Marco’s Pizza Wednesday announced the official opening of its milestone 1,000th store in Kissimmee, Florida. The brand’s path to 1,000 stores charts an incredible journey—starting with an Italian founder, Pasquale Giammarco, and a dream of creating a pizza brand, to CEO Jack Butorac who discovered a growth opportunity, to the immigrant entrepreneurs—Kattya Barbaran and Rafi Vargas—behind this 1,000th store.
From its founding to this historic moment, Marco’s Pizza celebrates the opportunity franchising offers. Franchisees can pursue business ownership while joining to build a national brand alongside like-minded, passionate entrepreneurs.
Italian-born Pasquale “Pat” Giammarco came to America with his family as a young boy. His father had restaurants, and he, too, wanted to make the kind of fresh, quality pizza he remembered from his childhood. In 1978, Giammarco founded Marco’s Pizza and his authentic Italian quality pizzas quickly became a hit. He grew his restaurant into a brand serving communities throughout Indiana, Michigan and Ohio. In the mid-2000s, it was Butorac, a 40-year plus restaurant industry veteran, who saw the opportunity to take Marco’s and catapult it to a 1,000-plus-store high-quality pizza franchise. He felt pizza lovers deserved something better and knew Marco’s Pizza was what the market was missing. He became a consultant for Marco’s in 2003, and he purchased the franchise rights in 2004 at just over 120 stores—the brand then took off.
“Watching this company grow from our roots in Ohio to a beloved pizza brand across the country has been nothing short of remarkable,” says Butorac. “We have the best quality product in the industry, a tremendous leadership team, a group of exceptionally dedicated franchise partners and hard-working team members. As all these factors come together, we become an unstoppable force.”
Fast-forward to 2020, and Marco’s opens its 1,000th store with a pair of immigrant entrepreneurs who, too, saw potential in this primo pizza concept. Barbaran and Vargas both immigrated to the United States with the dream of owning their own business and giving back to their families. Their industry experience and unmatched work ethic made them the ideal candidates to open this milestone location and serve as the platform that paves the way for the next 1,000.
“Growing up as a young child in the Dominican Republic, never did I think I’d some day have the opportunity to own my own business,” adds Vargas. “This was made possible by finding an exceptional partner in Kattya—someone so dedicated and passionate, who shared an entrepreneurial mindset, that would propel us to open this milestone store.”
“While life throws you numerous challenges, your success lies in your ability to rise above the circumstances, remain determined and put your people first,” says Barbaran. “Despite our hardships and in the face of a global pandemic, this is exactly what we did—and it allowed us the opportunity to achieve this dream we’ve both had since childhood.”
Despite the pandemic, Marco’s remained committed to growth in 2020—opening 51 stores thus far with upwards of 80 locations expected to open total this year. Plus, it has 89 new store commitments in the pipeline, and recorded historic sales milestones, all while supporting communities nationwide via its ‘You Can Count on Marco’s Pizza’ commitment.
“Marco’s is a People-First organization – meaning that we’re only as strong as our franchisees, dedicated team members, and loyal customers,” adds Tony Libardi, president & COO of Marco’s Pizza. “We have built an incredible culture that continues to strengthen as we expand our nationwide footprint, and this is just the start of the tremendous growth opportunities that lie ahead.”
Marco’s is the only national pizza franchise founded by a native Italian. It has carved out a niche in the industry for authentic Italian quality pizza, known for its fresh dough made in-store daily, three fresh signature cheeses, and an original pizza sauce recipe.
“Marco’s has come a long way from its humble beginnings—a story of hard work, grit and resilience,” says Butorac. “I remember in my early conversations with Founder Pat [Giammarco] saying ‘you have a 1,000-store concept here,’ and to see this historic moment come to life, is truly an honor.”
Opening a new store every three and a half days on average, the Top 50 percent of its franchised stores generated $918,047 AUV for 2019.