There is nothing better than a slice of Pizza oozing with delicious sauces and topping with a lot of cheese. Whether you are a pizza lover or other fast food lover, pizza will remain the best fast food, and people love to eat pizzas more than any other fast food.
In the past few years, the pizza industry in the US has flourished significantly, and pizza chains are constantly growing to meet the high demand for this popular comfort food. The US is known as the biggest pizza market, and in 2020, it gulped approximately $46.24 billion out of $145 billion in global sales. These pizza chains have grown into huge businesses by offering a wide range of pizza styles, crust choices, toppings, and delivery or carryout options to meet American consumers’ different tastes and preferences. They have also used modern technology, such as ordering, mobile apps, and loyalty programs, to make their services more convenient and easier to get to. However, the stats show that the increase in sales is not limited to online delivery, but it also shows a huge demand by consumers through taking over.
The most popular pizza chains in the US have an impressive number of locations, with hundreds or even thousands of sites spread across the country. They often invest considerable amounts of money in marketing and branding to build strong brand recognition and a loyal customer group. Some of these pizza chains have added popular food items like pasta, wings, salads, and desserts to their menus in addition to pizzas. This gives customers a more extensive range of choices and attracts a larger customer base.
Americans are eating more pizzas, and it is even better if you are thinking about starting this profitable business. However, you should focus on the chain store industry because they tell you the proper indications and trends about the market.
Top 9 Largest Pizza Chains In the US
1. Domino’s Pizza
Headquarters: Ann Arbor, Michigan
Gross Annual Sales: $12.25 billion
Domino’s is one of the best pizza franchises globally in terms of revenue, and their stores are increasing with fast speed worldwide. It was founded by Tom Monaghan. According to reports, in the third quarter of 2021, Dominos operated a network of 18,300 company-owned stores and franchises in the USA and over 90 international markets.
In August 2012, Domino’s Pizza underwent a significant rebranding by changing its name to “Domino’s.” Along with the name change, the company unveiled a new logo that featured a redesigned domino. The blue rectangle and text that used to accompany the domino were removed, and its colors were altered. This strategic rebranding was driven by Domino’s desire to broaden its menu offerings and not be limited to traditional pizza options. The company aimed to expand its culinary offerings and showcase a more diverse menu to meet evolving consumer preferences. (1)
Domino’s popularized the first home delivery service, delivering more than a million pizzas daily. Now they are rolling out pizza delivery by e-bikes made by an electric bicycle company, Rad Power Bikes. Pizza chains are coming up with new ideas to compete and offer the best services to gain consumers’ trust.
Their delivery services and ingredient-selling are helping them to increase the chain’s revenue.
2. Pizza Hut
Headquarters: Piano, Texas
Gross Annual Sales: $12.03 billion
In 1958, the Carney Brothers started their first pizza chain by borrowing $600 from their mother. Along with Domino’s, Pizza Hut is ruling over the world with its delicious pizzas. Struggle From a single restaurant to 18,000 franchises in over 100 countries is an inspiring journey for all pizza lovers.
In early 2007, Pizza Hut took a bold step towards more interactive and innovative marketing strategies. Leveraging mobile-phone SMS technology and their MyHut online ordering platform, the company aired television commercials that featured hidden words viewers could enter into their phones to receive valuable coupons. This creative approach, which started just before the Super Bowl, aimed to engage consumers in a fun and rewarding way. Pizza Hut also capitalized on the growing popularity of social networking by launching their “MySpace Ted” campaign, tapping into the emerging trend of user-submission marketing. (2)
The unique point about Pizza Hut is its mouthwatering pizza recipes. They have introduced Pan Pizza and stuffed crust pizzas in the pizza world, differentiating them from their competitors. Pizza Hut is satisfying its customers by providing quality services; that’s why they are still dominating the market.
3. Little Caesars
Headquarters: Detroit, Michigan
Gross Annual Sales: $4 billion
In 1954, Mike Ilitch and Marian Bayoff opened a pizza store in Michigan by investing their life savings. Little Caesars is competing now with two giants of the pizza market like Pizza Hut and Domino’s Pizza. Little Caesars is the third-largest pizza chain operating in 27 countries and all states of the USA.
