Shakey's Pizza

Shakey's Pizza is a pizza restaurant chain based in the United States.[1] Founded in 1954, it was the first franchise pizza chain in the United States.[2][3] In 1968, the chain had 342 locations.[4] The chain had about 500 stores globally, and 58 in the United States, as of July 2019.

Shakey's USA, Inc.
FoundedApril 30, 1954; 66 years ago (1954-04-30)
Sacramento, California
FoundersSherwood Johnson
Ed Plummer
HeadquartersAlhambra, California
ProductsPizza, sandwiches, pasta, fried chicken, desserts
ParentThe Jacmar Companies


Original Shakey's logo

Shakey's Pizza was founded in Sacramento, California, on April 30, 1954, by Sherwood "Shakey" Johnson and Ed Plummer. Johnson's nickname resulted from nerve damage following a bout of malaria suffered during World War II. The parlor opened on a weekend, but since the pizza ovens were not yet completed[5] only beer was served. Shakey took the profits from beer sales and bought ingredients for pizza the following Monday.

Shakey personally played dixieland jazz piano to entertain patrons, also hiring the original members of the Silver Dollar Jazz Band, paying the musicians $10 each plus all the beer and pizza they wanted. (Shakey soon realized it was cheaper to pay the musicians scale). This brought the music of Lu Watters to the Sacramento area and caused a local sensation. Jazz historian K.O. Eckland has given this band the credit for the jazz revival in Sacramento that extended to the formation of the Sacramento Traditional Jazz Society.[6] Shakey's also became known outside Sacramento, not for its pizza, but for the jazz program it sponsored on a regional radio network. Shakey Johnson is honored in the American Banjo Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, for his longtime use of banjo music at his pizza parlors. Other live music, including piano, was also a staple in the old Shakey's parlors.

The original parlor (a remodeled grocery store)[5] at 57th and J Streets in Sacramento remained in business until the mid-1990s.

The second Shakey's Pizza Parlor opened in Portland, Oregon, in 1956. Shakey's opened their third parlor in Albany, Oregon, in 1959, which was the first building Shakey's actually owned and the first building to be built in the distinct building style for which Shakey's is known. It now operates as a used bookstore. According to Johnson, Shakey's Pizza engaged in little market research and made most of its decisions on where to locate stores by going where Kinney Shoes opened stores. By the time Johnson sold his interest in 1967, there were 272 Shakey's Pizza Parlors in the United States. The first international store opened in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, in 1968. By 1975, the company had expanded to the Pacific Rim, including Japan and the Philippines.[7]

By the early 1970s, Shakey's had become popular with families and youth sports groups in Southern California. The long rows of picnic tables end-on-end facilitated large groups. Youth sports teams would go to Shakey's after their weekend games, where the kids could eat pizza and have fun, and the parents could drink beer and socialize. In fact, the advertising motto for Shakey's was "We serve fun at Shakey's... also pizza". One of the features of Shakey's was its large windows between the dining hall and the kitchen. One could order pizza and then watch as the dough was prepared, sauce and toppings added, and then pizza slid into the oven. Kids enjoyed watching the process and running to tell their parents when the pizza came out of the oven.


A Shakey's restaurant in the Philippines

The brand became a well-established franchise in the Philippines,[8][7] where it began in 1975 under the ownership of the country's largest food conglomerate, San Miguel Corporation, primarily promoting their San Miguel draft beer. Beginning with a restaurant located in Makati Avenue, Makati, the restaurant expanded rapidly in Metro Manila, with most of its outlets offering live music. San Miguel had difficulty maintaining the consistency of the branches, and ultimately sold the franchise in 1987 to International Family Food Services, Inc. (IFFSI), a group led by the family of sports executive Leo Prieto. By 1997, it had evolved into mostly a fast-food franchise. In 2003, the company began "reengineering" the brand as a family-oriented casual dining brand. In 2004, Shakey's partnered with Sports Vision for the launch of the Shakey's V-League, one of the pioneering volleyball leagues in the country.[9]

As of early 2015, there were 153 Shakey's outlets in the Philippines, more than double the number remaining in the United States.[10][11]

In March 2016, the Century Pacific Group and the Singapore-based GIC Private Limited acquired the majority shares of IFFSI from the Prieto family, which will retain a minority interest in the company.[12][13] In October 2016, IFFSI changed its name to Shakey's Pizza Asia Ventures Inc. (SPAVI)[14] and became listed in the Philippine Stock Exchange on December 15, 2016 with the ticker symbol PSEPIZZA. It was disclosed that IFFSI acquired ownership of the Shakey's trademark in the Philippines since 1999 and also owns the trademark rights for the Middle East, Asia (except Japan and Malaysia), China, India, Australia and New Zealand. Circa 2017 it signed a joint venture deal to bring the brand to Kuwait.[15]

Ownership changes and declineEdit

Shakey Johnson sold his half of the company for $3 million to Colorado Milling and Elevator in 1967, which acquired Plummer's half for $9 million the next year when Colorado Milling merged with Great Western Sugar Company to become Great Western United Corporation.[16]

In 1974, Shakey's was sold from Great Western to Hunt International Resources, famous for their attempt to corner the silver market. At the time Hunt International bought Shakey's in 1974, the restaurant chain had approximately 500 stores throughout the United States, including stores as far east as Latham, New York and Westbrook, Maine. [17][16] Two franchisees bought the chain in 1984 and they sold out to Inno-Pacific Holdings of Singapore in 1989.[16][18] By that time, the number of franchises had declined to 221.[19] Most of the remaining U. S. stores closed during the time Inno-Pacific owned the chain. Some of the remaining franchisees took Inno-Pacific to court in 2003.

