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Top 10 Pizza Franchises in 2009




Pizza Franchise Review
The pizza business includes both mom-and-pop establishments as well as some of the largest corporate players in the world of franchising.  Because ingredients are relatively inexpensive and equipment is minimal – the most you need is a pizza oven, a clean workspace, and some well-trained pizza flippers – owning a pizza franchise is incredibly popular.  There are tons of choices out there, so deciding which business to buy can be challenging.  One should balance name recognition with the cost of operation, and take a close look at the competition.  Here are the top pizza franchises for 2009 as determined by one of the industry’s most trusted trade journals.

1. Pizza Hut
Pizza Hut is to the flat pie as McDonald’s is to the round burger – the 800-pound gorilla in the room.  Founded in 1958, there are more than 14,000 locations of this family-style pizza franchise restaurant.  The initial franchise fee is $25,000, and one’s total investment will range from $268,000 to $1.4 million.  The company charges a 6.5 percent royalty on gross sales.

2. Domino’s Pizza
While it may place second among pizzeria franchises, Domino’s Pizza ranks first in the takeout/delivery category.  Some establishments have a small seating area for dine-in customers, but the vast majority of its business involves home consumption.  The company began in 1960 and currently has 8,600-plus locations.  The initial franchise fee is $3,300, and one’s total investment will range from $141,000 to $415,000.  The company charges a 5.5 percent royalty on gross sales.

3. Papa John’s Pizza
This franchise has come a long way since its inception in 1985, enjoying a huge jump in growth over the past ten years or so.  Nearly all its business falls into the category of takeout/delivery, and the company has more than 3,200 locations.  The initial franchise fee is $20,000, and one’s total investment will run approximately $250,000.  The company charges a four percent royalty on gross sales.

4. Little Caesars
From its old TV commercials that cried out “pizza, pizza” to denote the fact that each order was a double, Little Caesars continues to enjoy worldwide success in the takeout/delivery pizza world.  The company began operations in 1959 and has 2,000 locations.  One’s total investment to open a Little Caesars franchise will range from $109,000 to $300,000.

5. Noble Roman’s Pizza
Sounding suspiciously similar to the company just ahead on this list, Noble Roman’s Pizza offers a fairly inexpensive buy-in for franchisees.  The company got its start in 1972 and currently has 1,400 locations.  The initial franchise fee begins at $6,000, and one’s total investment will range from $27,000 to $132,000.  The company charges a royalty on gross sales that starts at seven percent.

6. Papa Murphy’s Take ‘N’ Bake Pizza
The idea of doing everything to a pizza at a retail location except for popping it into the oven is best exemplified by the Papa Murphy’s chain.  You order it, they build it, and then you take it home to your own kitchen for baking.  The company began in 1981 and currently has slightly more than a thousand locations.  The initial franchise fee begins at $15,000, and one’s total investment will range from $181,000 to $272,000.  The company charges a five percent royalty on gross sales.

7. Sbarro Italian Eatery
Most Sbarro restaurants are found in shopping malls and similar locations.  This company, which opened for business in 1956, is part of the quick-serve pizza market.  Most of their sales are on a by-the-slice basis, and each of the thousand-plus locations offers other Italian-type food such as pasta.  The initial franchise fee begins at $15,000, and one’s total investment will range from $250,000 to $850,000.  The company charges a seven percent royalty on gross sales.

8. Godfather’s Pizza
This chain got its start in Omaha in 1973 and has since expanded to more than 600 locations in 30 states.  This is another example of the quick-serve model, although most stores occupy stand-along buildings or strip-mall shops.  The initial franchise fee is $20,000, and one’s total investment will range from $100,000 to $360,000.

9. CiCi’s Pizza
This is the only pizza franchise on the list that occupies an interesting business niche – the pizza buffet restaurant.  Visitors to a CiCi’s pay a flat price for all-you-can-eat pizza, pasta, salads and desserts.  There are often as many as 16 different pizzas from which to choose.  The company started in 1985 and has 600-plus locations.  The initial franchise fee is $30,000, and one’s total investment will range from $418,000 to $660,000.  The company charges a four percent royalty on gross sales.

10. Hungry Howie’s Pizza
More than simply a pizza shop – Hungry Howie’s also features sub sandwiches and chicken wings – nearly every one of the company’s 570-plus locations offers its goods on a takeout/delivery basis.  The company got its start in a Detroit suburb back in 1973.  The initial franchise fee begins at $9,500, and one’s total investment will range from $120,000 to $430,000.  The company charges a five percent royalty on gross sales.

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