Shakey’s Pizza Parlor
This Sacramento-based pizza franchise has the unusual distinction of being featured in the American Banjo Museum’s Hall of Fame.
In April 1954, Sherwood “Shakey” Johnson and partner Ed Plummer opened a new concept, then called Shakey’s Pizza Parlor & Ye Public House, in Sacramento, California. Johnson, a jazz enthusiast, filled his parlor with music, featuring live banjo players and player pianos (in fact, a replica of the interior of the original Shakey’s appears today in the American Banjo Museum’s Hall of Fame!). The first outpost was so successful that the owners opened another—this time in Portland, Oregon—in 1956, and by the late ’60s, the booming franchise had nearly 300 units.
However, after the late ’80s and ’90s, the franchise needed a breath of life. Excited by stats that showed a 98% brand recall for Shakey’s, The Jacmar Companies acquired the brand in 2004 and worked to re-energize its image, adding new menu items and initiating remodeling efforts. The latest Shakey’s prototype pays homage to its banjo-strumming past while offering high-tech touches: The décor incorporates nostalgic graphics alongside a digital menu system, and Shakey’s appeals to both kids and adults with game rooms for the young (and young at heart) and large flat-screen televisions for sports fans.
Of course, entertaining families and becoming involved with local communities has always been a cornerstone of success for the company—and that has not changed over the decades. “We’ve carved out a niche as a family fast-casual restaurant,” notes Cindy Staats, director of marketing for Shakey’s USA. “But at the end of the day, Shakey’s is an experience—a place where people gather to share good times together.” —Tracy Morin