Different Dough: Traverse City Man Goes from Finance to Marco’s Pizza Franchise | Business

TRAVERSE CITY – Somehow, Mark Smith can’t seem to escape working with the dough.

But his latest adventure certainly tastes much better.

Marco’s Pizza — a Toledo, Ohio-based franchise with more than 1,000 stores in 35 U.S. states and Puerto Rico — will have its first northern Michigan location next month when it opens at 916 US 31 South in Blair Township. Marco’s Pizza will move into part of the former Family Video home, just north of Chum’s Corner.

Franchisee Smith – a chartered accountant who spent 10 years at Rehmann and another 10 in risk management at Northwestern Bank and later Chemical Bank, TCF and Huntington – is happy to be getting into a different kind of pulp. Also, it was a privilege to work with his four teenage children.

“I decided to try something new and fun,” said the 1996 graduate of Traverse City Central High School.

It changed his career trajectory as he weighed his options between his past and his future.

“Make pizza…risk management,” Smith said, while turning his hands into an imaginary scale. “Making the pizza win, at least in my mind.

“It’s also an opportunity to work with my children. It’s exiting. When I told them I was ready to switch banks and they weren’t interested in the bank, I told them about Marco and they were like, “Really? Are you serious?'”

Smith opens the first Marco’s Pizza north of Ottawa County in an approximately 1,500 square foot space in the building in which Family Video operated before closing all of its stores in early 2021.

The take-out and delivery restaurant is expected to be open by mid-March. Chess Construction of Traverse City is building.

“We hope (it will be open) by March 15, but we are seeing supply chain issues,” Smith said.

He first tasted Marco’s Pizza in Jenison. He and his family were fans at first bite.

“I didn’t know it was a chain,” Smith said. “I just thought it was a quality, well-run neighborhood pizza place.”

Smith, who signed his franchise contract in February 2021, discovered that it was not just a national pizza chain, but a growing chain. He said 2020 was a banner year for Marco “and 2021 just shattered him”.

Although Marco’s Pizza is new to northern Michigan, Smith also realizes that there are other options nearby. Mancino’s Pizza and Grinders is located at 841 US 31, Jet’s Pizza is at 3985 Beitner Road, and Rico’s Café and Pizzeria is a mainstay of Grawn.

“I love it,” Smith said of Marco. “I wouldn’t have done this if I didn’t think it was high quality. There are plenty of great pizzas in the area and we just want to add to the mix. Good quality at a good price. »

The new Marco’s Pizza will be take-out and delivery only. Smith said there will be two entrances to the store, one in the front for the public and another on the side for employees, which will also include two dedicated curbside parking spaces for contactless delivery.

Smith – who spent six months working at an East Lansing site before opening his own store – said all the pizza dough is made daily. “It’s the Marco’s brand,” he said.

Marco’s menu features classic and original specialty pizzas, including White Cheezy, Deluxe, All Meat or Build-Your-Own Pizza, according to a company statement. Smith said Marco’s also offers gluten-free pizza in addition to Pizza Bowls, a crustless pizza cooked in a bowl.

Customers can also find baked subs, as well as CheezyBread, Chicken Dippers and Wings, salads and desserts, according to a statement. More information is available at www.marcos.com.

Finding yourself in an old Family Video store isn’t a surprise either. Highland Ventures Ltd., the parent company of Family Video, owned most of the buildings housing its roughly 250 locations when CEO Keith Hoogland announced in early 2021 that the stores were closing.

Jason Yuhasz, regional director of leasing and property management for Highland Ventures, said the company drafted some 220 leases in 2021 on the former Family Video sites, sometimes consolidating several different businesses into one building.

“We fill them,” Yuhasz said. “As a business, we draft three to six leases a week. Buildings fill up quickly.

Topping them with a Marco’s Pizza is one of them.

“They’re heavily invested in Marco’s,” Smith said of Highland Ventures. “There are approximately 150 Marco’s in the former Family Video locations and approximately 35 are Hoogland family franchisees.

“They pivoted well to other businesses.”

Smith should know that too. Her father, Ron, and grandfather, Dick, have been in the Northern Michigan real estate industry for decades.

The third generation just took a slightly different path, including a 20-year detour into finance and accounting.

“I just wanted something different,” said Mark Smith. “I love pizza. I wanted to work with my kids and change the pace.

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