Today Domino’s Pizza is the second-largest franchised pizza chain in the United States with 17,200 stores spread out to 5,701 cities across the world, but it didn’t start that way. They pioneered the 30 minutes or less pizza delivery concept that revolutionized the industry and endured some tough times before reaching their status as the pizza king and all the glory that goes along with it.
Like many other businesses, Domino’s pizza restaurant in 1961 started with just one store in Ypsilanti, Michigan. Brothers Tom and James Monaghan bought a small pizza restaurant called DomiNick’s from the previous owner for a $500 down payment and $900 in loans. One year into the business, James decided to trade his shares for a second-class Volkswagen Beetle. He liked his full-time postman job; he didn’t want to quit his job to meet the demands of the new business. Four years later in 1965, Tom purchased two more pizzerias because he wanted additional stores with the same branding, but the original owner of DomiNick’s, wouldn’t allow Tom to use the name. An employee named Jim Kennedy returned from a pizza delivery and suggested Tom adopt Domino’s as the new name. Immediately he loved the idea, and in 1965 the business officially became known as Domino’s Pizza, Inc.
The original pizzeria logo has three dots representing the three original Domino’s stores. Tom wanted a new dot to be added every time they opened a new store, but the idea was not practicable as the business boomed and expanded quickly. In 1967 Domino’s opened their first franchised location and by 1978 they had grown to over 200 stores in the United States. In 1975, Amstar Corporation, Domino Sugarmakers, served them a lawsuit for alleged trademark violation and unfair competition for using the name Domino’s. The case took a while with a series of appeals, but on 2nd May 1980, the New Orleans court of appeal ruled in Tom’s favor.
The Domino’s Pizza brand gained access to the international market on 12th May 1983, and the first international store was opened in Winnipeg, Canada. The new market worked well and within the same year, they opened the 100th store in Vancouver, Washington. In 1985 Domino’s Pizza expanded their services to Luton in the United Kingdom and Tokyo, japan’s capital city. In 1993 they became the second-ever American franchise to open a business in the Dominican Republic and first ever to taste the Haitian market under the stewardship of Luis de Jesús Rodríguez. Their growth from here on out was rapid and by 1997 they had established over 1,500 stores in various locations on six continents around the world. This milestone we celebrated by unveiling seven new stores across five continents on the same day.
In 2017, Dash Brands ltd acquired exclusive rights for the Hong Kong and Macau Domino’s Pizza. Having conquered almost all other markets, it was time to storm the home of pizza. The Domino’s store was established on October 5th, 2015 in Milan.
For many years Domino’s Pizza was a privately held company. Tom Monaghan lead the company for 38 years as CEO before he decided to retire. In 1998 93% of the company was sold to Bain Capital for a billion dollars. In 2004, Domino’s Pizza was finally listed on New York Stock Exchange under the DPZ ticker symbol after 44 years of private ownership.
Today Dominio’s Pizza continues to evolve and find innovative ways to serve customers better. As a result, they’ve continued to do well despite the glut of pizza concepts that have opened in the last few decades. The secret to Domino’s business success was baked in early on with the focus and commitment made in the early years of the business. While James made the choice at the time to pursue a full-time job, Tom’s dedication allowed him to turn his $500 investment into a billion-dollar business in just hair under four decades.
The story of Domino’s Pizza is a great example of a business and a leader that focused on getting better year after year to build a great brand. Domino’s Pizza was not an overnight success especially compared to the “unicorns” we hear about today. It took Tom 38 years of hard work with many ups and downs in order to get there. The payoff was still more than he could have imagined when he baked his first pizza in 1961 in Ypsilanti, Michigan. Most importantly, Domino’s Pizza will probably still be slinging pizza long after many of today’s “unicorns” are long gone.