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VOL. 128 | NO. 85 | Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Papa Murphy’s Considers 25 New Local Stores

By Andy Meek

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Papa Murphy’s, one of the largest pizza companies in the U.S., is looking to grow its Memphis presence exponentially.

The Vancouver, Wash.-based chain is looking to add as many as 25 stores in Memphis, where there are currently two existing Papa Murphy’s locations. That’s according to the company’s chief development officer Kevin King, who said the company already has a similarly strong presence in Nashville, with 20 stores there.

The chain’s “take-and-bake” concept is not what diners used to ordering takeout pizza might be familiar with. At Papa Murphy’s, all the ingredients are made fresh in the store.

Cheese is shredded from block mozzarella. Fresh vegetables are sliced in the store, dough is made fresh daily, and each pizza is, naturally, a custom-made product. The twist is that customers then take that pizza home and bake it themselves.

After they take it home, the pizza should be ready to eat after baking for 12 to 14 minutes.

The company’s tagline is “Handmade fresh. Home-baked great. Love at 425 degrees.”

“Pizza is best enjoyed made fresh, hot right out of the oven,” King said. “It was never intended to be stuck in a box for a length of time. The absolutely best way to enjoy pizza is a few minutes after it comes fresh out of the oven, so this gives you a tremendous amount of control.”

Customers who order from competitors, he goes on, are dependent on what time the deliverer shows up or how long it takes to drive to the pizza shop before the pie can be enjoyed.

“This concept is really about giving the customer the control, so they can have great, fresh pizza in their own home when they want it,” King said. “And it’s simple and easy to do. All you need is an oven that heats up to 425 degrees.”

Papa Murphy’s started its “take-and-bake” concept in 1981. Since then, the company has advertised itself as the largest chain pushing that concept in the world, and it’s the fifth-largest pizza company in the U.S., with more than 1,350 stores in 38 states.

But for the aspect of taking the pizza home to bake, the menu will look to customers like any other pizza menu. There are thin crust offerings, customizable pizza choices, stuffed pizzas, salads, desserts and more.

And the company is clearly doing something right. In the fall, Zagat ranked Papa Murphy’s the top pizza chain in the country in Zagat’s Fast-Food Survey – the third consecutive year Papa Murphy’s picked up that honor. Among large fast food chains with up to 5,000 U.S. locations, Papa Murphy’s was second in the Top Service and Top Food categories.

Papa Murphy’s also recently announced an expansion into the Middle East.

King said there are several qualities that make operating a Papa Murphy’s franchise attractive to franchisees, such as quality of life. It’s primarily a dinner business, so it’s not open for most of the day. The demand also is different from a traditional pizza restaurant, since Papa Murphy’s is all carryout and has no oven.

“The investment required also is low,” King said. “This is definitely a different slant on the pizza business. This is something that’s totally different.”

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