America’s largest pizza chains have thousands of locations and billions of dollars of sales. The list includes Pizza Hut, Domino’s, Little Caesars and Papa John’s. But the chain with the best pizza is a much smaller one that many people have never heard of. A new national survey rated it at the top of the category.
Harris, the polling company, asked over 45,000 people about almost 2,000 brands that were sorted among 196 categories. Ninety-one companies were awarded Best Brand of the Year. The Harris Poll CEO, John Gerzema, said: “These are brands Americans especially love and expect great things from in the future.” Marco’s Pizza won the pizza brand crown. Harris is also known for its survey of the companies with the best and worst reputations.
As evidence of how small Marco’s is compared to larger rivals, note that the largest chain, Pizza Hut, had 2017 revenue of almost $6 billion, and it has almost 5,600 locations. But Marco’s had sales of less than $550 million last year and only 967 stores.
Marco’s was started in 1978 in the small Ohio town of Oregon, which is near Toledo. Founded by Pasquale “Pat” Giammarco, it has operated in 35 states and four countries. The chain is currently run by industry veteran Jack Butorac. The company has won other awards, which demonstrates the brand’s quality. This includes “America’s Favorite Pizza Company,” given in 2017 by customer research firm Market Force.
The Marco’s menu is similar to those of other pizza restaurants. It includes a range of pizzas. From some with traditional pizza sauce and cheese, customers can expand their choices to pepperoni, Italian sausage, mushrooms, green peppers, onions, and even less traditional ingredients, including grilled chicken, bacon and pineapple. Like most of its competitors, Marco’s has low-price promotions. In many markets, customers can get two medium pizzas for $6.99 each. They can pick up their orders or have them delivered, which is the traditional pizza chain model.
Marco’s also sells a wide range of other foods. This includes salads, subs, wings, desserts and beverages (and some of these make the list of healthiest and unhealthiest options in fast food restaurants). Marco’s has a loyalty program, like many other chains have. When people spend enough, they get credit toward discounts on future orders.
Marco’s has grown by creating a franchise system. The company plans to use this strategy to expand into states where it does not have locations. According to the company, applicants for franchises need to have a net worth of $400,000 and should expect an investment of as high as $750,000. Marco’s parent is called Marco’s Franchising LLC.
Marco’s shows that, when it comes to brands that people like the most, bigger is not always better. But Marco’s will continue to do well because of the huge national appetite for pizza, even though the ingredients are not among the healthiest. Pizza is unlikely to ever appear on the list of best superfoods to live a healthy lifestyle.