Before this could come to trial, Shakey's was sold to Jacmar Companies of Alhambra, California in 2004.[20][21] Jacmar had been the franchisee of 19 Shakey's restaurants.

As of October 2018, there were 51 Shakey's Pizza restaurants in the United States - 48 of the locations are in California (all, except Oroville, are in Southern California), and two in Washington. The last location east of the Mississippi River, in Auburn, Alabama, closed in April 2019.

There are six locations in the Greater Mexico City metro area.

All locations indefinitely closed their dining rooms in mid-March 2020 to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, but take-away service is still available.

In popular cultureEdit

In a season five episode of South Park titled "Kenny Dies", Cartman uses human stem cells to clone a Shakey's restaurant.[22] In a season 10 episode, titled "Stanley's Cup", Stan mentions visiting Shakey's after a supposedly infamous peewee hockey game at the Pepsi Center between periods of a Colorado Avalanche home game.


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Brack, Ray (October 7, 1967). "Shakey's Serving Music with Pizza". Billboard. Retrieved 14 April 2015.
  2. ^ "Shakey's", in The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America (Oxford University Press, 2013), ISBN 978-0199734962, p. 245. Excerpts available at Google Books.
  3. ^ "Shakey's Pizza Parlors….Where Have They All Gone?". CNY News. March 8, 2013. Retrieved 14 April 2015.
  4. ^ Flathers, Harley (January 23, 2014). "Back and Forth: Shakey's Pizza was the place to be". Retrieved November 24, 2017.
  5. ^ a b "Shakey's Philippines - About Us". Archived from the original on 26 November 2009. Retrieved 29 June 2017.
  6. ^ Burt Wilson, "Silver Dollar Jazz Band", YouTube posted August 10, 2010.
  7. ^ a b Michels, Patrick (November 21, 2017). "World's Weird America: How Our Most Popular Products Are Seen Overseas". Pacific Standard. Retrieved November 24, 2017.
  8. ^ Robert Frank, "When Small Chains Go Abroad, Culture Clashes Require Ingenuity", The Wall Street Journal, April 12, 2000.
  9. ^ Navarro, Dante (November 21, 2015). "Shakey's V-League Turning dormant sport to a sporting spectacle". The Philippine Star. Retrieved March 28, 2016.
  10. ^ "Shakey’s reengineering: From rock band, fast food joint into family restaurant chain", Philippine Daily Inquirer, September 7, 2013.
  11. ^ "From service crew to CEO", Manila Standard, February 14, 2015.
  12. ^ Gonzales, Iris (March 24, 2016). "Century Pacific, Singapore's GIC gain control of Shakey's Philippines". The Philippine Star. Retrieved March 28, 2016.
  13. ^ Dela Paz, Charisse (March 23, 2016). "Century Pacific and Singapore's GIC to buy Shakey's Philippines". Rappler. Retrieved March 28, 2016.
  14. ^ "Markets and securities regulation department" (PDF). Retrieved June 30, 2017.
  15. ^ Dumlao-Abadilla, Doris. "Market gobbles up pizza". Retrieved 29 June 2017.
  16. ^ a b c "Leisure eNewsletter - October 2004: Shakey's Celebrates 50 Years of Eatertainment". White Hutchinson. October 2004. Retrieved 8 August 2020.
  17. ^ {{cite web|url=
  18. ^ "ANALYSIS: Sale of Shakey's Pizza great for franchisees, even better for Inno-Pacific". Pizza Marketplace. 2003-01-01. Retrieved 2017-11-24.
  19. ^ "Singapore Group Buys Shakey's Inc". The New York Times. 10 February 1989. Retrieved 30 June 2016.
  20. ^ "Jacmar Corp., franchisee of Shakey's Pizza, moves to acquire Shakey's Inc". 10 May 2004. Retrieved 29 June 2017.
  21. ^ "ANALYSIS: Sale of Shakey's Pizza great for franchisees, even better for Inno-Pacific". 26 July 2004. Retrieved 29 June 2017.
  22. ^ Doyle Greene (2007). Politics and the American Television Comedy: A Critical Survey from I Love Lucy through South Park. McFarland & Company. p. 219. ISBN 978-0-7864-3235-6.

External linksEdit