Cassano's Pizza King

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Cassano's Pizza King
IndustryFood Wholesale
FoundedKettering, Ohio, USA (1953)
HeadquartersKettering, Ohio, USA
Key people
Vic Cassano, Sr. (Co-founder, d. 2002), Vic Cassano Jr. (d. 2010)
ProductsPizza, Subs, Salads

Cassano's Pizza King, currently operating under the brand Cassano's, is a pizzeria chain based in Kettering, Ohio, a suburb of Dayton. Established on June 4, 1953, by the Kettering grocer Victor "Vic" J. Cassano, Sr. (June 4, 1922 – January 1, 2002) and his mother-in-law Caroline "Mom" Donisi, the company currently (2005) operates 34 Cassano's Pizza King restaurants in the Dayton area, and has three other western Ohio franchises (in Russells Point, Fairfield and Sidney), plus a franchise in Quincy, Illinois, and another in Hannibal, Missouri. The company also operates dozens of Cassano's Pizza Express kiosks in gas stations, convenience stores and hotels, and sells frozen pizza dough under the name Cassano's Fresh Frozen Dough Company.

From the mid-1980s to 1997, the chain operated under the name Cassano's Pizza and Subs,[1] and this branding is still present (as of 2007) on signage and menus at some locations.

In the mid-1970s, Cassano's was ranked by the National Restaurant Association as one of the top four pizza chains in the United States.[2]


Cassano's traditional pizza, a variation of "St. Louis-style pizza", is characterized by its unusually salty, crispy, distinctively flavored thin crust, and is typically cut into small rectangular pieces rather than wedges (party cut instead of pie cut). This style of pizza is also characteristic of Cassano's local rival, Marion's Piazza, based in Beavercreek, which is adjacent to Cassano's Kettering base.

Expansion and downsizing[edit]

Cassano's franchises have also previously operated in Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Indiana, West Virginia, Michigan, and other U.S. states. The chain had grown to over 100 locations when it was sold to Vic Cassano, Jr. (March 19, 1945 – May 28, 2010[3]), who subsequently sold the company to Greyhound Food Management, Inc. (a subsidiary of Greyhound) in 1986. At the time, the chain had 48 locations, but Greyhound planned a massive expansion, with 100 to 150 new restaurants planned each year in order to compete with Domino's Pizza.[4] Over an 18-month period, Greyhound briefly opened 33[5] delivery-only restaurants, using Columbus, Ohio, as a test market. However, the more-expensive Cassano's pizza, which competed well against dine-in restaurants, was too high-priced for the delivery-only market and could not compete against Domino's.[citation needed] Greyhound changed classic menu items and failed to deliver on its promises to refurbish older Cassano's stores and inject fresh capital into marketing;[6] the planned expansion did not occur beyond Columbus, and the then-chairman of Greyhound, John Teats, ordered every new Cassano's unit to be closed on the same day.[6]

In 1989, Cassano Jr. and Greyhound executive Randy Leasher repurchased the company.[6] Acting on "bad advice", the pair continued to have difficulty with the company. In 1995, the company had 43 restaurants, 13 franchises and 563 employees.[7] Cassano's filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection that year;[5] the company's wholesale dough business, which started in 1994,[8] brought Cassano's $3 million in 1998,[7] and Cassano's Pizza Express operations was launched in 1999, but overall business continued to decline, with only 29 restaurants remaining in January 1999.[9]

In May 2000, Leasher resigned as company president without explanation.[10] Pizza Marketplace later reported the Leasher had been forced out after Cassano Jr. learned Leasher had written a $90,000 company check to himself.[6] In October 2000, following an investigation by the Kettering Police Department (at Cassano Jr.'s behest) and county prosecutors, Leasher pleaded guilty to two charges related to the embezzlement of $700,000 from the company.[10]

Determined to reaffirm the company in Dayton and turn Cassano's around, Cassano Jr. obtained assistance from Mark Heistand, a turnaround consultant at Financial Resource Associates Inc. (KY), and the Tri-State Association for Corporate Renewal (TACR), a nonprofit organization that offers information and assistance to companies involved in crisis situations. In their first year of collaboration, Heistand and Cassano Jr. negotiated with vendors who were owed thousands of dollars, paid off overdue rent, and made cash flow equal to receipts.[5]

Cassano Jr. also began refurbishing the company's pizzerias, adding state-of-the-art ovens and, with the help of sons Chip and Chris, new menu items. A new ad agency, The Ohlmann Group, was hired and ad spending was boosted by 50 percent. However, more locations had to be closed; only 27 full-service locations remained by mid-2001, at which point the chain began to expand again, growing to 29 restaurants at the end of 2001, 33 by August 2002, and 38 by July 2003. Although the company reported a 28 percent increase in orders for its traditional pizzas between March 2003 and March 2004, and an overall 20 percent-per-year increase in business in the first three years of regrouping,[11] the number of restaurants had dropped to 34 by July 2004.

