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Leading the pack is Pie Five Pizza Co., created in 2011 by Pizza Inn Holdings Inc., and based in The Colony, Texas, as a secondary sister brand to the more than 300-unit Pizza Inn.

A Nation’s Restaurant News Hot Concept winner in 2012, Pie Five has attracted both experienced and celebrity franchisees, including most recently former NFL player Billy Bajema, who plans to open 10 units in Oklahoma.

Units: 20 by the week of April 20, in Texas, North Carolina, Kansas, Utah and Florida

Units by end of 2014: Store count will “nearly double,” with two new (unidentified) states added to the location list.

Signed franchise agreements: 160 to open in two to three years.

Menu news: In addition to signature and build-your-own pizzas, the menu includes limited-time offers that are sometimes made permanent.

What gives it an edge: Pie Five is backed by parent Pizza Inn, which has helped the chain attract established franchise operators.