Godfather's Pizza

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Godfather's Pizza
IndustryFast Food
Founded1973; 47 years ago (1973)
Headquarters2808 North 108th Street
Omaha, Nebraska 68164
Key people
Ronald B. Gartlan (CEO)
Herman Cain (former CEO)

Godfather's Pizza is a privately owned restaurant chain headquartered in Omaha, Nebraska, that operates fast casual Italian franchises and Pizza Express locations.[1]


Godfather's Pizza was founded in Omaha, Nebraska, in 1973.[2] Willy Theisen bought out the pizza parlor and the name in 1974 from Gregg Johnson (who later started the Minsky's Pizza restaurants), and sold his first franchise.[3] Theisen sold the company to Pillsbury in 1985 and stepped down from actively managing the company.[4] In 1986, Pillsbury named Herman Cain CEO and president of the brand. Cain and Ronald B. Gartlan, the company's executive vice president, led a group to purchase the Godfather's brand from Pillsbury, which they did by the beginning of 1990 in a leveraged buyout[5] for what was reported to be $100 million. It was reported to be the fifth largest pizza chain in the United States at the time, down from third place in 1985.[5][6] About this time, many Godfather's locations in the St. Louis area were bought out by Pantera's Pizza.[7] Under Cain's leadership, Godfather's closed approximately 200 restaurants and eliminated several thousand jobs, and by doing so returned to profitability.[8] Cain stepped down from his position as CEO and president in 1996 and Gartlan became CEO. Cain stayed on as chairman until 2002. In 2009 Gartlan bought out Cain.[9] According to the company's official website, as of August 2016, the chain had 453 locations in the U.S.[10] Godfather's Pizza also operates in some Speedway locations, as well as most Minit Mart locations in Kentucky and northern Tennessee, as of 2007.[11]


The restaurants serve a wide variety of pizzas, breadsticks, chips, cookies, and pastas, and have an extensive salad bar and buffet. They offer four different types of crust: Original, Golden, Mozza-Loaded, and Thin. By January 2010, the chain introduced gluten-free pizzas, made from rice flour.[12]


Godfather's Pizza is known for its commercials featuring "The Godfather", a parody of Marlon Brando's character, Don Vito Corleone, from the 1972 film The Godfather. "The Godfather" has been played by two actors, the first being Omaha actor J. William Koll,[13] who typically wore a white fedora hat, a pin stripe suit, and a flower on his jacket. Dale O'Brien, also an Omaha actor, has been the Godfather's Pizza spokesman since about 2000.[14][15]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Nutritional information". Godfather's Pizza. Retrieved August 3, 2020.
  2. ^ Berg, Eric N. (September 20, 1988). "Godfather's Pizza Sold By Pillsbury". The New York Times.
  3. ^ "Godfather's Pizza Finds Home at Chart House". The New York Times. September 15, 1983.
  4. ^ "Pillsbury Keeping Godfather's Pizza". The New York Times. August 20, 1985. Retrieved November 28, 2019.
  5. ^ a b Berg, Eric (September 20, 1988). "Godfather's Pizza Sold By Pillsbury". The New York Times. Retrieved December 19, 2011.
  6. ^ "Godfather's Pizza Incorporated - Company History". Fundinguniverse.com. Retrieved November 15, 2011.
  7. ^ Maddox, Teri (December 31, 2015). "Pantera's in Edwardsville still serving The Hunk". Belleville News-Democrat. Illinois. Archived from the original on March 14, 2016. Retrieved August 3, 2020.
  8. ^ Jordon, Steve (October 11, 2011). "Cain: The Godfather's years". Omaha World-Herald. Archived from the original on October 13, 2011.
  9. ^ Bashman, Janice Gable. "Profile – Godfather's Pizza" (PDF). Food&Drink Quarterly. pp. 138–143. Retrieved August 3, 2020 – via janicegablebashman.com.
  10. ^ "Store locator". Godfather's Pizza. Archived from the original on August 11, 2016.
  11. ^ "Minit Mart". Minit Mart. Archived from the original on February 24, 2007. Retrieved February 24, 2007.
  12. ^ "Godfather's Gluten-Free Pizzas". Godfather's Pizza. Archived from the original on January 3, 2010.
  13. ^ "'Godfather' Returns As Spokesman For Pizza Company". Toledo Blade. Associated Press. November 14, 1983. Retrieved November 14, 2011.
  14. ^ Oechslin, Russ (September 12, 2004). "Pizza spokesman makes appearance at Clay County Fair". Sioux City Journal. Retrieved August 3, 2020.
  15. ^ "Godfather's Pizza Celebrates 1 Year with Special Appearance of 'The Godfather'". Strictly Business. March 1, 2019. Retrieved August 3, 2020.

External links[edit]