Metro Detroit is known as the home to some of the titans of the pizza industry. Does the region have one more pizzeria powerbroker ready to step up? The people building Happy's Pizza think so.
The Farmington Hills-based company just opened its 100th franchise in Detroit this month. It is adding 20-30 franchises annually and has pizzerias across the country in states like California, Nevada, Indiana, Ohio and Illinois. The bulk of the company's franchises are in Michigan, which has 60.
"In 2008, we started to grow at a trajectory of 30 stores a year," says Christina Rice, vice president of franchise development for Happy's Pizza. "I have seven stores under construction right now. We have 20-30 set to come online this year."
Happy's Pizza got its start in 1996 when Happy Asker opened his first location in northeast Detroit. The then 18-year-old, who is still the CEO, spent the first part of his adult life building the business to 30 franchises across Michigan while still maintaining a growing presence in the city of Detroit. The firm now has a dozen franchises in all corners of the Motor City and made the decision to open the 100th location in the city that launched it.
Each Happy's Pizza employs 15-30 people, depending on the size of the delivery fleet. The company also has a staff of 50 employees in Farmington Hills, after hiring half a dozen more in 2012. In all, the company has created in the area of 700 new jobs over the last year.
Source: Christina Rice, vice president of franchise development for Happy's Pizza
Writer: Jon Zemke
Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.