History of Pizza Chains

Let’s now take a look at the humble beginnings of pizza chains. How did the top three pizza chains: Pizza Hut, Domino’s Pizza, Inc., and Papa John’s begin their highly successful pizza businesses? Pizza Hut started out in 1958, when brothers Dan Carney and Frank Carney borrowed $600 from their mother in order to open a pizza restaurant, located in Wichita, Kansas. The building was 503 South Bluff in downtown Wichita, where the brothers bought secondhand equipment in order to make their pizza. The restaurant at first only had twenty-five seats, and only had room for nine letters on the restaurant’s sign – so because the place looked like a hut, the name “Pizza Hut” was coined and used. To generate interest in the newly established pizza restaurant, the brothers gave out free pizza to attract customers. In 1959, Pizza Hut was incorporated in Kansas. Pizza Hut is the world’s largest user of cheese, and a secret recipe for their Insider pizza uses a pound of cheese. Take the length of a summer, for example, and imagine Pizza Hut using 100 million pounds of cheese – requiring 360 gallons of milk. Pizza Hut also uses 700 million pounds of pepperoni and 525 million pounds of tomatoes annually. Domino’s Pizza, Inc. started out with only one store in 1960, with Tom Monaghan and his brother James Monaghan borrowing $900 in order to buy DomiNick’s, a pizza store located in Ypsilanti, Michigan. James Monaghan then trades half of the business to his brother for a Volkswagen Beetle. Now with Tom as the owner of the company, he changed the business name to “Domino’s Pizza, Inc.” In 1967, the first Domino’s Pizza franchise store opened in Ypsilanti. Papa John’s started out with founder John Schnatter, who was just a high school student working at a local pizza pub in Jeffersonville, Indiana. However, he felt like there was something missing from the current pizza of his time – a pizza chain that delivered quality pizza to customers’ doors. In 1984, he turned a broom closet from his father’s tavern, Mick’s Lounge, with a funding of $1600 for equipment, to deliver pizzas. John used fresh dough and high grade ingredients, and this allowed a large customer base to build up. That same year, he opened up the first Papa John’s restaurant. With these humble starts of the top three pizza chains, lasts a long impression on the pizza community. Not only did it spawn a generation of pizza restaurants, but it also established pizza as a staple food of New York City.

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