The Top 10 US Pizza Chains
Pizza is a $38 billion industry in the US. Here are the top pizza chains across this great nation, based on gross sales in 2014.
1. Pizza Hut - $12,900,000,000
Pizza Hut is truly enormous. Raking in nearly $13 billion last year, the chain is best known for its red roof architecture. The style is so distinctive that the blog Used to Be a Pizza Hut collects photos of former Pizza Hut restaurants now turned into other businesses.
2. Domino's Pizza - $8,000,000,000
Domino's is nipping at Pizza Hut's heels. For decades, Domino's offered a guarantee that your pizza would arrive in 30 minutes or less, or it would be free. The policy was terminated in 1993 in the US, and Domino's has since focused on expanding its menu with pasta, sandwiches, and other goodies.
3. Papa John’s Pizza - $3,000,000,000
Headquartered in Jeffersontown, Kentucky, Papa John's was the first national pizza chain to offer online ordering in the US, way back in 2002. They also made waves in 2008 after calling LeBron James a "Cry Baby" on promotional tee-shirts. To apologize, they offered 23-cent pizzas (James's jersey number) in Cleveland. While fans grumbled, they lined up for hours to get the nearly-free pies.
4. Little Caesars Pizza - $2,900,000,000
Founded in 1959 by Mike and Marian Ilitch, Little Caesars focuses on carry-out pizza at ultra-competitive prices. Using slogans like "Pizza! Pizza!"; "Pan! Pan!"; and "Deep Deep Dish," the chain offers hot cheese pizzas for just five bucks.
5. Papa Murphy’s - $785,630,000
Papa Murphy's offers exclusively "take and bake" pizza, where the ingredients are put together in front of you, then you bake the pizza at home. It's the only large chain to offer this kind of pizza, and it's a smart business model—stores don't need pizza ovens!
6. California Pizza Kitchen - $739,000,000
The first CPK launched in 1985 in Beverly Hills, California. The focus is on gourmet pizza, including a line of relatively fancy frozen pizzas. In many locations, CPK also offers gluten-free crust as an option, making it a favorite for gluten-intolerant pizza lovers.
7. Sbarro - $600,000,000
Sbarro launched in 1956 in Brooklyn, founded by Italian immigrants Gennaro and Carmela Sbarro. In the decades since, their quick-service pizza-by-the-slice restaurants have been a fixture of mall shopping courts, but their most notable location is in the Pentagon.
8. CiCi’s Pizza - $475,000,000
CiCi’s Pizza is the world's largest pizza buffet chain. It features all sorts of wild stuff including a macaroni-and-cheese pizza. The chain boasts that if all of their buffets were lined up, they would measure almost five miles long.
9. Chuck E. Cheese's - $405,000,000
The first Chuck E. Cheese's restaurant opened in 1977, the brainchild of Nolan Bushnell, who also founded Atari (among many other businesses). The concept was simple: Provide a place for kids to play and eat pizza, while parents drink beer and eat pizza. Having onsite arcade games, animatronic entertainment, and tons of pizza is a potent combination, keeping this classic family restaurant in the top ten.
10. Round Table Pizza - $378,000,000
In 1958, Bill Larson concluded four years of US Navy service and got a job at a pizza parlor in San Mateo, California. A year later, he founded his own: Round Table Pizza. Using a King Arthur theme, Round Table has often featured knights and shields in its logo. The knight theme originated when Larson saw drawings of King Arthur's court eating pizza.
(Source: Pizza Today. Logos via Wikimedia Commons.)