Cinderella stories don’t only happen on the basketball court these days. Papa Murphy’s, the under-the-radar take ‘n’ bake pizza concept unknown in some parts of the country, scored an upset victory in the food world, ranking No. 1 with consumers in a recently released, prestigious consumer survey.

The underdog brand beat out full-service brands without having ovens, table service, delivery drivers, or bars. Instead, it relied on dough made fresh daily in stores, 100 percent real Mozzarella cheese, fresh veggies cut by hand, and premium meats that top every pie.

“Just like other first-choice brands out of the Pacific Northwest, as we expand our national footprint and more people try our fresh, high-quality pizza served hot out of their home oven, they get hooked and become fans for life,” says Ken Calwell, CEO of Papa Murphy’s, the world’s largest take ‘n’ bake pizza chain with 1,350 locations. 

In the just-released 2013 Consumer Restaurant Brand Metrics survey by Technomic, consumers rated Papa Murphy’s the No. 1 food chain over all full-service and limited-service chains.

The surprising results come from a two-year study, polling 80,000 people. By a wide margin, Papa Murphy’s ranked first, rated the highest in service, hospitality, convenience, takeout, and value among all of the chains studied.

The brand beat out well-known top chains, scoring well ahead of second place Cracker Barrel Old Country Store and topping Chick-fil-A, McAlister’s Deli, and Firehouse Subs.

“Pacific Northwest brands have a very loyal following because they give customers a product or an experience they can’t get anywhere else,” Calwell says. “In all of our stores, we come in early to make the pizza dough by hand, grate the 100 percent Mozzarella cheese, and slice our fresh vegetables.

“We help our customers create the highest-quality pizza to take home, bake, and serve to their families fresh out of the oven,” he adds. “That difference is what makes us the best-kept secret in restaurants. We are very thankful to be named No. 1 and proud that our owners invest in these extra steps so families can enjoy their perfect pizza.”

For the third straight year, customers ranked Papa Murphy’s No. 1 Rated Pizza Chain in Zagat’s Fast Food Surveys.

While competitors battle it out for the young male customer, who may switch brands for the lowest price or the value customer on-the-go, Papa Murphy’s core customer is the mom looking for fresh, high-quality ingredients she can be proud to bake in her own oven and feed to her family.

Papa Murphy’s has a variety of products on its menu, including a pizza for the health-conscious.

The thin and crispy Delite line of pizzas is packed full of flavor, with toppings like grilled chicken, sun-dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, and even bacon. But with 40 percent less fat and 30 percent fewer calories than its usual Signature pizzas, consumers love that they can enjoy this pizza without any of the guilt and without giving up taste.

The company can offer higher-quality pizzas without high prices because of the unique business model with low overhead.

Stores close by 10 p.m. and there are no delivery drivers, freezers, or ovens. Plus, square footage is smaller than most competitors because there’s no in-store dining.  

“We put all our money into our food,” Calwell says. “We may be the underdog in size, but not in flavor and customer satisfaction. We create our pizzas right in front of customers with the freshest ingredients to take home and bake in their ovens. We bring families together with food people love.”         

Consumer Trends, News, Outside Insights, Pizza, Papa Murphy's