Veteran-Friendly Franchise Feels Like Family to Marco’s Pizza® Owners

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Edwin and Yesenia Baron were looking for the right fit for their entrepreneurial ambitions after retiring from their military and law enforcement careers. They found it in Marco’s Pizza.

With decades of experience across multiple branches of the U.S. military and law enforcement, new Marco’s Pizza franchisees Edwin and Yesenia Baron know what makes for a veteran-friendly franchise. The robust systems and support Marco’s Pizza offers made a huge impression, and our family-oriented atmosphere, both as a restaurant and a company, sealed the deal. And even though they’ve just started, they already have their sights set on more locations.

Apopka, FL, Marco’s Pizza owners Edwin and Yesenia Baron
Apopka, FL, Marco’s Pizza owners Edwin and Yesenia Baron

What’s your career background?

I spent six years in the Marine Corps, two years in the Navy Reserves, then I went into law enforcement. I retired from law enforcement in 2012, and I went overseas with the State Department for a little while. My wife Yesenia worked with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, and after she retired from that, she went on to work as a liaison for the Amber Alert program. She currently works for the Amber Alert program, training law enforcement agencies from the East Coast on how to properly train their teams.

Why did you decide to open a Marco’s?

My wife and I have always had an entrepreneurial spirit, and in addition to our main careers, we’ve also owned a few businesses. We’ve tried a few things – we had a coffee distribution company, we had an exercise and fitness company – but it was always secondary to our primary jobs. When we came back from overseas, I wanted to take our investment money and create a legacy for our children, for our family. We wanted to create residual income for our own retirement as well.

We looked into a few franchises, like Jimmy John’s and a few others, but it wasn’t until we got to Marco’s Pizza that we got a sense of fitting in. A lot of the other franchises felt like they were more interested in getting our money than they were in extending their market, but Marco’s was different. During the process, we got a call from our regional area rep and he told me, “Before we get too far into this, we have to make sure that you’re the right fit for us, and in turn, you can see if you like what we offer.” And I thought that was great. I told my wife, these are the people we want to associate with.

How have your military and law enforcement careers prepared you for owning your Marco’s Pizza franchise?

It’s a good franchise for military veterans and law enforcement, because we’re part of a goal-oriented team that has the same mindset. We knew we were making the right choice when we were speaking to Marco’s and we said, “You know, this company has the same mindset that we do.” We work as a team. They’re not out to just get a check and let you fail. They want to see you succeed, and they help you succeed by providing a knowledgeable area rep and highly skilled field trainers. It has the type of structure that we’re used to in the military and in law enforcement; basically, it has a chain of command. You don’t want to divert from their process or their system, because it’s a proven method. If you trust the system, you’re going to succeed.

A view of the awnings and sign on the front of the Marco’s Pizza location in Apopka, FL.
Franchisee Edwin Baron says he looks forward to connecting with his community and becoming the “pizza mayor” of Apopka, FL.

When you’re coming from a different career like I am, you might think “OK, if you want to open up a restaurant, you’ve got to have restaurant experience. You have to know something about the business.” But truthfully, as long as you have heart, you have dedication, and you trust the process that Marco’s offers you, there’s basically no way to fail.

When it comes to running the store, I’m hiring the right people, and even though I will be there every day as an owner-operator, my job is more, as we say in the military, “overwatch.” I want to be the extra hand. I can also go out and do the local store marketing, and let the community know I’m not only a business owner, I’m also a resident and I care what happens in town.

What kinds of specific support and training have you been getting from the corporate team?

In the beginning, they give you an outline of what it is they expect and what it is you should expect. I’ve been in contact daily with the area rep, taking the process step-by-step. Then we’re learning the systems, from the point-of-sale system to the large equipment.

Our area rep is phenomenal. It’s the same thing with corporate; everybody at corporate is just incredible, everybody’s just a phone call away. The whole company just feels like a family, and you can’t help but fall in love with it.

Why do customers choose Marco’s Pizza?

The freshness. It’s just a great product. Prior to opening, we had a lot of pre-marketing and Facebook ads letting people know that we’re coming, and we were getting constant comments of “Oh, Marco’s is the best,” “Marco’s is great.” If you get the pizza in someone’s hands and they eat it, you’re going to have a customer for life, because the product is phenomenal, everything is fresh, we make our own dough, nothing is frozen.

Another aspect is customer service. We offer a five-star guest experience, and corporate and the area rep train you on what that means. That friendliness, that local store marketing focus, all of that helps connect the owner of the store to the community. Everybody knows you, because you’re the owner of the store. If you do it right, if you follow the system, you’re out there in the street and you become the “pizza mayor” of your town, and people like that. People like that warmth. When they say, “I’m going to Marco’s,” it’s not just a pizza place, it means family, it means friends, it means an environment where they know we’re going to do right by them. That five-star experience is key, and I’m glad that we all focus a lot on that.

A close-up shot of a Pepperoni Magnifico pizza dusted with Parmesan cheese.
Fresh, delicious pizza draws guests to their local Marco’s Pizza locations, and sales are growing for franchise owners.

What are you most looking forward to about being a Marco’s Pizza owner?

The people. It’s very family-oriented, we wanted a place for people to come that’s almost like the old show “Cheers,” where you come in and everyone knows your name. I’m looking forward to being a host for the town.

How do you feel about your ability to meet your business goals with Marco’s?

Very strongly. We believe in it so much that we’ve already purchased the rights to a second location in the northern part of our town. That’s probably a couple years out still, to get that next store open, but we’ve also set a goal to do five stores. As a family-run business, that’s a big goal, but we can do it.

Learn more about our veteran-friendly franchise opportunity

Marco’s Pizza is dedicated to giving back to those who have served our country. With our incentives and discounts, we’re a great franchise opportunity for veterans, and we even offer a franchise fee discount for qualified firefighters and law enforcement officers with five or more years of service.

Download our franchise report for in-depth details about why we’re one of the top pizza franchise opportunities in the U.S. You can also learn more by exploring our research pages, our franchise referral program or our recent feature articles.