New growth[edit]

A $1 million, 2,000-square-foot (190 m2) call center was created at the company's headquarters in 2004 in order to provide the public with a single phone number through which to order pizza;[12] the call center, one of only six pizzeria chain call centers in the United States,[13] is attributed to a 20 percent growth in Cassano's business in its first year of operation.[14] At the time of its opening, Vic Cassano Jr. stated his intention to renovate or relocate every store, and to provide delivery service to the 10 to 15 percent of Dayton-area homes not yet covered.[13]

In 2005, one new restaurant opened, and total sales increased by "double digits", according to Vic Cassano Jr.[15]

In 2006, plans were announced to open four new pizzerias in the Dayton-area suburbs Englewood and Huber Heights, and nearby cities Brookville and Wilmington, it was also announced that the West Carrollton store would be "rebuilt".[15]

In 2007, the chain had 33 locations, and Cassano Jr. announced plans to spend $1 million on machines to upgrade the company's dough operation. Also announced was the intention to add two new stores in the Dayton suburbs of Moraine and Englewood, and to move an existing Englewood store to a new location. Plans for 2008 included replacing the Smithville Road pizzeria and building another store elsewhere.[16]

Vic Cassano Jr. died on May 28, 2010, at age 65.

In 2010, several restaurants in the chain were relocated or renovated, and online ordering capability was added to the company's web site.[17] Plans were also announced to offer frozen pizzas online;[18] the company at this time had 500 employees, 32 company-owned locations, and 7 franchise locations.

In early 2011, the chain announced plans to open another location in Piqua, Ohio.[17] In late 2011, Pizza Today magazine ranked the company 81st in the U.S. by gross sales, at $26 million, not counting franchises.[19] The magazine had ranked the company at #94 the previous year.[19]

Dough sales[edit]

Cassano's pizza dough is manufactured at a Kettering facility and flash-frozen before being shipped to restaurants. Since 1994, frozen dough is also sold under the auspices of Cassano's Fresh Frozen Dough Company to other companies, such as caterers, at wholesale prices.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Cassano's changing name". March 31, 1997.
  2. ^ Beyerlein, Tom (2008-02-17). "Wife of Cassano's Pizza founder dies". Dayton Daily News.
  3. ^ McCall, Ken (May 28, 2010). "Vic Cassano Jr., CEO of Cassano's Pizza, dies at 65". Dayton Daily News. Vic Cassano Jr., chief executive officer of Cassano’s Pizza, passed away early this morning, May 28, his son Chris said. He was 65.
  4. ^ "A Taste of Tradition - Dayton Business Journal:".[dead link]
  5. ^ a b c Baverman, Laura (August 15, 2005). "Cassano's among those helped by area group".
  6. ^ a b c d Who's Who: Vic Cassano[permanent dead link]
  7. ^ a b Thompson, Julie (May 29, 2000). "Cassano's president leaves".
  8. ^ Bollinger, Julie (May 11, 1998). "Cassano's turning dough into cold cash".
  9. ^ Bollinger, Julie (January 11, 1999). "Cassano's oven-hot pizza is in the bag".
  10. ^ a b Thompson, Julie (November 1, 2000). "Former Cassano's executive guilty".
  11. ^ Baverman, Laura (August 15, 2005). "Cassano's among those helped by area group".
  12. ^ Stephens, Caleb (March 15, 2004). "Cassano's opens new call center".
  13. ^ a b Stephens, Caleb (March 15, 2004). "Cassano's opens new call center".
  14. ^ Call center, profit center | Phone Systems | Pizza Martkeplace Archived 2006-10-15 at the Wayback Machine
  15. ^ a b Stephens, Caleb (May 8, 2006). "Cassano's Pizza gears for regional expansion".
  16. ^ Tresslar, Tim (February 5, 2007). "Cassano's Pizza King to roll out more dough".
  17. ^ a b Christ, Ginger (January 7, 2011). "Cassano's Pizza to open new location".
  18. ^ Demeropolis, Tom (July 19, 2010). "Cassano's cooks up big changes".
  19. ^ a b "Top 100 Pizza Companies". November 2011. Archived from the original on 2011-11-21.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]