Iconic Midwestern pizza brand’s first Black ownership group signs agreement to develop DFW area
Davenport, IA (RestaurantNews.com) Rickey McBride, Bryan Shorter and the rest of their crew can’t ever stop talking about the good times they had at Happy Joe’s Pizza & Ice Cream growing up in the Quad Cities of Illinois and Iowa. So, when the time came to invest in a brand, McBride knew which one he wanted, who he wanted to partner with and where he wanted to put it.
McBride and his ownership group, HJ SMS OpCo, LLC, which includes Shorter and other childhood friends, will spearhead the arrival of multiple Happy Joe’s into Texas later this year and years to come. Making the move even more significant is that HJ SMS OpCo is a Black-owned business group – the first minority franchisees in the over 50-year history of Happy Joe’s!
“This is a huge moment for us as an organization because we are diversifying as we continue to expand,” said Happy Joe’s CEO and Chief Happiness Officer Tom Sacco. “We are passionate about making great pizza and creating countless memories for everyone that comes into a Happy Joe’s. Having more minority, veteran, and female-owned franchisees allows us to gain greater perspective on those core ideals as our footprint continues to grow. Ultimately, we want to reflect our guests across this great country that we call home.”
As a Davenport Central High alum, McBride proudly claims the Quad Cities and looks back fondly on the birthday parties, team celebrations and overall fun nights spent eating pizza and playing games with friends at Happy Joe’s. He moved on to attend Georgia Southern University and dabbled in semi-pro football leagues across the south before settling in Atlanta and becoming a successful business entrepreneur.
McBride is one of the nation’s largest suppliers of sea moss and owns a health food shop in Duluth, Georgia. The healthy option of Cauliflower crust pizza at Happy Joe’s was a contributor to the reasons he and his partners decided on bringing the iconic Midwestern brand into the southern US.
“There are lots of places you can get pizza, but there’s only one place that gives you a unique pizza experience like Happy Joe’s,” said McBride. “The brand is extremely creative with their offerings and they have a wide variety of pizzas for every discriminating palate. Happy Joe’s knows how to treat people right and they constantly come up with different options to bring in new guests.”
McBride has family in Texas and the rest of the group has friends in Dallas-Fort Worth, making the entry into the market an easy decision. Texas is a minority majority population state that has several cities with large pockets of successful minority neighborhoods helping hook McBride and his team on bringing Happy Joe’s to the Lone Star State.
“Being Happy Joe’s first minority-owned franchise group is huge, but it’s equally important for us to be in these areas where families and kids like ours can come in and have the same experiences we did growing up,” McBride said. “My daughter has food allergies, but there’s lots of things on the menu at Happy Joe’s that she can eat and still have fun, playing with her friends – and we can stay in our neighborhoods to do it. That’s what I’m talking about!”
The group’s goal is to open the state’s first Happy Joe’s in the southern Dallas suburbs of Grand Prairie or Cedar Hill, before the end of the year. If they are unable to find a great location in either of those areas, the focus will then shift west to nearby Arlington – the second-largest city in Tarrant County – with their next location anchored nearby. All three of the targeted areas have minority populations that are 40% or higher.
“We are thrilled to present our first Black-owned franchise group in February as a tribute to Black History Month as Happy Joe’s continues to expand its ‘Happy Places’ and iconic pizza offerings across the southern US.” said Sacco.
About Happy Joe’s Pizza & Ice Cream
Founded in 1972 by Joe Whitty in Davenport, Iowa, Happy Joe’s dream was to create a restaurant concept that focused on serving America’s two favorite foods – pizza and ice cream – in a family-friendly, celebratory environment. Owned and operated by Dynamic Restaurant Holdings Inc., Happy Joe’s has been named a Pizza Marketplace “Top 100 Brands to Watch,” a FastCasual “Top 200” concept, a Franchise Times “Top 400” business, and a Nation’s Restaurant News “Top 500” restaurant. The family-centric pizza brand has three-company and 42-franchise locations throughout the Midwest with 28 more in the pipeline. To learn more, visit HappyJoes.com or follow Happy Joe’s on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.