Pizza Operators Salute Small Business Saturday: Buy Local, Eat Local

Washington, D.C. – November 23, 2016 – Pizza store owners around the country will share their support with local small businesses on Saturday, November 26th to celebrate Small Business Saturday™ and encourage everyone to “buy local, eat local.”  With 54 percent of the 73,000 pizzerias in the U.S. independently-owned, there is no industry more reflective of small business than the pizza industry.

“Our industry is proud of its entrepreneurial spirit and the opportunity it offers for anyone to own their own business.  In fact, thousands of pizza shop owners started out as hourly employees,” said Tim McIntyre, Chair of the American Pizza Community (APC), a coalition of pizza store owners, operators and vendors that make up the American pizza industry. 

 On November 26th, the Saturday following Thanksgiving, small businesses everywhere anticipate increased consumer spending in local communities as many Americans use their time off to get some early holiday shopping done. On Small Business Saturday last year, approximately 95 million people shopped at small businesses and spent $16.2 billion at those establishments, according to American Express. For pizza store owners, this means stopping at your neighborhood pizzeria for a slice of your favorite pie! 

The APC thanks its fellow pizza comrades for their role as business owners in communities everywhere as part of Small Business Saturday™.  Several examples of pizza store owners who started as employees include:

  • John Addis, owner of 11 Pizza Hut stores in Illinois, began his career as a team member of the Kewanee Pizza Hut store in high school.
  • Betsy Clemenson, owner of Pizza Factory in Moreno Valley, California, started out as an assistant manager to help out the family who owned the local Pizza Factory and 12 years later became the owner of her own franchise.
  • Jose Cuesta, owner of 3 Domino’s in Los Angeles and Orange County, California, started as a delivery driver in 1996 upon moving to the United State from his native Mexico.  Pursuing the “American Dream” and following his parent’s example of hard work, he worked his way up over the next decade to eventually becoming regional director.  In 2007, he was given the opportunity to purchase a Domino’s franchise in 2007 and now owns three stores.
  • Richard Cunningham, owner of 6 Domino’s stores in Texas, began his path to ownership truly from the ground up.  In 1998, he worked part-time as a delivery driver while taking college classes.  By 2000, he enrolled in Domino’s management training courses and worked his way from assistant manager to owning six Domino’s locations with his wife.
  • Ken Denfeld, owner of 5 Godfather’s Pizza restaurants in the Portland, Oregon area, started as an aircraft commander in the US Air Force. After leaving the military, Ken was hired as the Godfather’s Pizza corporate pilot and for additional company roles. Within a year, Ken purchased the original restaurant and developed more stores in Nebraska, Iowa, Nevada and Oregon. Ken has been with the Godfather’s Pizza family for 41 years.
  • Eric Fairbanks, owner of 9 Hungry Howie’s in Charlotte Metro Area, North Carolina, began his love for the pizza industry business after working at a local store throughout college.  Ten years later, he is on his way to owning his tenth Hungry Howie’s franchise.
  • Bre Hawkins, owner of Pizza Factory in Temecula, California, started out as a part-time counter worker in high school sixteen years ago at a Pizza Factory in Washington before becoming an employee of her current store in California.
  • Amy Kesecker, owner of Figaro’s Pizza in Philomath, Oregon, began working at the pizza store in high school 17 years ago and became an owner of the same store 10 years ago.
  • Bob Leikam, owner of a Domino’s Pizza store in Taft, California, knew he wanted to become a franchise owner after working as a delivery driver during college in Texas.  He quickly became a rising star, opening several stores for a multi-store franchise owner.  In 1985, he bought the Domino’s store in Taft where he and his wife settled down and raised two children in the small town of 16,000.  They are active members of the community where they often host celebratory occasions and give back to area charities.
  • John Leskovisek, owner of 5 Godfather’s Pizza restaurants in central Illinois, began in the convenience store industry as a clerk and later moved on as a manager, operations director and VP of Food Services for a Godfather’s Pizza franchise company.  John fell in love with the food industry, decided it was time to work for himself and opened his first store 18 years ago.
  • Brad Price, owner of 15 Godfather’s Pizza restaurants in Iowa and Minnesota, started working at a local Godfather's Pizza while still in high school as an hourly employee.  After graduating, Brad worked his way up through management before buying into the local franchise.  Thirty-nine years later, he owns 100 percent of the company with 15 Godfather's Pizza restaurants.
  • Zac Webster, owner of Pizza Schmizza Pub & Grub in Portland, Oregon, began his career working at the original Pizza Schmizza Pub & Grub restaurant at 15 years old, and was managing one by the time he was 17. After several stints managing other fast casual restaurants, he purchased his own Pizza Schmizza Pub & Grub franchise. 


Small Business Saturday™ began in 2010 when American Express encouraged consumers to “shop small” on the day after Black Friday. In the last four years, individuals and local organizations have pledged their support and joined the effort as campions.  Last year, an estimated $14.3 billion was spent at small independent businesses on the day.  #ShopSmall

About The American Pizza Community

The American Pizza Community is a coalition of the nation’s large and small pizza companies, operators, franchisees, vendors, suppliers and other entities that make up the American pizza industry.  The coalition was formed in 2010 to advocate for policies affecting pizza companies and operators including menu and labeling information, fair wages, work opportunity tax credit, background checks, tax policies and small business access to capital.

Current members include Blackjack Pizza, Breadeaux Pizza, California Pizza Kitchen, CiCi's Pizza, Domino’s Pizza, Figaro’s Italian Pizza, Godfather’s Pizza, Hungry Howie’s, Hunt Brothers Pizza, the International Pizza Hut Franchise Holders Association, Little Caesars, Nick-N-Willy’s, Papa John’s Pizza, Papa Murphy’s Pizza, Papa's Pizza To-Go, Papa Romano's Pizza, Pieology, Pizza Factory, Pizza Schmizza, and Sam & Louie's Pizza. Supplier partners include Coca-Cola, Leprino Foods Company, Middleby Marshall, Paradise Tomato Kitchens, PepsiCo and Tyson Foods.  Affiliate partners include the Consortium for Common Food Names, the National Pork Producers Council and the Tomato Products Wellness Council.