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The most profitable pizza franchises of 2024

November 29th, 2023 By Emily Norwood

Pizza pie, as it turns out, is every bit as American as apple pie. How do we know this? Well, Americans eat more than 30 million slices of pizza per year, and each geographic region in the U.S. has its own approach to making the pies. 

With these incredible facts in mind, many people dream of opening a pizza shop. Often, the desire to run their own pizza business starts with a franchise opportunity. 

Pizza is an optimal food service option for franchising. What gives this ubiquitous food a boost in the franchise world? The secret can be found in pizza’s popularity and its simplicity.

Read on to learn more about what makes pizza a great franchise investment, and see our selections for the top five pizza franchises of 2024. 

Why pizza makes a great franchise opportunity

Launching a pizza franchise offers flexibility and reliable returns. Because pizza is both straightforward and infinitely customizable, this cuts down on inventory, preparation, and menu options needed for success. Here are some reasons investors and owner-operators have given us for starting a pizza franchise. 

Simple and versatile product: From vegan and gluten-free options to exotic combinations and high-quality ingredients, pizza offers something for everyone. Every pizza is recognizable yet unique, making it perfect for a streamlined food service experience.

Widely enjoyed food category: Pizza is an immensely popular food globally and, according to a September 2023 Harris Poll, it is the most popular food in the U.S. This level of enthusiasm means there is plenty of room for restaurants to deliver. Though the product is largely the same, locations can differentiate with service, add-ons, unique toppings, and presentation. 

Low-headcount model: You can run a pick-up location with a small staff: a clerk for orders and check-out, kitchen workers for pizza and cold food prep, a back-room employee washing dishes and sanitizing surfaces, and a delivery driver for orders. 

Easily scalable operations: Once you’ve successfully launched and staffed a pizza restaurant, scaling to multiple locations is easy. The ingredients, systems, packaging, and advertising are easily expanded to a larger network of units. Multi-unit owners may even take advantage of economies of scale when ordering ingredients and supplies.

What to look for in a pizza franchise

Every franchise is different, so it is essential to conduct thorough due diligence into opportunities. Have a knowledgeable franchise attorney or broker-advisor review the franchise disclosure documents (FDDs) to evaluate the franchise’s strength. In general, look for a few common indicators of a successful franchise brand:

  1. Well-established systems: Look for a franchise partner with a long track record of success, including mature sales systems and processes. Franchisors should be able to offer access to the systems, guidance, suppliers, and marketing to make opening a franchise location more user-friendly than launching a stand-alone business.
  2. Territory opportunities: Because pizza enjoys such massive popularity, there are plenty of opportunities to expand into multiple locations. Look for a brand partner with healthy territory options. This will allow you to scale your business to multiple locations as you experience success with your primary store.
  3. Strong revenues: Although food service has the reputation of working on slim profit margins, the same is not necessarily true of a pizza restaurant franchise. Conduct due diligence on your chosen franchise brand. You should see a strong track record of new store openings, gross sales growth, and high median profit with the right opportunity. 

The most profitable pizza franchises of 2024

As motivated as you might be to open a pizza franchise, choosing one can be a daunting task. There are more than 80,000 pizza restaurants in the United States and nearly half of those are franchises. So, we did the legwork and chose five profitable pizza franchises for you to consider.

Newk’s Eatery

A relative newcomer compared to the other franchises on this list, Newk’s Eatery serves pizza, sandwiches, and soups in a fast casual café environment. Locations also offer catering services and the Newk’s app allows customers to order online and accumulate reward points. The company was founded by the Newcomb family and prides itself on its freshly prepared ingredients and a philanthropic focus on raising money to fight ovarian cancer ($2M+ raised to date). Based in Mississippi and expanding across the South and Midwest, the Newk’s franchise team offers comprehensive support to new franchisees, including market analysis, lease negotiation, and construction management. 

Fast facts

  • Locations: 100
  • Founded: 2004
  • Franchised: 2005
  • EBITDA: $392K
  • Startup cost: $1.1M–$1.4M
  • Franchise fee: $40,000

Happy Joe’s Pizza and Ice Cream

Fast casual pizza chain Happy Joe’s serves up an award-winning menu of innovative recipes, and franchisees can choose between two location models. Full-sized, dine-in Happy Joe’s locations feature kids’ party rooms and game areas that are perfect for birthdays, family reunions, graduation parties, gatherings after sporting events or other social functions, and much more. Alternatively, efficiency-minded owners may opt instead to open a delivery and carry-out-only location. Happy Joe’s is actively expanding, seeking to partner with new franchisees across the U.S. and Mexico.

Fast facts

  • Locations: 39
  • Founded: 1972
  • Franchised: 1973
  • EBITDA: $297K
  • Startup cost: $487K–$1.2M 
  • Franchise fee: $20K–$30K

Domino’s Pizza

Domino’s is one of the most recognizable and enduring pizza franchises in the United States. With thousands of locations in the U.S. and abroad, Domino’s offers a combination of strong brand recognition, distinctive taste and presentation, and high-quality marketing and advertising. Most recently, the brand has redesigned its location experience, adopting a “Pizza Theatre” location layout that allows customers to see the preparation and packaging of food. The company also leverages technology to increase the speed and comfort of the customer experience. The app features an active order tracking system, live check-in for curbside pick-up, and a loyalty points system that allows customers to earn food rewards.

Fast facts

  • Locations: 19,000+ worldwide
  • Founded: 1960
  • Franchised: 1962
  • EBITDA: $204K
  • Startup cost: $157K–$683K 
  • Franchise fee: $10,000

Donatos Pizza

Ohio-based Donatos Pizza is known for its thin-crust pizza that’s “loaded Edge to Edge” with toppings, particularly its large pepperoni pizza that includes 100+ pepperoni slices. The company’s flexible restaurant floor plans include pick-up windows, efficient kitchens, and the ability to meet peak and catering demands. In addition, the Donatos online ordering platform accounts for more than 60% of sales and features predictive intelligence that calculates delivery times and demand for drivers.

Fast facts

  • Locations: 173
  • Founded: 1963
  • Franchised: 1991
  • EBITDA: $128K
  • Startup cost: $458K–$990K 
  • Franchise fee: $30,000

Toppers Pizza

Toppers Pizza founder Scott Gittrich started out delivering pizzas in the mid-1980s and has since grown this franchise into an industry leader, with 70+ locations experiencing 18 quarters of increasing same-store sales growth through fiscal year 2022. The pizza is crafted daily from scratch using authentic Wisconsin cheese. Toppers also pioneered a customized POS and integrated online ordering platform that has resulted in faster delivery times and higher unit-level economics for franchisees. 

Fast facts

  • Locations: 73
  • Founded: 1991
  • Franchised: 2000
  • EBITDA: $122K
  • Startup cost: $451K–$667M 
  • Franchise fee: $30,000

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Explore More Profitable Franchise Opportunities

If you’re considering expanding your business horizons, read on to learn about the most profitable franchise opportunities in each industry. Whether you’re a budding entrepreneur or a seasoned veteran in the franchise world, our curated selection will guide you toward making an informed decision. 

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