Top U.S. Pizza Restaurant Chains and Trendsetters

Pizza Chains that Win for Sales, Units, and Setting Trends

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What are the top pizza restaurant chains the U.S.? If there is any doubt that the pizza segment of the U.S. restaurant sector of the retail industry is worth studying, consider that nearly 70,000 pizza restaurants sell about $38 billion worth of pizza each year in the U.S. That’s a lot of dough any way you look at it.

Rankings change from year to year, but here is a list of those from 2015. Most had over 500 units and all had gross sales of over $375 million.

Data is from 2015 Directory of Chain Restaurant Operators.

  • Pizza Hut: The champion for many years, with over 15,000 units and over $13 billion in gross sales.
  • Domino's: The delivery king, they have over 11,000 units and almost $9 billion in gross sales.
  • Little Caesars Pizza
  • Papa John's International
  • Papa Murphy's International
  • California Pizza Kitchen: They have fewer than 300 units but bring in sales that place them above other contenders with more units.
  • Sbarro
  • CiCi's Pizza
  • Chuck E. Cheese's
  • Marco's Pizza

Pizza Chain Trendsetters

The list of Top Ten Pizza Restaurant Chain Trendsetters in the U.S. for 2013 is based on innovation, technology, franchising, and marketing advancements are measures of success for the future, according to PizzaMarketplace.com. They compared 70 chains.

Even though the pizza restaurant chains ranked in the top ten of the 2013 pizza "movers and shakers” list contain all of the U.S. pizza chains with the largest annual revenues, the top ten pizza trendsetters are not in the order you might expect.

And there are some surprisingly small and unknown chains that are going dough to dough with the pizza mega-chains when measured up against the biggest trends in retail pizza operations.

2013 Top Ten U.S. Pizza Restaurant Chain Trendsetters

1    Dominos - Headquarters in Ann Arbor, Michigan

2    Papa John's - Headquarters in Louisville, Kentucky

3    Papa Murphy's - Headquarters in Vancouver, Washington

4    Pizza Hut - Headquarters in Plano, Texas

5    Naked Pizza - Headquarters in New Orleans, Louisiana

6    Little Caesars - Headquarters in Detroit, Michigan

7    Cici's - Coppell, Headquarters in Texas

8    Streetza Pizza - Headquarters in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

9    California Pizza Kitchen - Headquarters in Los Angeles, CA

10  Independents (Non-mega-chain pizza restaurants) - Headquarters Everywhere, USA

When Americans think of pizza, they think of comfort food, cheese, crust, sports, weekends, family, movie nights, parties, college students, home delivery, and leftovers. But when they think of pizza, do Americans think of Illinois, Texas, Michigan, and California? They should because these are the U.S. states with the most trendsetters on the list.

Not all of the largest U.S. pizza restaurant chains like Domino’s, Papa John’s, California Pizza Kitchen, and Pizza Hut are located in the midwest (although some of them are). Chains that are demonstrating the utilizing the most innovative pizza making and marketing strategies are located in these creative midwestern hubs.

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