Category Archives: Work

It’s Bigger Than the Pizza

I have the privilege of meeting many interesting people through my job at Donatos Pizza.  We are blessed with great customers who have supported us for over 55 years now and each have their own story to tell.  And as I am continually reminded, many times THEY make a bigger impact on us than they even realize.

Back in June, I first learned about a wonderful lady named Clem Torma, who visits our East Broad Street store almost every other Tuesday to get her favorite food, an individual thin crust sausage pizza.  As fate would have it, that day when Clem came in to get her pizza Donatos founder Jim Grote met her and the two of them took the picture below.

clem

Upon hearing of this chance meeting, I immediately reached out to her family to find out more about her story.  What I learned among many other things is that Clem, who was 102 at the time, had come to America from Italy in a boat at the age of five and landed on Ellis Island.  She worked during World War II as a riveter at Westinghouse in Mansfield.  She has been a widow for nearly half her life and she never had any children.  But boy, has she lived life!  She loved to travel and she was very active in the lives of all her other family members and has taken care of them over the years when they needed it.  We were able to introduce the rest of Central Ohio to Clem and share her story on National Centenarians Day (people who are 100 or older) when WBNS 10TV’s Karina Nova interviewed her in our restaurant that she so frequently visits.

As we parted ways on the day of that interview in September, we promised Clem that we would throw her a pizza party for her 103rd birthday – December 26.  She gladly accepted and I put the date on my calendar as soon as I got back to my desk.

grandmaWhat Clem and her family didn’t realize at the time was that a week before I met her for the first time I had lost my last remaining grandparent.  Grandma Mahaffey and I (pictured celebrating Christmas in 2017) were incredibly close since I was her oldest grandchild and we both loved a lot of the same types of things – sports, good writers and great human interest stories.  Grandma lived to be 96 and had an incredibly full life with so many great memories.  She and Clem would have been great friends had they ever met.  Grandma was also the subject of one of my favorite blog stories that showed me first-hand the power of social media and the amazing kindness of others.

As Christmas approached this year, I began to realize that this would be the first time in my life that I would not get to celebrate Christmas with Grandma. I was extremely blessed to get 46 Christmases with her and I may have watched White Christmas that many times with her.  She loved the holiday season, the music, the lights and most of all the family and friends that she got to spend time with.  This was probably the first time that I truly understood to some degree the feeling of sadness so many deal with around the holidays.

As Christmas came and went, I was eagerly anticipating spending part of Clem’s big day with her.  In talking with her niece, Jan, I knew that there had been some challenging days for Clem since I had seen her last, but the family was really excited to have this celebration.  We showed up with pizza to feed all the residents at the assisted living facility where she lives and boy did Clem’s face light up! (click for video)  She greeted everyone as they entered the dining room and proudly told them that it was her birthday.  She even told me to look around at how many people where there and that we should be able to sell them a lot of pizza.  Good ol’ Clem!  🙂
clem bday2

Karina Nova had also planned to attend the party, but unfortunately needed to anchor the noon news broadcast and could not attend.  So, she did the next best thing and sent Clem this video and then also wished her happy birthday during the broadcast.  Once again, Clem made an impact.  All the residents sang happy birthday to Clem and then enjoyed pizza and cake.  It was great to see the smile not only on Clem’s face, but the smiles on the faces of the other residents and also on the faces of Clem’s family members.
clem bday1

At Donatos, our promise is to serve the best pizza and make YOUR day a little better.  We strive for this every day with every customer.  Sometimes we come up a little short and when we do we try our very best to make it right.  I know that on this day we definitely lived up to our promise.  But you know what is great about having a promise like this?  It actually makes OUR day better too by living it out!  So thank you, Clem, for coming into my life in 2018 just when I needed you and allowing me to play just a small part in one chapter of your great story.  Thanks to your love of Donatos Pizza you made MY day a whole lot better!  Happy birthday!
clem bday3

 

 

Donatos…Chapter Three

It’s hard to believe that Friday wrapped up my third year already of working for Donatos at the home office.  And, this year was definitely one that put the emphasis on the field in my title of Field Marketing Manager.

