How Papa Murphy's Succeeded By Merging Two Failing Businesses

For most of the United States, Papa Murphy's is a household name when it comes to take-and-bake pizza options. This chain only serves pre-made pizzas that you bake at home at your convenience, whether you need a quick and easy meal for your family or for whenever a craving strikes. Catering to different palettes, you can order stuffed crust pizza, thin crust, and even gluten-free dough with Murphy's classic cheese pizza, pepperoni, vegetarian, and all-meat options (via the company menu). 

If you live in the U.S., it's likely you have a Papa Murphy's near you, since the company operates over 1300 take-and-bake pick up spots. The chain has also expanded to Canada and the United Arab Emirates.

But Papa Murphy's that we know so well today, which boasts its status as the "the 5th largest pizza franchise in the world," might never have existed if not for one man's unique insight. In the beginning, the company was actually two different struggling chains — Pizza Aldo and Murphy's Pizza — that merged to create Papa Murphy's, according to Papa Murphy's franchise website

A few tweaks turned this pizza chain from a zero to a hero

Pizza Aldo had been in operation since 1981 and was managed well, but wasn't as popular as Murphy's Pizza due to its focus on using frozen pizza ingredients instead of fresh and being stingy when it came to adding toppings, according to Funding Universe. On the other hand, Murphy's Pizza offered fresh ingredients, but the company's owner, Robert Graham, wasn't well-versed in operating a fast-food business and struggled to get his pizzerias off the ground. You can have a great concept and do everything right when catering to customers but if you're not business savvy, things can go awry quickly. So this is when Papa Murphy's comes into the picture and a merger happens. 

Terry Collins, a food executive, saw potential in both restaurants and liked the concept of the take-and-bake pizza. In 1988, Collins invested $500,000 to be come a 51% majority stakeholder in Murphy's seven stores. A couple years later in 1990, he invested $1 million to buy up 65 Papa Aldo restaurants, with the intention of replacing the inferior Pizza Aldo product with that of Murphy's Pizza. Collins merged the two chains in 1995, which created the new brand, Papa Murphy's. Over the years, this chain has been sold and owned by different companies and most recently was sold to MTY Food Group in 2019, according to Seattle Times