THE BLADE Enlarge | Buy This Photo
When readers of Consumer Reports ranked Marco’s Pizza the third-best pizza chain in the country, they weren’t breaking any news to company founder Pat Giammarco.
“It doesn’t surprise me really,” Mr. Giammarco said in an interview Thursday. “It surprises me we weren’t No 1. We’ve got a great product. Our products are fresh, we make our dough at each location, we don’t use any frozen cheeses.”
Mr. Giammarco’s comments are good-natured and he’s clearly grateful for the recognition. But he truly believes the company stands above the rest.
And why wouldn’t he? Marco’s has grown from a single store in suburban Toledo to a rapidly growing chain of 500 restaurants across 38 states.
In the last five years, Marco’s has gone from about 200 restaurants to 500. It made Inc. Magazine’s list of the 5,000 fastest-growing companies in the United States in 2010, and was named last year as one of the top 30 restaurant franchises in the United States by Entrepreneur magazine.
Mr. Giammarco said the recognition from Consumer Reports, published in the magazine’s August edition, is special because it comes from the customers.
The magazine said it surveyed more than 32,000 subscribers, who rated more than 96,000 separate experiences at 65 chains over the course of a year.
Marco’s scored 82 out of a possible 100, beating out larger chains including Pizza Hut, Papa Johns, Little Caesars, and Ann Arbor-based Domino’s. Papa Murphy’s Take ‘N’ Bake was top-rated in the category, with an 88. Sterling Heights, Mich.-based Jet’s Pizza was second with a score of 83.
Mr. Giammarco said Marco’s has been able to keep its quality high even while scaling up substantially.
“I think it’s a little more difficult but you’ve just got to work a little harder at it,” he said. “But then again, you have more people in the organization and the franchise community that have been doing it right, so you have more people able to teach and set a good example for the new franchisees.”
Officials have a growth plan that calls for 1,000 or more restaurants within the next three to four years.
“I think the word has really started spreading,” Mr. Giammarco said. “We have franchises available and we’re willing to take anybody who is willing to work hard and perform to the level we expect.”
Consumer Reports ranked Chick-fil-A best among chicken chains, California-based In-N-Out Burger best among burger chains, Illinois-based Portillo’s Hot Dogs best among sandwich chains, and California-based Rubio’s Fresh Mexican Grill best among Mexican chains.