Godfather's Pizza

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Godfather's Pizza
IndustryFast Food
Founded1973; 49 years ago (1973)
Headquarters2808 North 108th Street
Omaha, Nebraska 68164
Number of locations
445 (2021)
Key people
Ronald B. Gartlan (CEO)
Herman Cain (former CEO)
RevenueUS$980 million (2021)
Number of employees
4,500 (2021)

Godfather's Pizza is an American 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", whose likeness is a parody of Don Fanucci, from the 1974 film The Godfather Part II, though some sources compare the role to that of Don Vito Corleone of 1972's The Godfather.[13] "The Godfather" has been played by two Omaha actors, the first being J. William Koll,[14] who typically wore a white fedora hat, a pin stripe suit, and a flower on his jacket. Dale O'Brien has been the Godfather's Pizza spokesman since about 2000.[15][16]

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. ^ Clark, Joshua (June 13, 2014). "'The Godfather' visits Branson". Branson Tri-Lake News. Branson, Missouri. Retrieved April 9, 2021.
  14. ^ "'Godfather' Returns As Spokesman For Pizza Company". Toledo Blade. Associated Press. November 14, 1983. Retrieved November 14, 2011.
  15. ^ Oechslin, Russ (September 12, 2004). "Pizza spokesman makes appearance at Clay County Fair". Sioux City Journal. Retrieved August 3, 2020.
  16. ^ "Godfather's Pizza Celebrates 1 Year with Special Appearance of 'The Godfather'". Strictly Business. March 1, 2019. Retrieved August 3, 2020.

External links[edit]