Domino’s Pizza is one of the biggest fast-food businesses in the world today with annual revenue of well over $2.2 billion and outlets across an astonishing 81 countries. But while that sounds like a lot of dough (in every sense of the word) that wasn’t always the case.
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Back in 1961, Domino’s Pizza started life as a single pizza restaurant called DomiNick’s. The owners, brothers Tom and James Monaghan, had only purchased the small restaurant just eight months earlier for a paltry $900 but one of them was having doubts.
James, who was also working full-time as a postman, wasn’t convinced the restaurant business was for him or that things would work out at DomiNicks, which was losing money at the time.
So he decided to make his brother Tom a deal: he would be willing to trade his stake in their pizzeria for the Volkswagen Beetle the brothers used for deliveries.
Tom agreed and for the next few years ran the restaurant effectively, ditching subway sandwiches off the menu and focusing on college campuses – because young people love pizza, period. He also invented a new insulated pizza box that kept the food warmer for longer, like some Leonardo Da Vinci of the pizza technology world.
By the time 1965 rolled around, he was ready to expand the business with a further two restaurants that would operate under the DomiNick name. Unfortunately, the owner of the original restaurant forbade him to use the name DomiNick for the new outlets and so Tom was forced to think up a new name.
It was only when a delivery driver suggested the name Domino’s that the brand was born – the three dots that feature on the company’s logo represent those first three stores. The business expanded from there, via a well-drilled franchising system. By the mid-1980s, it was estimated that three new Domino’s franchises were opening every day. That’s a lot of pizza.
By 1998, Tom Monaghan was ready to retire after 38 years in the pizza business. He sold a 93 per cent stake in Domino’s to Bain Capital Inc. for a whopping $1 billion and ceased his involvement in the day to day running of the company.
Still kicking around age 80, Tom is married – he met his wife Marjorie Zybach while delivering pizza – with four grown-up daughters, 10 grandchildren and one great-grandchild and counting.
James Monaghan and that VW Beetle have been largely off the radar ever since he made that ill-fated deal. Family Christmases must have been seriously awkward.
For a happy Domino’s story, here’s a guy who ate their pizza every day for a year and actually managed to lose weight.