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We are a legacy brand with a great story to tell.

The Donatos story is one of pride and success. It’s a story that our Franchise Partners are truly proud to be part of, as it continues to evolve.

We deliver on our promise to you 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.

Multiple images from Donatos Pizza

We’re a legacy brand with a great story to tell.

1963

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.

1974

Commissary Kitchen Opened

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

1991

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.

1999

Acquired by McDonald’s

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

2003

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.

2013

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 »

2015

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.

2019

Continued Growth

More than 160 Donatos restaurants are open, and we’re looking for multi-unit operators to help us bring the brand to more cities.
Brian Crumley
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.
Environmental impact infographic

Our executive team is committed to the success of our Franchise Partners.

Jane Grote Abell

Jane Grote Abell

Executive Chairwoman, Chief People Officer and Founding Family Member

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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: Cauliflower Heat Pizza

Tom Krouse

Tom Krouse

President & CEO

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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

Doug Kourie

CFO

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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

Jeff Baldwin

Jeff Baldwin

CCIM, VP of Development and Franchising

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Jeff has been involved with multiple brands over his 25-year career in real estate development and franchising. He oversees all aspects of real estate and franchising. He has been instrumental in the growth of Donatos in the Midwest and Southeast and led the redesign and rebranding of Donatos.

FAVORITE MENU ITEM: Pepperoni & Mushroom Pizza

Amos Durbin

Amos Durbin

VP, Franchise Operations

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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®

Nikki Stead

Nikki Stead

Vice President, People Services

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Nikki’s career started with Donatos at our Brice Road location when she was just 15 years old.  With a passion for people and operations she moved through many positions including Restaurant General Manager, District Manager and Director of People and Culture.  Nikki is now leading a dynamic People Services Team that is focused on building and supporting a diverse workforce.

FAVORITE MENU ITEM: Chicken Spinach Mozzarella Pizza

Cheryl Bergsman

Cheryl Bergsman

Vice President, Company Operations

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Cheryl’s career started with Donatos as a crew member in Gahanna. With a passion for the restaurant industry and a desire to put her Hospitality degree from The Ohio State University to use, she quickly moved through many positions including General Manager, District Manager and Director of Operations Development. Cheryl is now leading the Company Operations team overseeing 54 locations where she is focused on fostering an environment of learning and growth that creates solid leaders and operations experts.

FAVORITE MENU ITEM: Create Your Own Pizza topped with mushrooms, green peppers and sausage

Carol Pasquariello

Carol Pasquariello

SVP Marketing

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Carol brings to the Donatos family strong marketing experience in the restaurant industry to include Pizza Hut and Auntie Anne’s.  She now leads the marketing team to include menu, brand, PR, and advertising with the main focus to build a marketing strategy that drives strong results.
Cynthia Ottavio

Cynthia Ottavio

Director of Menu Innovation, Chef

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Cynthia studies competitive data and customer feedback to ensure we deliver on flavor and demand. She leads the charge on executing changes to existing menu ingredients and new product roll-outs. With a background as impressive as her palate, she’s worked for brands such as Thornton’s, Wendy’s, ConAgra Foods, and Hardee’s

FAVORITE MENU ITEM: Hot Chicken Pizza

Lenae Hott

Lenae Hott

Senior Coordinator of Menu Innovation, Chef

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By watching trends, Lenae keeps us current on food trends and spearheads production technological advancements. Prior to joining the team, she built up impressive experience as a chef, sous chef, kitchen manager, catering and purchasing manager and overall restaurant Renaissance woman.

FAVORITE MENU ITEM: Hot Chicken Pizza

Donatos is hotter than ever. Now’s the time to join our family.

To learn more about what it takes to be a Franchise Partner, just fill out the form below. Our Franchise Development Team will get back to you soon.

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