At Donatos, we believe that “Every Piece is Important.” This thought extends far beyond the quality of our delicious pizza; it’s a brand purpose that was born from how we treat everyone within the Donatos family and our communities at large. It means a lot to us as a brand that considers itself family. That is why we were so excited when a pair of Franchise Partners decided to create an experiential mural on the outside wall of their restaurant, a display that celebrates inclusivity and diversity.
Recently, Columbus, Ohio’s own Fox 28 ran this segment explaining the impactful piece that Franchise Partners Curtis Jewell and Robert E. Lee III commissioned, and we couldn’t be more pleased or proud!
So, who are these guys and what motivated them to become a piece of the Donatos family?
Many years before becoming a Donatos Pizza Franchise Partner, Curtis Jewell’s entrepreneurial career had already taken flight. And by many years before, we mean many. In fact, Curtis’s first venture into entrepreneurship began at the age of 7. From that point on, Curtis built many successful businesses and established himself as an influential and inspiring member of his community. He even began mentoring other young African American business professionals. One of his protégés was a young man named Robert E. Lee, III.
Robert reached out to Curtis to get his thoughts on opening a Donatos Pizza Franchise in the John Glenn Airport. “I have known the owners of Donatos for years, and I know that they are a real team, a family. The c-suite is very accessible. It doesn’t feel like a huge corporation,” Curtis said. As Robert questioned moving forward with his partners, Curtis decided to do more than offer advice. He partnered with Robert and funded the entire project. The plan was that Curtis would handle the behind-the-scenes work while Robert ran the day-to-day business.
Once they started building out the restaurant in the John Glenn Columbus International Airport’s Concourse C, they saw an opportunity to do more than expected. They saw an opportunity to tell the Donatos brand story in a way that could impact others and really drive home the bigger meaning of inclusivity and diversity.
Curtis and Robert saw a blank wall in this heavy traffic area as a chance to make something special, but they weren’t quite sure what it should be. So, they enlisted Alison Westrick, Design Principal and Founder of Sketch Blue Brand Identity + Retail Design. Alison heard what they wanted to accomplish with the wall and had the idea to commission 29 local artists and one photographer, from all different backgrounds, to create a portrait of a person that held a special place in their life. Eighty-eight pieces of original art were submitted.
The mural ended up being filled with men and women of all different races, religions, ages, backgrounds, and more. When Curtis saw the mural, he knew it was right. “This was a fantastic way to share how diverse Columbus, Ohio, truly is. After all, this is the John Glenn airport. I knew John Glenn—I knew his heart—he was a true statesman, and he would be so proud of this mural and what it symbolizes. It’s monumental and could be a movement,” Curtis said. We spoke with Jeff Baldwin, VP of Development and Franchising at Donatos Pizza, who agrees that the mural is truly inspiring and reflects the brand’s message. “Big thank you to our Franchise Partners Curtis Jewell and Robert E. Lee, III for doing this as part of their new store,” Jeff said.
So, what plans do these two visionary Franchise Partners have planned for their future with Donatos? Well, they already opened another Donatos Pizza in the airport… See you there!