15826606_911900618340_5840111115323467727_n
You know you travel a lot when you show up on the airport digital board

When the year began for me, we as a brand were just launching our newest store in midtown Nashville.  This was my first new store opening process and it was great to be in on the ground level from day one in this fun city.  I ended up making numerous visits to check on this store over the year to the point that the great staff at the Courtyard by Marriott Vanderbilt/West End became like family to me and even had my same room ready for each and every visit.  🙂  Thanks, ZsuZsa, Kim, Gary and the rest of the team!  I earned those Marriott Rewards Platinum and Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards A-List statuses.

13668981_550920975098330_6019336125809047661_nAs the Nashville store began to get established and I continued working with all the existing stores and franchise partners, we also made plans for our next new store to open in Summerville, S.C. (left).  It ended up opening at the end of July and let me just say that going around town making business visits is not as much fun when it’s 100 degrees and you are dripping sweat.  Each market presents its own unique opportunities and the town of Summerville is filled with great people we get the chance to meet and share our great food with.  Our franchise partners there are a joy to work with and are out spreading the word about Donatos each and every day.

As the fall approached, it was time to figure out how to gain the business of college students as they came back to school in our markets with stores by universities.  One whirlwind day that seems typical of the year had me helping serve pizza to the 7,700 incoming freshmen at The Ohio State University inside Ohio Stadium (below) at lunch time and then flying to Nashville to feed over 1,000 incoming freshmen at Belmont University that evening.  Fun times!

13892039_10153855206063231_1810414739513130735_n

For the second straight year, I also had the privilege of running the Donatos summer-long 13-week contest that saw one of our guests win $1,000 each week and also pick a charity to receive $1,000.  It was such a privilege to hear the great stories of our guests as to why they picked the charity that they did and also to connect with these great organizations who are doing so much to benefit others.  I am extremely grateful to work for a company that believes in giving back.

15181409_899428732100_6878900101300720543_n

One other moment of giving to others that was a highlight of my year was getting to attend the Ohio State-Michigan game with three families (above) who had been touched by pediatric cancer.  It was great to be able to let them have this experience and boy did the game turn out pretty exciting with a double overtime win by the Buckeyes that included all of us on the field afterwards.

Two other highlights of the year for me was getting stories of our associates told on local TV stations in both the Nashville and Virginia Beach markets.  The story of Barbie Henry, one of our first hires in Nashville, aired in July and the story of Diego Roma from our Newport News, Va. store aired in November.

As the end of the fiscal year approached, I visited each of my franchise partners over the course of about seven weeks to begin making plans for the 2017 year.  While all this travel could get cumbersome, I try to make the most of it by finding great running routes and making new friends in all the cities that I visit.  I managed to get sunrise or sunset pictures in 9 different states this year while also running in such beautiful places as Lexington, Ky., Newport News, Va., Charleston, S.C., Charlotte, N.C., Nashville and Seabrook Island, S.C.  For those who think that it is too hard to exercise while traveling, I beg to differ.  I logged 3,018 miles running during my third year at Donatos and ran both the Boston Marathon and the Chicago Marathon while also doing four half marathons including lowering my PR three times!

The final two months of my third year at Donatos have been spent focusing heavily on the opening of our newest store in Owensboro, Ky. (below).  I knew from the start that these guys were going to be fun as they were heavily connected in their community and really understood the importance of relationships in selling pizza.  Well, they have been open for one month now and that town has just embraced the store, our product and the partners to the tune of the best first month of any store in company history!

16178572_387664594931699_3474985228556915267_o

It seems fitting that in a year that saw me spend 70 nights in hotels while traveling that I wrapped it up in South Carolina working out the delivery area for a store in Boiling Springs that will open in a few months.  It should be an exciting year for Donatos with that store and two others (Bowling Green, Ky. and Murfreesboro, Tenn.) opening in the next couple of months along with possibly others as the year moves along.

As I put the wraps on my third year at Donatos, I have to say that it was my most challenging but also my most rewarding year yet.  It can be stressful at times trying to figure out exactly what works in each new market and also balancing life on the road while also having a personal life outside of work.  However, I feel like I grew more professionally and personally this year than ever before and I can’t wait to attack the challenges and new opportunities ahead in year number four.  #PizzawithPassion