This Black Entrepreneur Owns 5 Pizza Franchises and is Planning to Open 20 More!

Leo Thomas, owner of 5 Marcos Pizza franchises

If you own one or two franchises, you're doing pretty good. But when you own 5, you are on your way to building an empire. And that's exactly what entrepreneur Leo Thomas is doing!
He opened his very first Marco’s Pizza franchise in 2014, which makes fresh, authentic, handmade Italian pizza, and now he owns five Marco’s Pizza locations in Riverside County, California. What's more is that Thomas has a development agreement to open 25 more stores in both Riverside and Orange County by 2024.

In the beginning

It all started when Thomas chose to attend the University of Phoenix, where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Management.

After graduation, he went on to gain 32 years of experience in the restaurant industry. His experience included managing a Boston Market for 3 years, a Starbucks for 6 years, and a Denny's for about 5 and a half years.

Taking the next step

One day, Thomas realized that he wanted to own his own restaurant instead of running someone else's. So, he used his own savings -- $400,000 -- to open his first franchise.

It was risky, but the investment was well worth the risk because he knew the business inside and out. However, he still had to prepare himself to own and manage multiple franchises. This required training and learning financial management and new store development. It also required a better understanding of profit and loss statements, and managing thousands of employees.

He admits it was a gamble in the beginning to use his savings to buy the first franchise, but it paid off very well for him. He chose Marco's Pizza because it is one of the nation’s fastest-growing pizza chains in the U.S.

Words of advice

Thomas has good words of advice for anyone wanting to become a multi-unit franchise owner. “The key to making money in the restaurant industry is picking the right concept; having a thorough, detailed business plan; and good site selection,” explains Thomas.

He also insists that you have to know what you are doing. Thomas says passion is not enough, and that you also need to fully understand all the different ways a business functions.

For more details about franchising opportunities at Marco's Pizza, visit

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