The History Of Dominos Pizza

Tom Monaghan, the founder of Domino's Pizza

Tom Monaghan, the founder of Domino's Pizza,
in his first restaurant somewhere in the 1960s.
Photo credit Maproom Systems, Brett Schutzman

Dominos Pizza is the second largest franchised pizza chain in the U.S.A., and the history of Dominos Pizza is similar to its rival Pizza hut; two brothers started it with borrowed equity in the sixties. Tom and James Monaghan bought a small Michigan Pizzeria called Dominick's, which was jointly run by them until James traded his share for a second hand car. Tom revitalized the image by changing the name to Dominos Pizza .

By the late seventies there were over 200 franchise pizza businesses in the States and Dominos Pizza was ready to go International. In 1983 Dominos Pizza opened its doors in Winnipeg, and in the same year opened its one thousandth store. Later that same year Domino's corporate history was to begin in Australia with its first franchise in Brisbane, on the East coast.

The locations for Dominos Pizza grew quickly from here as they sprung up in all sorts of diverse places including Bogotá. Despite Domino's Pizza springing up diverse locations, they were still a very traditional company. Domino's Pizza menu had been kept very simple and streamlined; they only sold one type of pizza crust which they named the regular pizza. Domino's Pizza dough was shaped by tossing the dough and pulling it into shape. The pizza menu included just two sizes of dough, it was not until much later that competition forced them to add a medium and extra large sized pizza. There were no such things as side orders you could have Pizza, pizza or Pizza and you could only drink a Coke with it.

In 1989 the history of Domino's Pizza was to change when the Deep Pan pizza was introduced, for the first time in twenty five years the company was being forced to react to market demand. This move consolidated the financial base and ensured the growth of Domino's Pizza , as the same year they opened their five thousandth store.

The wind of change had started and by 1992 they were to introduce the first non pizza item to their menu, this was obviously a reluctant move as it was bread sticks. Domino Pizza dough was already on hand and the making of bread sticks is not so different.

For many years the company had advertised that if the delivery of their pizzas took longer than thirty minutes then the pizza would be delivered free. This was parodied by the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie which specified the "pizza dude has 30 seconds" to complete the delivery. The turtles pizza was late and they received a refund of $3 for "being two minutes late, dude!" However the benefits to Domino Pizza was enormous as millions of kids were to hear the name of Domino Pizza endorsed on celluloid. In 1993 Domino Pizza discontinued this policy and stated that if a customer was unhappy they could have a new pizza or a refund.

By 1994 Dominos Pizza marketing policy widened as chicken wings were introduced to the menu. At the same time the company hit the African continent as they opened a store in Egypt . By 1996 Dominos Pizza website was launched and the company declared global sales of nearly $3 billion.

Despite their reluctance to add a wider range menu they have as a company given the pizza industry many innovations that have now become standard. The belt driven pizza oven was the invention of Domino Pizza and they began using corrugated cardboard delivery boxes which were very effective at holding the heat within the pizza during the delivery time. Ever mindful of the fact that a cold pizza must be about the worst dining experience on earth Dominos pizza introduced the "Heat Wave," a portable electrical bag system that keeps the pizza hot during delivery.

By 1997 they had also had an internal modern facelift as their stores were all brightened up and the company introduced a new logo. Domino Pizza continued to grow exponentially and in 1997 they opened seven stores in one day but on 5 different continents.

In 2004, Super Bowl Sunday was the most hectic pizza delivery day of the year when Dominos Pizza sold over a million pizzas, which was an increase of 42 percent on their normal Sunday trading volume. As the company continues to grow so rapidly it is just as well the practice of adding a dot onto the logo was discontinued after three outlets as Dominos Pizza now has over seven thousand outlets globally.

Fun Facts

The precise history of the pizza and its origin will never be known, but here is what we know about the Italian pizza history:

  • The Monaghan brothers borrowed $500 with a $75 down payment to take over "Dominick's Pizza". In 1998 Tom Monaghan retired and sold Domino's pizza for nearly 1 billion dollars.
  • In the 80s Domino's ran an advertising campaign featuring The Noid. People better ordered pizza's from Domino's in order to 'avoid the Noid'. In 1989 a guy named Kenneth Lamar Noid held 2 employees of an Atlanta Domino's restaurant hostage because he thought the 'avoid the Noid' ads were a personal attack on him. After 5 hours and forcing his hostages to make pizza for him he surrendered to the police.

The Modern Menu in Dominos Pizza

The standard Dominos Pizza has been adjusted depending on the location; it is designed to reflect the local eclectic taste. Squid is very popular in Japan , whilst the British tend to favor tuna and sweet corn. The dominant flavor in India is Lamb and pickled ginger. Conversely the normally conservative Swiss stray towards Mexico when they visit Dominos Pizza, as they prefer jalapeño peppers to top the pizza. Greece on the other hand is still maintaining a preference for Hellenic tradition with pepperoni, onion, green pepper, fresh tomato, Greek olives, feta cheese and oregano, all standard Mediterranean ingredients.