It was 1961. Alan Shepard was the USA's first man in space. Dion's "Runaround Sue" topped the music charts. Volkswagen's funny little car invaded America in droves. And a young school teacher opened a small, one-man pizza restaurant in Tulsa, Oklahoma, which was to be the birthplace of the growing, dynamic Mazzio's LLC of today.
That original restaurant – named The Pizza Parlor – delighted many Tulsans with the very first pizza they ever ate. The school teacher was Ken Selby, who ran his new business virtually alone and after teaching a full day as well.
Four years and a growing, loyal customer base later, 1965 was to be a banner year of fateful decisions for Selby. He made pizza his full-time job. He opened a second location, which exceeded the success of his first. Plus, the name changed to Ken's Pizza – solidly branding Selby's popular special recipe sauce and thin crust.
It all worked splendidly. By 1975, the links of his two starting stores steadily grew to a strong chain of more than 100 company and franchise locations, inside and outside of Oklahoma.
Then, in the late '70s, Selby conceived a unique approach to build more business for his already successful pizza enterprise. His idea called for more square footage of casual dining space, an expanded menu, thicker pizza served with more meats and cheeses, sub sandwiches ... along with a huge salad bar filled with more choices.
That new concept was Mazzio's Pizza. With a premiere in 1979, it was an instant hit that is still making sales and growth history. In 10 years, the Mazzio's chain grew to more than 150 locations in a dozen states, setting new industry benchmarks for sales along the way. Presently, the concept features 165 units in nine states.
Innovation continues with the addition of a line of made-to-order pastas and the launch of the Calzone Ring®, Family Bakes, Cinnaboli and more. The concept is in the middle of an exciting remodel program that gives the restaurants a stylish, contemporary look and feel. The expanded menu and new look resulted in a more descriptive name, Mazzio's Italian Eatery.
So what's the next, great concept for new sales and growth? That's a trade secret. Yet, Ken Selby does see a great future for Mazzio's. In fact, the expectation of ongoing Mazzio's LLC success lies in what history teaches us: To glimpse the future, you only have to look at the past.