Donatos recently ranked No. 159—the highest ranking thus far for the brand—in Entrepreneur magazine’s Franchise 500. Donatos has been ranked six times previously.

Placement in the Franchise 500 is a highly sought-after honor in the franchise industry, as evidenced by the fact that Entrepreneur received more than 1,000 applications this year, making it one of the company’s most competitive rankings ever. Recognized as an invaluable resource for potential franchisees, Donatos’ ranking in the Franchise 500 signifies its outstanding performance in areas including unit growth, financial strength and stability, and brand power.

“We are honored to be recognized by the Franchise 500 as one of the top franchises among 4,000 active systems,” says Jeff Baldwin, Vice President of Development. “For more than 55 years, Donatos has believed that Every Piece Is Important™ and that it is more than our commitment to premium delivered pizza with edge to edge toppings. This ranking highlights our commitment to our family values, our dedication to our franchise partners and our passion for community connection. It is this recognition and these values that will continue to grow our brand for years to come.”

Donatos was founded in 1963 when Ohio State sophomore Jim Grote bought a small pizza shop in Columbus, Ohio from a young seminarian for $1,300. The company was classified “Best in Class” and acquired by McDonald’s Corporation in 1999, at a time when the burger giant was buying small concepts. McDonald’s sold the chain back to Grote and his daughter, Jane Abell, in 2003. The brand now has 159 restaurants in nine states.

In addition to its Edge-to-Edge pizza, Donatos’ trademark that refers to toppings that go right to the edge of the pizza, the restaurant serves fresh salads, oven-baked subs and boneless or traditional baked chicken wings that are available naked, sauced or dry-rubbed. Along with dine-in experience, Donatos also offers pick-up, delivery and catering services, along with 25 fresh toppings for customizable and signature pizzas.

Over its 40 years in existence, the Franchise 500 has become both a dominant competitive measure for franchisors and a primary research tool for potential franchisees. Donatos’ position on the ranking is a testament to its strength as a franchise opportunity.

The key factors that go into the evaluation include costs and fees, size and growth, support, brand strength, and financial strength and stability. Each franchise is given a cumulative score based on an analysis of more than 150 data points, and the 500 franchises with the highest cumulative scores become the Franchise 500 in ranking order.     

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