Little Caesars is not expensive like other pizza chains, and that’s why it’s affordable for everyone. Their pizza campaign, Pizza! Pizza! was so famous back then that you could buy two pizzas for the price of one. Although their pizza chain is not that big, they still managed to grab the title of the largest pizza chain in the USA.
However, between 2008 and 2015, Little Caesars experienced unprecedented growth and emerged as the fastest-growing pizza chain in the United States. As of 2017, the company boasts an impressive network of 5,463 locations across the U.S. and internationally. The franchise opportunity offered by Little Caesars requires an estimated total investment ranging from $378,700 to $1,695,500. This investment covers the initial costs associated with starting and operating a Little Caesars franchise, including construction, equipment, inventory, and other essential components. With its remarkable growth and investment opportunities, Little Caesars has solidified its position as a leading player in the highly competitive pizza industry, offering potential franchisees an attractive business opportunity to be part of its success story. (3)
4. Papa John’s Pizza
Headquarters: Louisville, Kentucky
Gross Annual Sales: $3.695 billion
Papa John’s Pizza came into the market in 1984, much later than other pizza chains. Soon it operated with around 5,400 pizzerias across the US and in about 50 international markets. This pizza chain was the first to introduce an online ordering system in the town.
In January 2002, Papa John’s achieved a significant milestone by becoming the first national pizza chain in the United States to offer online ordering to all of its customers. This innovative move paved the way for other pizza chains to follow suit and introduce online ordering as part of their services. By July 10, 2004, Papa John’s had already captured an estimated 6.6% of the market, according to Technomic, solidifying its position as a pioneering player in the pizza industry. (4)
Like other stores, the slogan was not about affordability and delivery, but the fresh ingredients of pizza made it better than others. It is the most popular chain in the local states within all brands, and we can say the taste and delivery are definitely making this chain better.
5. California Pizza Kitchen
Headquarters: Playa Vista, California
Gross Annual Sales: $840 million
California Pizza Kitchen is far behind the other giants of the pizza industry. Still, it is doing well in generating revenue and grabbing the attention of its customer due to better flavors. California pizza kitchen is popular due to its unique ideas like BBQ and Thai pizzas. This chain is different because they prefer to offer their food in a restaurant rather than takeovers. Another good thing about California Pizza Kitchen is that they manufacture frozen pizzas to sell them in the store.
In addition to their diverse pizza offerings, California Pizza Kitchen also features a wide range of menu options, including pasta, salads, soups, sandwiches, and desserts. Their children’s menu caters to younger diners with a variety of pizzas, pasta, salads, and chicken dishes designed for children ages 10 and under. California Pizza Kitchen has a global presence with over 250 locations spread across 32 U.S. states and 10 other countries. They also have 15 nontraditional franchise concepts located in airports, universities, and stadiums, showcasing their versatility and adaptability in different dining environments. (5)
6. Papa Murphy’s
Headquarters: Vancouver, Washington
Gross Annual Sales: $827 million
In the mid-1980s, Terry Collins acquired and consolidated two existing chains, Papa Aldo’s Pizza and Murphy’s Pizza. Papa Murphy’s was founded in 1985 and franchised since 1986 with different ideas than other chains.
With over 1,300 outlets spread across the United States, Canada, and the United Arab Emirates, Papa Murphy’s is a prominent player in the pizza industry. As one of the largest pizza chains in the United States, Papa Murphy’s has established a significant presence in the market. In April 2019, it was announced that the company would be acquired by MTY Food Group for $190 million, further solidifying its position in the industry.
They introduced ordering and picking up an already cooked pizza; customers receive an uncooked pizza for taking home and baking it themselves. Their popularity is a new concept of “take and bake” services. They emphasize the freshness of ingredients, and their stores don’t have freezers to store the dough. They started making fresh dough and pure mozzarella cheese daily and hand-sliced veggies for the customers.
Headquarters: Columbus, Ohio
Gross Annual Sales: $609 million
Sbarro started when Carmela and Gennaro ran an Italian Salumeria. A renowned American pizzeria chain – known for its delicious New York-style pizza sold by the slice and a range of other Italian-American cuisines. The company has gained recognition for its international sales, ranking 15th among U.S.-based quick-serve and fast-casual companies in foreign sales, as reported by QSR Magazine in 2011. In addition, Entrepreneur magazine rated Sbarro as the #1 Quick Service Restaurant in the Italian segment in 2008, further attesting to its popularity and success in the industry. (6)
Their pizzas were so famous and delicious that they made another chain to focus only on this pizza. Their marketing technique was powerful and ideal; they opened their new chain in malls to avoid direct competition with big brands of the pizza industry.
