Celebrating Father-Son Duos: Family and Franchising at Donatos Pizza

Since its inception in 1963 by Jim Grote, Donatos Pizza has been synonymous with excellent pizza, a strong community, and family values. Founded on principles such as making the best pizza, hiring great people, and promoting goodwill, these values have permeated through decades, influencing countless families, including those of our franchise partners.

For Father’s Day this year, Donatos Pizza interviewed some father-son franchise partner duos who have built their businesses with a commitment to the brand’s values. Their stories underscore the profound impact of the long-standing culture at Donatos Pizza, shaping not only their businesses but also their family legacies.

Bonding Through Business: Father-Son Duos at Donatos Pizza

Don and Dan Johnson, from Cincinnati, Ohio, have woven their family routines into their business, transforming their shared experiences into a successful franchise operation. Like many, Don was a fan of the product and was impressed with the pizza at Donatos Pizza long before becoming a franchise partner. “The product is so strong, and the system behind it is so great, then your business acumen can take you to the next level. You’re proud of that,” Don states.

Since then, he has retired and his son Dan has been running the show, carrying over the shared values his father and Donatos Pizza pride themselves on. "Growing up, Donatos Pizza was part of our family. Now, it allows us to create our own success while upholding the values we cherish,” Dan reflects. “We have a long-standing team, and I think that comes from the core values of this brand, which impacts how we treat our team members.” Their collaboration is a testament to how family businesses can adapt and thrive, honoring both traditions and contemporary business practices.

Sean and Max Byrne, a duo based in Owensboro, KY, and Evansville, IN, describe their experience as deeply influenced and rooted in the community and the family values promoted by Donatos Pizza. When Sean saw the community-focused approach and met the leadership team, he recognized that they shared the same values as he did and switched from a manufacturing career to franchising.

“We try to embody the same principles and thought processes they do in how we treat people. We are part of such a great culture and I know our community sees that and embraces it,” Sean states. His son Max, who oversees the operations now, emphasizes, "It’s about more than just pizza; it's about creating a community hub where memories are made, and traditions are celebrated."

From Generations to Communities: Expanding the Family Circle

David and Nathan Laslow, another dynamic duo located in Marysville, Ohio, bring a multi-generational approach to their Donatos Pizza franchise. David started his journey in the fast-food industry, opening his first Donatos Pizza in 1994. Following a brief absence from the family business, Nathan returned because Donatos Pizza's values aligned with their family's commitment to giving back to the community. "Our work with needy families during Christmas is an extension of what we do at Donatos Pizza—it's all about community," says Nathan. “Seeing my kids grow and succeed in running this restaurant and get involved in the community, that’s the best thing I can ask for,” David states.

Harold and Joey Simon, another generational duo Akron, Ohio, exemplify the integration of family within the business framework of Donatos Pizza. Harold, who has been with Donatos Pizza since 1996, envisioned the franchise as a family legacy dubbed the "Joey Project," intended to provide his son with a robust career pathway within the company. This vision has brought them closer, with Joey climbing the ranks from manager training to potentially leading their operations in the future.

“The dynamic with Joey brings a fresh perspective, especially with technology and operations, which keeps us innovative and responsive,” Harold shares. “One of the things we are also doing together is volunteer work. Donatos Pizza is giving us the ability to support the local communities and youth groups, which is just hugely important to both of us.”

A Legacy of Love, Leadership, and Pizza

These stories from Donatos Pizza franchises illuminate the profound connections between family values and business success. Each father-son duo brings unique strengths to their operations, yet all share a common commitment to community and quality, embodying Donatos Pizza's founding principles.

As Donatos Pizza continues to grow, the emphasis on family values remains central. The brand celebrates the families, both biological and built within their communities, that drive their success. It’s a reflection of a business model that values relationships as the foundation of success.

Learn how Donatos Pizza can help you create lasting value and make a meaningful impact in your area. Contact the brand today and become part of a franchise system that values strong relationships and community service.

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