Shakey's Pizza

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Shakey's USA, Inc.
Industry Restaurants
Founded Sacramento, California, U.S.
(April 30, 1954; 62 years ago (1954-04-30))
Founders Sherwood Johnson
Ed Plummer
Headquarters Alhambra, California
Products Pizza, sandwiches, pasta, fried chicken, desserts

Shakey's Pizza is a pizza restaurant chain based in the United States. Founded in 1954, it was the first franchise pizza chain in the United States.[1] The chain currently has about 500 stores globally, and about 60 in the United States.


A Shakey's restaurant in the Philippines

Shakey's Pizza was founded in Sacramento, California, on April 30, 1954, by Sherwood "Shakey" Johnson and Ed Plummer. Johnson's nickname resulted from nerve damage following a bout of malaria suffered during World War II. The parlor opened on a weekend, but since the pizza ovens were not yet completed,[2] only beer was served and Shakey took the profits from beer sales and bought ingredients for pizza the following Monday.

Shakey personally played dixieland jazz piano to entertain patrons and hired the original members of the Silver Dollar Jazz Band for $10 per person plus all the beer and pizza they wanted—he soon realized it was cheaper to pay the musicians scale—this brought the music of Lu Watters to the Sacramento area and caused a local sensation. Jazz historian K. O. Eckland gives this band the credit for the jazz revival in Sacramento that extended to the formation of the Sacramento Traditional Jazz Society.[3] Shakey's also became known outside Sacramento, not for its pizza, but for the jazz program it sponsored on a regional radio network. Shakey Johnson is honored in the American Banjo Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, for his longtime use of banjo music at his pizza parlors. Other live music, including piano, was also a staple in the old Shakey's parlors.

The original store (a remodeled grocery store)[2] at 57th and J Streets in Sacramento remained in business until the mid-1990s.


Original Shakey's logo

The second Shakey's Pizza Parlor opened in Beaverton, Oregon, in 1956. Shakey's opened their third parlor in Albany, Oregon, in 1959, which was the first building Shakey's actually owned and the first building to be built in the distinct building style for which Shakey's is known. It now operates as a used bookstore. According to Johnson, Shakey's Pizza engaged in little market research and made most of its decisions on where to locate stores by going where Kinney Shoes opened stores. By the time Johnson sold his interest in 1967, there were 272 Shakey's Pizza Parlors in the United States. The first international store opened in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, in 1968. By 1975, the company had expanded to the Pacific Rim, including Japan and the Philippines.

Sale to Colorado Milling[edit]

Shakey Johnson sold his half of the company for $3 million to Colorado Milling and Elevator in 1967, which acquired Plummer's half for $9 million the next year.

Second sale[edit]

In 1974, Shakey's was sold to Hunt International Resources, famous for their attempt to corner the silver market. Two franchisees bought the chain in 1984 and they sold out to Inno-Pacific Holdings of Singapore in 1989. By that time, the number of franchisees had declined to 221.[4] Most of the remaining U. S. stores closed during the time Inno-Pacific owned the chain. Some of the remaining franchisees took Inno-Pacific to court in 2003.

Before this could come to trial, Shakey's was sold to Jacmar Companies of Alhambra, California, in 2004. Jacmar had been the franchisee of 19 Shakey's restaurants.

At the time Hunt International bought Shakey's in 1974, the restaurant chain had approximately 500 stores throughout the United States, including stores as far east as Colonie, New York and Westbrook, Maine.

As of July 2016, there are 51 Shakey's Pizza restaurants in the U.S. 47 U.S. locations are in California (all but Oroville in Southern California), and the remainder are located in Auburn, Alabama; Waipahu, Hawaii; and two Washington locations in Renton & Pasco.[5] There is one location in the Greater Mexico City metro area.


The brand became a well-established franchise in the Philippines,[6] where it began in 1975 under the ownership of the country's largest food conglomerate, San Miguel Corporation, primarily promoting their San Miguel draft beer. Beginning with a restaurant on Makati Avenue in Makati, the brand expanded rapidly in Metro Manila, with most of the restaurants offering live music. San Miguel had difficulty maintaining the consistency of the branches, and ultimately sold the franchise in 1987 to International Family Food Services Inc., a group led by sports executive Leo Prieto. By 1997, the brand had evolved into mostly a fast-food franchise. In 2003, the company began a "reengineering" of the brand as a family-oriented casual dining brand. In 2004, Shakey's partnered with Sports Vision for the launch of the Shakey's V-League, one of the pioneering volleyball leagues in the country.[7]

As of early 2015, there were 153 Shakey's outlets in the Philippines, more than double the number remaining than the United States.[8][9]

In March 2016, a new group formed by the Century Pacific Group and the Singapore-based GIC Private Limited acquired the majority shares of International Family Food Services, Inc. from the Prieto family, which will keep their minority shares in the company.[10][11]

In popular culture[edit]

In the opening scene of Wayne's World, Benjamin and his girlfriend are seen enjoying Shakey's pizza in their bedroom.

In the ABC sitcom Fresh Off the Boat set in Orlando during the 1990s, the youth basketball team considers quitting a game at half time, enticed with a map to "the nearest Shakey's".

The lyrics of "Old Timer", the first single from That Dog's self-titled debut album released in 1993, are a character sketch of an old man drinking wine alone at Shakey's. In the CD's liner notes, singer Anna Waronker explains that the song was based on an actual man she saw at a nearby table while attending a family friend's 8th birthday party at a West L.A. location of the chain.

The franchise is featured in the film License to Drive (1988) starring Corey Haim and Corey Feldman.[citation needed]

In a season five episode of South Park entitled "Kenny Dies", Cartman uses human stem cells to clone a Shakey's restaurant.[12]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Shakey's", in The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America (Oxford University Press, 2013), ISBN 978-0199734962, p. 245. Excerpts available at Google Books.
  2. ^ a b Shakey's Philippines - About Us
  3. ^ Burt Wilson, "Silver Dollar Jazz Band", YouTube posted August 10, 2010.
  4. ^ "Singapore Group Buys Shakey's Inc.". The New York Times. 10 February 1989. Retrieved 30 June 2016. 
  5. ^ "Locations - Shakey's Pizza Parlor". Retrieved 30 June 2016. 
  6. ^ Robert Frank, "When Small Chains Go Abroad, Culture Clashes Require Ingenuity", The Wall Street Journal, April 12, 2000.
  7. ^ Navarro, Dante (November 21, 2015). "Shakey's V-League Turning dormant sport to a sporting spectacle". The Philippine Star. Retrieved March 28, 2016. 
  8. ^ "Shakey’s reengineering: From rock band, fast food joint into family restaurant chain", Philippine Daily Inquirer, September 7, 2013.
  9. ^ "From service crew to CEO", Manila Standard, February 14, 2015.
  10. ^ Gonzales, Iris (March 24, 2016). "Century Pacific, Singapore's GIC gain control of Shakey's Philippines". The Philippine Star. Retrieved March 28, 2016. 
  11. ^ Dela Paz, Charisse (March 23, 2016). "Century Pacific and Singapore's GIC to buy Shakey's Philippines". Rappler. Retrieved March 28, 2016. 
  12. ^ Doyle Greene (2007). Politics and the American Television Comedy: A Critical Survey from I Love Lucy through South Park. McFarland & Company. p. 219. ISBN 978-0-7864-3235-6. 

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