However, this strategy can be the reason for the companies’ downfall because people don’t visit malls that often. We are sure you have seen this chain in every big mall.
8. Marco’s Pizza
Headquarters: Toledo, Ohio
Gross Annual Sales: $596.36 million
Marco’s Pizza has been operating since 1978, and it has more than 44 locations outside the USA. They recently got the Pizza Chain of the Year award in the Harris Poll Equi Survey. Italian immigrant Pasquale “Pat” Giammarco is the only major American pizza chain started by a native Italian. Marco’s Pizza separates itself by remaining authentic to Italian-style pizza. The restaurant industry guru, Jack Butorac, took over the chain in 2004 with 123 locations and grew it into the national chain. The chain’s primary purpose is to serve fresh ingredients rather than frozen and fully packed bulk packages.
The menu at Marco’s Pizza is designed to cater to different dining preferences, with options for delivery, take-out, dine-in, and catering. The menu features a variety of items, including wings, pizza, subs, salads, CinnaSquares, pizza bowls, co-branded Ghirardelli brownies, and CheezyBread.
Notably, Marco’s Pizza has also won recognition for its specialty pizzas, such as the White Cheezy pizza, which emerged as the winner of a gourmet competition in California. This highlights the company’s commitment to creating unique and delicious pizza offerings that stand out in the industry. (7)
Headquarters: Irving, Texas
Gross Annual Sales: $445 million
Cicis originated in Plano, Texas, in 1985 and was founded by Joe Croce and Mike Cole. Over the years, the chain has experienced significant growth. By 2001, with 363 restaurants in operation, Cicis expanded its buffet offerings and initiated restaurant remodeling efforts. Just four years later, they had surpassed 500 locations and earned the distinction of being the fastest-growing pizza chain in the United States. (8)
Cicis Pizza is the biggest pizza chain based on the buffet, founded in 1985. Their buffet concept is that a customer can eat the pizza from the buffet at a low price. And amazingly, there are 15 types of pizzas on the buffet menu to attract kids and adults. Joe Croce and Mike Cole created this concept to attract more families to provide them with different and tasty pizzas like macaroni and cheese pizza with wings as the topping.
To read about their history, click here.
People love eating fast foods, and pizzas are lifesavers for them. The big giants have opened many new franchises worldwide, and they are continuously expanding their already profitable business.
Currently, the largest food chain title goes to Domino’s. But let’s see what will happen in the coming years and who will grab the top position to get the title of the largest pizza chain globally.
(1) Peterson, Kim. “Domino’s gets a makeover, loses the ‘Pizza'”. MSN Money. Microsoft. Archived from the original on August 17, 2012. Retrieved March 21, 2013.
(2) “Pizza Hut scores Super Bowl sales touchdown with mobile orders | Retail Dive”. www.retaildive.com.
(3) Kim, Hae-Jung (May 27, 2021). “Little Caesars Franchise Cost & Fee Compared to Competitors (2022)”. Vetted Biz. Retrieved September 2, 2022.
(4) Barbaro, Michael (July 10, 2004). “Domino’s Prepares to Go Public as Pizza Chains Are Challenged”. The Washington Post. Archived from the original on September 21, 2013 – via HighBeam Research.
(5) “International Locations”. California Pizza Kitchen. Archived from the original on January 3, 2016. Retrieved January 3, 2016.
(6) 2011 non-U.S. system wide sales Retrieved July 11. 2015
(7) “Marco’s Pizza maker wins gourmet competition in California”. QSR Web. QSR Web. August 31, 2006. Archived from the original on February 23, 2015. Retrieved February 23, 2015.
(8) Zigu. “Rank 8 Cici’s Pizza : Top 10 Pizza Restaurants in the World 2015”. MBA Skool-Study.Learn.Share. Archived from the original on July 6, 2017. Retrieved April 29, 2020.