By LISA MONTI
The Papa Murphy’s pizza chain, which sells fresh, hand-crafted pizzas that cus-tomers bake at home, is looking to expand in the Jackson area and in other Missis-sippi markets.
The Oregon-based Papa Murphy’s Holdings Inc. was founded in 1981 and operates more than 1,500 franchises and corporate fresh pizza stores across the country and in Canada and the United Arab Emirates.
“We currently have four stores open in Mississippi, primarily as part of our Memphis development efforts,” said Gary Payne, vice president of franchise sales. “With over 1,500 stores in 38 states, expanding further in Mississippi is a logical next step as we continue to grow.”
Papa Murphy’s bills itself as the fifth- largest pizza chain in the U.S. and the leader in the bake-at-home market. Propelling its growth is a simple operations model.
“Since no cooking occurs in our stores, we have no need for freezers, microwaves or ovens,” Payne said. “This makes our concept less labor intensive than other res-taurant opportunities.”
The robust pizza restaurant category has $40 billion in annual sales and Payne said Papa Murphy’s holds a one of a kind place in the market. “We also have a unique target, appealing to moms, dads and families who are trying to solve the dinnertime dilemma by providing a convenient, high-quality meal,” he said.
Papa Murphy’s features dough made fresh daily in each store, vegetables are chopped by hand and cheese is grated from large blocks. Meat toppings are free of fillers and additives and the chicken is raised without antibiotics, according to the company.
The pizzas are made to order from toppings to crust, wrapped atop a disposable baking tray and take 12 to 18 minutes to cook in a home oven.
“Our brand is highly driven by families who appreciate high quality pizza at an ex-tremely affordable price,” Payne said. “Our demographic research shows the Jackson region has the perfect mix of those families searching for value driven, high quality food options, so we think that helps prime our brand for quick success in the market.”
Robyn and Scott Johnstone, the owners of the Olive Branch franchise, have found success with the Papa Murphy’s brand. Robyn, a stay-at-home mom, and Scott, a pilot, opened their store in 2014 with no experience in the industry. Scott is from Oregon and was familiar with the Papa Murphy’s concept and meals. “We always wanted to go into business and we loved the product,” Robyn said.
Their business is growing as more people hear about the convenience of the take-and-bake meals and the quality of the products, she said.
“People are looking for an alternative to doing something for dinner that is easy and fresh. Once they try it, they keep coming back. It’s a great concept,” she said. “We’ve seen growth and it’s really going great.”
The corporation provided all the necessary training before they opened their store. “We had never run a business before and they taught us everything we needed to know on how to run the business on a daily basis and how to market it,” Johnstone said.
Payne said the company is offering Mississippi franchisees incentives to open Papa Murphy’s in new markets. The $25,000 franchise fee is being reduced by $5,000 and the royalty fee is being waived for the first 12 months a new store is open.
“In Mississippi, we are looking for candidates that would like to develop a desig-nated market,” he said. “These could be existing franchisees of other concepts who want to grow their organization with another brand in the areas they currently op-erate, or someone from outside the industry.”
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