How to modernize a 50-year-old pizza chain

A Deeper Dive: This week’s episode of the RB podcast features Tom Sacco, CEO of the Iowa-based pizza brand Happy Joe’s, on adapting the brand for today’s customers.

How is Happy Joe’s modernizing its brand?

This week’s episode of the Restaurant Business podcast A Deeper Dive features Tom Sacco, the CEO of Happy Joe’s.

The 52-unit, Iowa-based chain has been around for 50 years. It was sold just before the pandemic. Sacco was brought in as CEO after a career with BJ’s, Ponderosa, Red Robin and Ghiradelli.

The pandemic forced the brand to rethink how it does business, and so Sacco talks about how Happy Joe’s modernized its operations coming out of that period. For instance, it didn’t count transactions.

We discuss the 2022 bankruptcy involving the chain’s corporate units and what led to that. And we talk about the brand’s surprising recent growth. We also discuss the chain’s penchant for small towns as well as taco pizzas and pickle pizzas and how Happy Joe’s was an early developer of both.

We’re talking pizza on A Deeper Dive so please check it out.

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