Donatos Pizza

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Donatos Pizzeria, LLC.
Donatos Pizza
Founded1963 (1963)
FounderJim Grote
Number of locations
200 Stores
Key people
Jane Grote Abell (Chairperson)
Tom Krouse (CEO)
ProductsPizza, subs, salads
ParentMcDonald's (1999-2003)
The original pizza restaurant on Thurman Avenue in Columbus is still one of the busiest and most successful locations.

Donatos Pizza is a pizza delivery restaurant franchisor headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, United States. It has nearly 200 locations in ten states, with the majority of locations in Ohio.[1] Donatos is also served at several venue outlets including Ohio Stadium[2] and the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.[3]


In 1963, Ohio State sophomore Jim Grote purchased the original Donatos located on the south side of Columbus, Ohio, for $1,300. Grote's business principles included: creating a superior product, hiring great people, and to "treat others the way I would like to be treated". These principles led to the creation of the official brand promise To serve the best pizza and make your day a little better.[4]

In 1991, the Donatos Pizza in Zanesville, Ohio, opened as the company's first franchise location. As of 2019, there are about two dozen franchisees operating more than 100 Donatos Pizza locations in ten states: Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia.

In 1999, Donatos was purchased by McDonald's in an attempt to enter the pizza industry.[a] A majority interest in Donatos was repurchased by Jim Grote and daughter Jane Grote Abell in 2003 as McDonald's sought to refocus on its core business.[5] During this period Donatos also had operations in Munich, Germany.[6]

In 2017, Donatos founder Jim Grote led a $1 million seed round in BeeHex, the 3D-food printing company with NASA origins.


Donatos is known for its thin crust pizza "loaded Edge to Edge" with toppings, particularly its large pepperoni pizza that includes 100+ pepperoni slices. In 2009, Donatos launched a hand-tossed pie-cut crust option.[7] In 2004, the company introduced Donatos take and bake pizza in Kroger supermarkets.[8] In 2015, they introduced NatureCrust, a 10” organic, non-GMO, vegan, multi-grain crust, which is now available in a handful of locations. Donatos also offers a variety of oven-baked subs, freshly made salads, chicken wings, shareable sides, and desserts.

Undercover Boss[edit]

In 2013, Donatos was the subject of an episode of the CBS reality television show Undercover Boss. During the episode (Season 5, episode 3, air date October 11, 2013), Jane Grote Abell, the Chairperson of Donatos and daughter of its founder Jim Grote, went undercover posing as a contestant on a reality TV show who was trying to win money to open her own restaurant. During her first assignment at the Donatos store located at Ohio State University (where she had actually attended college during the 1980s), Abell's cover was blown in her first few minutes by the manager of the store who immediately recognized her despite wearing glasses and a brunette wig over her normally blonde hair, though she was able to convince the manager to keep her identity a secret for the purposes of the show.[9]

The Missing Piece[edit]

In 2015, Abell released a book entitled THE MISSING PIECE: Doing Business the Donatos Way, in which she recounts the story of Donatos and offers leadership insights gleaned from her Donatos career.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Although before McDonald's acquired the company, McDonald's had first entered the pizza industry by introducing McDonald's Pizza (which in the 1980s, renamed McPizza) in the late 1970s. But just a year after the company acquired Donatos, McPizza was discontinued due to that it took 11 minutes to cook a pizza, and McDonald's wanted to keep its reputation for fast service. McDonald's had still been in the pizza industry until 2003.


  1. ^ "Donatos Pizza Franchising". Donatos Pizza. Archived from the original on 2011-08-24. Retrieved 2011-07-26.
  2. ^ MacDonald, Sean (2015-09-15). "Ohio Stadium – Ohio State Buckeyes | Stadium Journey". Retrieved 2018-10-25.
  3. ^ "Food Available at the National Air and Space Museum". Archived from the original on 2010-06-08. Retrieved 2010-12-23.
  4. ^ "About Donatos". Retrieved 2011-07-26.
  5. ^ "Jane Grote Abell". Franklin University Leadership Center. 2003-12-15. Retrieved 2007-04-01.
  6. ^ "History of Donatos Pizzeria Corporation – FundingUniverse". Retrieved 2018-10-25.
  7. ^ "Hand Tossed or Edge to Edge?". Greatest City of All. 2003-12-15. Archived from the original on 2011-01-01. Retrieved 2007-04-01.
  8. ^ "Donatos Pizzeria joins take-and-bake fray with Kroger kiosk". Pizza Marketplace. Archived from the original on 2011-09-28. Retrieved 2011-07-26.
  9. ^ Undercover Boss US Season 05 Episode 03 Donatos

External links[edit]