “goes up two thirds of the time,” said Miller. With inflation virtually nonexistent, interest rates low and stocks a bit undervalued, Miller sees a healthy upward trajectory — interrupted by those occasional dips — over the next three to five years.

Any sectors he is particularly bullish on?

Home builders, whose production is “way, way below all-time highs.”

The Buzz hears:

The newly renovated historical Georgetown Post Office at 1215 31st St. NW has a new tenant. Anthony Lanier’s EastBanc leased a majority of the property’s commercial space to his technology subsidiary, EastBanc Technologies, whose 75 employees recenlty moved into the 19th century building. EastBanc Technologies signed a 10-year lease to occupy 11,776 square feet spanning three floors. Eastbanc is the latest in a surge of technology companies moving into Georgetown. Others include Smart ThingsRadius Networks and Palantir Technologies. In 2013, the U.S. Postal Service sold EastBanc the Georgetown Post Office building with the agreement that a reduced post office space will operate on the ground floor.

Landover-based 2U, which partners with universities to offer online degree programs, announced it has partnered with Syracuse University’s Martin J. Whitman School of Management to expand an online master of science in professional accounting course. The education technology company was founded in 2008 and went public in March. It has 700 employees and trades on Nasdaq under the symbol TWOU.

 

Thomas Heath is a local business reporter and columnist, writing about entrepreneurs and various companies big and small in the Washington Metropolitan area. Previously, he wrote about the business of sports for The Post’s sports section for most of a decade.