Marco’s Vs. Papa John’s: Which Pizza Chain Comes Out On Top?

Marco’s Pizza and Papa John’s are two of the most popular pizza chains in the United States. With thousands of locations across the country, they are go-to options for many pizza lovers looking for tasty and convenient pies.

But which pizza chain is really the best? Here is an in-depth comparison of Marco’s Pizza and Papa John’s Pizza to help you decide which one should be your new favorite.

A Brief Comparison Table

CategoryMarco’s PizzaPapa John’s Pizza
# of Locations900+5,300+
DoughFresh dailyFresh, never frozen
ToppingsGenerous portionsReal meats & veggies
Signature ItemsWhite Cheezy pizzaGarlic sauce
Menu VarietyFocused on main pizzas and subsWider variety including pastas, poppers, desserts
Loyalty ProgramNoneYes, rewards points system
Ordering TechnologyWebsite, mobile appWebsite, mobile app, social media
Customer ServiceCan be inconsistentFriendly neighborhood feel
Brand Awareness35%86%
Best ForFreshness, generously topped pizzasIngredients quality, rewards program, large footprint

Overview of Marco’s Pizza

Marco’s Pizza

Founded in 1978, Marco’s Pizza has grown to over 900 locations across 35 states.

They are known for their original Italian style pizza loaded with toppings and made with fresh dough daily.

Some of Marco’s most popular specialty pies include the White Cheezy, Deluxe, and All Meat pizzas.

In addition to pizza, Marco’s menu features oven-baked subs, salads, chicken wings, and cheesy bread.

They also offer desserts like cinnamon squares and chocolate chip pizza cookie.

For beverages, customers can choose from soft drinks, iced tea, lemonade, and beer and wine at select locations.

Marco’s offers convenient ordering options for pickup, delivery, and online ordering through their website or mobile app. Most Marco’s locations are franchised but the company is still headquartered in Toledo, Ohio.

Also Read: Comparison of Toppers And Papa John’s Pizza.

Overview of Papa John’s Pizza

Founded in 1984, Papa John’s has grown to over 5,300 locations across all 50 states and 40 international countries. They are known for better ingredients like fresh, never-frozen original dough, sliced veggies, and 100% real beef and pork toppings.

Some of Papa John’s most popular pizzas include the Cheese, Pepperoni, Meatzza, and Hawaiian Chicken pizzas.

In addition to pizzas, Papa John’s serves oven-baked sandwiches, chicken poppers, breadsticks, wings, and desserts like cinnamon rolls and cookies. They also provide a garden fresh salad as a lighter option. Customers can choose from a variety of beverages including soda, juices, teas, and coffee.

Papa John’s offers carryout, delivery, and online ordering through their website or mobile app. The company is headquartered in Jeffersontown, Kentucky. Most locations are company owned or franchised.

Marco’s Pizza Pros

  • Generous toppings: Marco’s piles on the toppings like pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms, onions, green peppers, and more. You can even get extra toppings at no additional cost with their specialty pizzas.
  • Fresh dough made daily: Marco’s makes fresh pizza dough from scratch in store every day. This guarantees a softer, fluffier crust.
  • White Cheezy pizza: This popular signature pie features ricotta and Parmesan on a garlic butter crust. It’s a unique white pizza you can’t get anywhere else.
  • Intimate neighborhood feel: Many Marco’s locations have a cozy, welcoming vibe perfect for dining with family and friends. Workers typically know regulars by name.
  • Kid-friendly options: Marco’s caters to kids with child sized pizzas, drinks, and their signature Pizza Bowls. Parents will appreciate the $5.99 price tag.

