We Are a Legacy Brand with a Great Story to Tell.

Donatos Founded

Donatos was founded by 19-year-old Columbus, Ohio native Jim Grote who borrowed $1,300 and had a vision for a company that put customers first.

Original Donatos Location

Commissary Kitchen Opened

The centralized kitchen opened with the goal of having a consistent product at every Donatos location.

Donatos First Franchise Location; Dough Innovation Center Opens

Donatos opened its first franchised location in Zanesville, Ohio. The same year, Donatos built its proprietary, world-class Dough Innovation Center to further ensure product consistency.

Acquired by McDonald’s

Impressed by the brand, McDonald’s acquired Donatos and sought to expand the brand nationwide.
Acquired by McDonald's

Re-acquired by Founders

Donatos was re-acquired by Jim Grote and Jane Grote Abell so the business could grow on the values and culture it was founded.

Undercover Boss

Donatos celebrated 50 years in business with Jane Grote Abell’s appearance on season 5 of Undercover Boss. To watch the full episode, start a free trial or log in to CBS All Access »

The Missing Piece

Jane Grote Abell’s book The Missing Piece: Doing Business the Donatos Way was published. It tells the story of a classic American family business, and key learnings from her four decades of experience growing Donatos into the franchise it is today.

Continued Growth

154 Donatos restaurants are open, and we’re looking for multi-unit operators to help us bring the brand to more cities.

We Deliver on our Promise to You, Your Associates and Your Community. 

Donatos is a family-owned, privately held company that treats our Franchise Partners like they are part of the family. Our mission is to promote goodwill through our products and service, principles and people. The home office team and Franchise Partners are active in the communities that they serve and beyond just providing jobs, we strive to offer mentoring and growth opportunities for the people who work for us. Our 75% associate retention rate is a testament to our efforts. Our Founder Jim Grote’s daughter, Jane Grote Abell, brings her dad’s philosophy to life by promoting goodwill in the communities Donatos serves. The Donatos Family Promise Fund helps associates in need of financial support.

“I initiated a Donatos Pizza exhibit at our local Children’s Museum and the Home Office Team supported me all the way.”

Christina Vogel
Multi-Unit Franchise Partner

“I started at Donatos when I was 15 years old. Now I give young kids those same opportunities when I hire them. Over the years, they come back to the restaurant and they’re all grown up and have families. And they thank me.”

Brian Crumley
Multi-Unit Franchise Partner

We Have a Deep Commitment to the Environment, Too.

The Donatos promise to give back to the community extends to our sustainability efforts, which include:

  • With the purchase of a new shrink-wrap machine, Donatos is saving 125,000 pounds of plastic from going into landfills.
  • Excess dough remnants from the bakery are not discarded to landfills, but instead provided to poultry and hog farmers as supplemental feed.
  • Our FSI-certified pizza boxes are made from 100% natural fiber, and our napkins are 100% FSC certified.
  • Donatos uses 100% compostable bowls and lids for salads and appetizers.

For example, just by ordering more sustainably packaged ingredients:

Our Leadership Team Shares to A Deep Commitment to Our Franchise Partners’ Success.

Jane Grote Abell - Chairwoman of the Board, Founding Family Member, & Chief People Officer

Jane is a founding family member of Donatos Pizza, and over the last four decades, Jane has held a variety of positions with the brand. She was a major catalyst behind the decision to purchase Donatos back from McDonald’s and assisted with the expansion of the company since the purchase was made. Jane is also a strong community leader, is involved with many charities and social services in the Columbus area, and authored The Missing Piece: Doing Business the Donatos Way.

FAVORITE MENU ITEM: Edge to Edge® Pepperoni Pizza with Tomatoes and Ranch Dressing

Tom Krouse - President & CEO

Tom has been a part of the Donatos family since 2000, serving in various leadership roles. In October 2010, Krouse was named President and CEO, to become only the fourth CEO in the company’s history. With more than 20 years in the restaurant industry, he oversees the company’s restaurant division as well as the consumer products division of Donatos.

FAVORITE MENU ITEM: Edge to Edge® Pepperoni Pizza

Doug Kourie - CFO

Like many at Donatos, Doug was a brand fan first, back in his high school days. He later worked for Donatos as their auditor and eventually joined the Donatos Executive Team. Today he brings more than 30 years of experience in the restaurant industry to his role as CFO.

FAVORITE MENU ITEM: Pepperoni and Sausage Pizza

Kevin Myers - CMIO

In today’s world marketing, technology and innovation are more integrated than ever. Kevin leads our charge to fuse marketing and technology, and drive the innovation that will keep Donatos competitive for years to come.


Jeff Baldwin - CCIM, VP of Development and Franchising

Jeff oversees all aspects of franchising and real estate development. He has been instrumental in the growth of Donatos in the Midwest and Southeast and played a key role in the redesign and rebranding of Donatos.

FAVORITE MENU ITEM: Founders Favorite® Pizza

Amos Durbin - VP, Franchise Operations

With extensive experience improving operations for hundreds of restaurants under brands like dineEquity (IHOP) and Red Robin, Amos now works with Donatos Franchise Partners to help ensure their businesses are running smoothly and successfully.

FAVORITE MENU ITEM: Founder’s Favorite®

Tim Young - Director of New Store Success

Tim’s career has spanned over 35 years in the restaurant industry. In his role as Director of New Store Success at Donatos, he helps our Franchise Partners successfully open their new restaurants and helps create operational efficiencies for our 100+ franchised restaurants. Tim has a passion for people development and is actively involved in various mentoring programs.

FAVORITE MENU ITEM: Founder’s Favorite® Pizza with Onions

Carolyn Butler - Executive Director of Brand Marketing

Carolyn is the keeper and nurturer of the Donatos brand, and works to implement Donatos compelling brand strategy across all channels. With more than 30 years in restaurant marketing, Carolyn’s broad experience ranges from quick service and fast casual, to casual dining and fine dining.