Cassano's Pizza King

Cassano's Pizza King

company_name = Cassano's Pizza King
company_type = Private
foundation = Kettering, Ohio, USA (1953)
location = Kettering, Ohio, USA
key_people = Vic Cassano, Sr. (Co-founder, d. 2002), Vic Cassano Jr. (Chairman, CEO)
industry = Food Wholesale
products = Pizza, Subs, Salads
homepage = []

Cassano's Pizza King, currently operating under the brand Cassano's, is a pizzeria chain based in Kettering, Ohio, a suburb of Dayton. Established June 4, 1953 by Kettering grocer Victor "Vic" J. Cassano, Sr. (June 4, 1922 – January 1, 2002) and his mother-in-law Caroline "Mom" Donisi, the company currently (as of 2005) operates 34 Cassano's Pizza King restaurants in the Dayton area, and has four other western Ohio franchises (in Russells Point, Piqua, 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, [ [ Cassano's changing name - Dayton Business Journal: ] ] 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. [cite news|newspaper=Dayton Daily News|title=Wife of Cassano's Pizza founder dies|last=Beyerlein|first=Tom|date=2008-02-17|url=]

Expansion and downsizing

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. , who subsequently sold the company to Greyhound Food Management, Inc. in 1986. It had 48 locations at that time. Greyhound had planned a massive expansion of the chain, opening 100 to 150 new restaurants per year in order to compete with Domino's Pizza. [ A Taste of Tradition - Dayton Business Journal: ] ] Over an 18-month period, Greyhound briefly opened 33 [ Cassano's among those helped by area group - Dayton Business Journal: ] ] 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.fact|date=August 2008 Greyhound also changed classic menu items, and failed to deliver on its promises to refurbish older Cassano's stores and inject fresh capital into marketing. [ Who's Who: Vic Cassano] ] The planned expansion didn't occur beyond Columbus, and then-Greyhound chairman John Teats ordered every new Cassano's unit be closed on the same day.

In 1989, Cassano Jr. and Greyhound executive Randy Leasher repurchased the company. Acting on "bad advice", the pair continued to have difficulty with the company, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 1995, at which time it had 43 restaurants, 13 franchises, and 563 employees. [ Cassano's president leaves - Dayton Business Journal: ] ] The wholesale dough business, which started in 1994 [ [ Cassano's turning dough into cold cash - Dayton Business Journal: ] ] brought the company $3 million in 1998, and Cassano's Pizza Express operations launched in 1999, but overall business continued to decline; the company was down to 29 restaurants in January 1999. [ [ Cassano's oven-hot pizza is in the bag - Dayton Business Journal: ] ]

In May 2000, Leasher resigned as company president without explanation. [ Former Cassano's executive guilty - Dayton Business Journal: ] ] "Pizza Marketplace" later reported the Leasher had been forced out after Cassano Jr. learned Leasher had written a $90,000 company check to himself. 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.

Determined to turn the company around and reaffirm itself in Dayton, 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.

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 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; there were 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, [ Cassano's among those helped by area group - Dayton Business Journal: ] ] the number of restaurants had dropped back down to 34 by July 2004.

New growth

A $1 million, 2000-square foot 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. [ [ Cassano's opens new call center - Dayton Business Journal: ] ] The call center, one of only six pizzeria chain call centers in the United States, [ Cassano's opens new call center - Dayton Business Journal: ] ] is attributed to a 20 percent growth in Cassano's business in its first year of operation. [ [ Call center, profit center | Phone Systems | Pizza Martkeplace ] ] 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.

In 2005, one new restaurant opened, and total sales increased by "double digits", according to Vic Cassano Jr. [ Cassano's Pizza gears for regional expansion - Dayton Business Journal: ] ]

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".

In 2007, the chain reportedly 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 include replacing the Smithville Road pizzeria and building another store elsewhere. [ Cassano's Pizza King to roll out more dough - Dayton Business Journal: ] ]


Cassano's traditional pizza, a variation of "Connecticut style," is characterized by its unusually salty, crispy, distinctively flavored thin crust, and is typically cut into small rectangular pieces rather than wedges. A wafer-thin, low-carb, whole-wheat based crust was added to the menu in 2004. [ [ Cassano's Pizza offers low-carb dough | | Pizza Martkeplace ] ] [ [ Cassano's pizza chain joining low-carb craze - Dayton Business Journal: ] ] Most full-service locations also offer a thicker hand-tossed crust (wedge-cut), subs and other sandwiches, salads, appetizers, and soft drinks.

Dough sales

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.


Cassano's has an extensive shared history with another Dayton chain, Marion's Piazza.


* [ Cassano's Pizza King founder dead at 79] —2002 trade publication article
* [ Cassano's Pizza King aims to reclaim Dayton market] —2002 trade publication article
* [ Cassano's Pizza offers low-carb dough] —2004 trade publication article
* [ Cassano’s Pizza King: A rise, fall and rebirth] —2006 trade publication article

External links

* [ Cassano's web site]

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