Papa John’s Pizza Pros

Papa John's Pizza
  • High quality ingredients: Papa John’s uses ingredients like fresh, never frozen dough, real meats and veggies, and 100% whole milk mozzarella cheese. This leads to better, fresher tasting pizza.
  • Garlic sauce: Papa John’s comes with a delicious garlic sauce for dipping crusts and adding flavor. It’s even available drizzled over top the pizza. Marco’s has no equivalent sauce.
  • Special deals: Papa John’s frequently offers special deals and discounts when ordering online. For example, they regularly have 50% off regular menu prices. Great for bargain hunters!
  • Larger restaurant footprint: With over 5,000 restaurants, Papa John’s has significantly more locations than Marco’s. This makes it more convenient for many customers.
  • Rewards program: Papa John’s has a rewards program where customers earn 1 point for every $ spent. Points can be redeemed for free food like pizzas, desserts, and sides.

Marco’s Pizza Cons

  • Limited locations: With restaurants in 35 states, Marco’s has a far smaller footprint than competitor Papa John’s. Many customers simply don’t live near a Marco’s.
  • Fewer menu options: Marco’s menu is focused on pizza, subs, wings, and salads. Papa John’s offers greater variety with pastas, chicken poppers, and desserts.
  • No loyalty program: Unlike Papa John’s, Marco’s does not currently offer a loyalty rewards program. You do not earn any incentives or free food for repeat purchases.
  • Less technology integrated: Marco’s lags behind Papa John’s when it comes to online ordering and digital integration. For example, there’s no option to order on social media.
  • Lower brand awareness: According to YouGov polling, Papa John’s has 86% brand awareness compared to Marco’s 35%. Many people are simply more familiar with Papa John’s.

Papa John’s Cons

  • Inconsistent customer service: Reviews sometimes complain about poor customer service at Papa John’s, like deliveries gone wrong or rude staff. Quality seems to depend on location.
  • Occasional soggy crusts: While ingredients are fresh, some customers report the crust being greasy or soggy on certain pizzas. This likely comes down to execution.
  • Confusing menu differences: The menu tends to differ between company owned vs franchised locations. This can be confusing if you visit different restaurants.
  • Controversies: Papa John’s founder John Schnatter received backlash for controversial comments in 2017, though he has since left the company. Marco’s has avoided any major scandals.
  • Lower toppings ratio: Some customers feel Papa John’s skimps on toppings compared to competitors. However, you can always pay extra to add more toppings.

Also Read: Differences Between Domino’s and Marco’s Pizza.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What makes Marcos pizza different?

Marco’s Pizza sets itself apart with fresh dough made daily in store, generous portions and toppings, signature menu items like the White Cheezy, and a welcoming neighborhood shop vibe.

Which brand pizza is best?

It depends on customer preferences. Marco’s is better for generous, customizable toppings and their fresh dough. Papa John’s is better for high quality ingredients, rewards program, and large restaurant footprint.

Who is Papa Johns biggest competitor?

Papa John’s considers its biggest competitors to be the national pizza chains Dominos, Pizza Hut, and Little Caesars. Of these, Dominos is seen as Papa John’s most direct competitor in product offerings and promotions.

What is the top pizza chain?

Based on total U.S. sales in 2021, the top pizza chains are: Pizza Hut, Domino’s, Little Caesars, Papa John’s, Marco’s Pizza, etc.
So while Papa John’s and Marco’s are very popular, Pizza Hut takes the top spot when it comes to total market share of the pizza industry.

Also Read: Is Ooni Better Than Alfa Pizza Oven?

The Verdict

When it comes to Marco’s vs Papa John’s, there are good reasons to choose either brand depending on your preferences for ingredients, toppings, rewards programs, menu variety, and location availability.

However, for customers focused on freshness and generous toppings, Marco’s Pizza comes out slightly ahead. Their fresh dough, pile-on toppings, and signature White Cheezy pizza give them an advantage in terms of pure pizza quality and enjoyment.

That said, Papa John’s wider footprint, brand recognition, and loyalty program certainly make it a top contender as well. You really can’t go wrong with either of these pizza giants for tasty and convenient meals.

The best option is to try both Marco’s and Papa John’s pizzas yourself and decide which brand you prefer!

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