This story originally appeared in Model D.
Happy's Pizza is one of those pizza brands synonymous with Detroit not because it has a flagship headquarters downtown or because it can be easily found at Tigers games but because its franchises can be found in neighborhoods across the city.
The 15-year-old business got its start when Happy Asker (then 18-years-old) opened his first pizzeria in northeast Detroit. Today there are a dozen franchises in Detroit in every corner of the city. The company and its yellow, round, smiling mascot has achieved a high level of visibility with Detroiters despite the closest thing to a downtown flagship store is in New Center. Happy's Pizza is opening a couple dozen new franchises each year and it just opened its 100th franchise at Seven Mile Road and Van Dyke Avenue, not far from its first store.
"We want to make sure our centennial went in the community we got our start in," says Christina Rice, vice president of franchise development for Happy's Pizza. "We wanted to make sure it was in Detroit."
Each franchise employs about 15-30 people depending on the size of its delivery staff. That adds up to an employee base between 180-360 people in Detroit. Plus, there are another 50 employees at the company's corporate headquarters in Farmington Hills.
Happy's Pizza franchises are mainly concentrated in Michigan, which has 60 stores. There are also franchises in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, California and Nevada. The company has been adding between 20-30 franchises each year since 2008 and expects to keep that pace up as it looks to become a national household name in pizza.
Source: Christina Rice, vice president of franchise development for Happy's Pizza
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