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Ryan Johnson, Forum Communications Co., Published November 15 2011

Marco’s Pizza coming to Grand Forks, seeking location in Fargo

GRAND FORKS – A new pizza chain is coming here early next year, and the local owner said he plans to eventually open a total of 12 restaurants across North Dakota and northern Minnesota.

Joe Deck said construction could begin by the end of the week on the first Marco’s Pizza franchise in the region. The restaurant will take up about 2,100 square feet of the existing Grand Storage building at 3901 S. Washington St., which will be converted into a strip mall with room for three businesses.

Deck is now securing city permits and approval from the health inspector. Because the project will require only minimal construction, he said the restaurant could be open by the first or second week of January.

Deck said the location should appeal to residents on the growing south end of town who now have few nearby dining options.

“32nd Avenue seems to be saturated, and we didn’t want to go head to head with everybody there, especially with the new pizza chains coming in,” he said.

Instead, he said the restaurant will give south Grand Forks workers and residents a new “neighborhood pizza parlor” in the heart of new development along Washington Street.

A native of Southern California, Deck has lived in Grand Forks for about 10 years. He said he has been in the restaurant business for years, and was one of the original owners of a management company that operated Applebee’s restaurants across North Dakota.

Deck, 45, said he was looking into a new franchise to bring to the state and found Marco’s Pizza to be a good fit because it is one of the fastest-growing pizza chains in the country.

Headquartered in Toledo, Ohio, Marco’s Pizza was founded in 1978 and now has more than 250 restaurants in 20 states and the Bahamas. More than 900 new locations have been signed across the U.S.

But the franchise’s closest restaurant now is in

Wisconsin.

Deck said he and a group of local investors secured the development rights for Marco’s Pizza in North Dakota and northern Minnesota. The group is already searching for property in central Fargo, he said.

All together, Deck said he plans to build a total of 12 Marco’s restaurants across the region within the next five to seven years.

Besides Grand Forks and Fargo, other possible locations include Williston, Dickinson, Minot, Bis-marck, Jamestown and Valley City, N.D., and Bemidji, Minn., he said.

‘Italian authenticity’

Marco’s Pizza focuses on the “Italian authenticity” of its food, Deck said. The restaurants make the dough fresh every day and use fresh, not frozen, cheese.

“That brings the quality up quite a bit,” he said.

Customers can choose from four crust options and a variety of pizza toppings, as well as chicken wings, subs and salads.

Deck said the Grand Forks restaurant will offer delivery service focusing on the south end of town that now has limited delivery options.

Marco’s Pizza also will be open seven days a week for carryout and dine-in, with seating for about 30 customers.

Deck said the Grand Forks location eventually will employ about 25 to 30 employees, including eight full-time positions.


Ryan Johnson writes for the Grand Forks Herald