Marco’s Pizza, the fastest-growing pizza franchise in the United States, is celebrating its milestone 700th location in Tyler, Texas, by delivering 7,000 pizzas to first responders all over the country March 13–19. The gesture is Marco’s way of saying thank you to the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s IS-700 program, which prepares local police, firefighters, and rescue workers to work effectively with state and national agencies in case of emergency. Marco’s Pizza of Tyler, Texas, will hold its grand opening between 1 and 4 p.m. on Sunday, March 13.

Marco’s is experiencing one of its strongest first quarters in company history. In addition to seeing its 700th store open, it’s on track to open 150 new stores in 2016. Marco’s Pizza’s success is due in part to franchise partners like Joe Pierce, who owns the Tyler store with his cousin Chris Boatman. Joe, 36, also owns a Marco’s Pizza in Lufkin, Texas, with Chris, and takes pride in their stores being a contributing member of the community by donating food to shelters, food banks, and events benefiting various local organizations.

“We continue to become active members of communities where we open stores, so it makes sense to honor our neighbors who protect us—the first responders. We couldn’t be happier with Joe and Chris being a big part of this as they exemplify Marco’s community spirit,” says Bryon Stephens, president and chief operating officer for Marco’s Pizza. “The 700th opening is testament to our smooth operations and our culture of accountability as we march toward the next milestones.”

Marco’s Pizza’s success and rapid growth is a result of its strong corporate backing, ability to take market share, unit-level profitability, high Italian food standards as well as capability to attract top talent among its franchisees and corporate staff.

As the only national franchise chain founded by a native Italian, Marco’s Pizza has carved out a niche in the industry as the expert in authentic Italian pizza, known for its fresh, never-frozen dough made daily on site, a proprietary cheese blend that is fresh, never-frozen and a secret pizza sauce recipe. The 700-unit company is poised to reach 1,000 locations by late 2017. Marco’s Pizza has more than doubled its size in less than five years.

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