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When National Pizza Inc. bought Skipper's Inc. three years ago, the Kansas-based Pizza Hut franchisee had big plans for the fast-food seafood chain.
Bellevue-based Skippers was going to fuel the pizza company's growth, expanding from some 210 stores to 700 and elevating Skipper's from a regional player to a national fast-food chain.
But along the way, publicly traded National Pizza found out you can't squeeze pizza margins from a fish.
"Originally, a lot of the thought was that we'd grow if we could enhance the physical plant, remodel, increase marketing, and get similar margins as the pizza business," said Bob Taft, Skipper's chief operating officer. "We spent a lot of time executing that. But then, let's face the facts, we can't achieve the same margins."
For that reason, National Pizza earlier this week announced it has found a new growth vehicle, Tony Roma's restaurants, a national rib and barbecue company. National Pizza is buying the private company, based in Dallas, for $20 million. The rib chain has 27 company-owned restaurants in Los Angeles, Southern …