Chef Erica Barrett Launches Innovative Dough Boy Pizza Franchise

Chef Erica Barrett is no stranger to the food industry. In 2010, after several years in the corporate world, she entered the Food Network-supported Lea & Perrins Shine at Dinnertime Challenge. In 2012, Barrett started her “breakfast lifestyle brand,” Southern Culture Artisan Foods (SCAF). Two years later, she pitched her product on Shark Tank, followed by an appearance on CNBC’s series The Profit. Her 2016 placement on Oprah’s Favorite Things list for her deliciously creamy SCAF grits propelled her to the next phase of her culinary career. In 2019, Barrett opened SOCU Southern Kitchen & Oyster Bar, an upscale coastal Southern restaurant in her hometown of Mobile, Alabama, followed by a second location in downtown Birmingham in 2022.

Courtesy Chef Barrett

But Barrett didn’t stop there. In August 2022, she opened Dough Boy Pizza in The Pizitz Food Hall, the same location as her second SOCU Southern Kitchen & Oyster Bar. Dough Boy is an innovative fast-casual pizza restaurant focused on Neapolitan-style pizza, which consists of thin crust pizzas with mozzarella cheese and tomato sauce — featuring both traditional toppings (such as pepperoni and sausage) and non-traditional toppings (short rib with caramelized onions and crawfish) – ready in 3 minutes! “It’s fast-food pizza but fresh. The oven is specially made in Italy and can go as high as 650 degrees. Our dough is also from Italy and is vegan,” shared Barrett. But it’s not just the food that grabs patrons’ attention; it’s also that the entire restaurant is technology driven. There are no cashiers, which means customers order directly from electronic kiosks—and the whole restaurant is run on digital screens. “With Dough Boy Pizza’s concept, we are looking to control labor and food costs with our technology focus,” says Barrett. “This is perfect for the millennial who wants to grab their pizza and go—we wanted to build a restaurant of the future.”

When Barrett opened the first Dough Boy, her main goal was to make it highly efficient and profitable. “I felt like both the idea and the business model were so smart and innovative. My vision was to create a pizza shop of the future as the world is quickly evolving.” Franchising was the logical next step.

In February, Barrett opened her first Dough Boy Pizza franchise in The Gallery at South DeKalb in Decatur, Georgia. Famed radio host Ryan Cameron (host of Radio One’s Ryan Cameron Uncensored) happens to be the first franchisee. Cameron decided on this location, as it’s a place he visited often growing up in Atlanta. “This was an opportunity to bring something to an underserved community,” Cameron said in an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “That’s been my mall. This was a no-brainer for me. The mall has had only two food options for the past four years. People are coming to me and saying this is the first time they’ve been at the mall in 20, 30 years. Doing this here is like a full-circle moment for me.”  Cameron is looking forward to opening more locations in the future.

But Barrett has expansion at the top of her mind. Eight franchise agreements have been signed, five in Atlanta and two in Mobile. “Our pizza shop is very accessible to the average investor as our franchise fee is at the low end for food concepts at $25,000, and the liquidity requirements are one of the lowest in the industry. We created this business model for the average next-door investor.”

Celebrity Chef Erica Barrett

In addition to the affordable investment, unlike some restaurant franchises, experience is not mandatory. “Our Pizza shops are easy to run, so no restaurant experience is needed. My purpose in creating this brand was to make owning a restaurant accessible to everyone. We interview each candidate on an individual basis to determine if they are a great fit.”

Barrett is excited about the opportunities Dough Boy Pizza will bring for entrepreneurs across the United States and internationally. For more information on ownership, visit