When Drew French, the founder of Your Pie, made the decision to expand his brand by way of franchising, his goal was simple: find passionate people hungry to improve their communities by changing the way we experience pizza.

Today, with more than 30 locations throughout the country, Your Pie has still stayed true to that mission. And that’s why French believes that as the brand grows, Your Pie’s success will remain contingent upon finding franchisees who are passionate about their community and concerned about what’s going outside of the four walls of their business.

“The corporate office can’t connect with a community the same way a local franchisee can. We ultimately look for people who are excited to bring an experience like Your Pie to their community and to help it grow,” French said.

That core methodology applies to every single grand opening in the brand’s system, too. In mid-July, Scott Burr brought the first Your Pie restaurant to California, and he did so in characteristic Your Pie form—a Dine and Donate event. Beyond building hype around the restaurant’s opening, the Dine and Donate events give customers a free taste of Your Pie, train the staff and raise funds for a good cause. Burr chose to partner with the Desi Strong Foundation—an organization established to shed a light on pediatric cancer.

According to French, the Dine and Donate event works like this: four days before the grand opening, staff go through an intensive training that involves whipping up a lot pizzas. To take advantage of the busy kitchen, each store invites the community to come in and check out their local Your Pie—for free. Guests are then asked to donate money to a local charity of the franchisee’s choosing.

“Our Dine and Donate event is the biggest thing we do to help create buzz for the grand opening. It gives us a chance to receive real feedback in real scenarios about our pizzas, and it helps us perfect our craft before the doors open,” French said. “It also sends a really important message—Your Pie cares about their community. People seem to really gravitate towards that, and it creates a positive introduction of our brand into the community.”

To raise awareness about this event—and the grand opening—Your Pie franchisees utilize social media and local grassroots marketing to keep the community in the loop. This includes giving just about anyone the chance to reserve a seat for the Dine and Donate event on Facebook.

“It all comes down adding a local element to your store and its opening. It shows that we’re not just another business coming into to town—we’re one that’s genuinely committed to being a part of the town we’re in on a much deeper level. And we aim to do that through our dedication to both our craft and our community,” French said.