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|Headquarters||2808 North 108th Street|
Omaha, Nebraska 68164
|Ronald B. Gartlan (CEO)|
Godfather's Pizza is a privately owned restaurant chain headquartered in Omaha, Nebraska, that operates fast casual Italian franchises. In addition to their fast casual franchise locations, they also operate many Pizza Express Bars.
Godfather's Pizza was founded in Omaha, Nebraska, in 1973. Willy Theisen bought out the pizza parlor and the name in 1974 from Gregg Johnson (who later started the Minsky's Pizza restaurants), and sold his first franchise. Theisen sold the company to Pillsbury in the mid-1980s and stepped down from actively managing the company. In 1986, Pillsbury named Herman Cain CEO and President of the brand. Cain and Ronald B. Gartlan, the company's executive vice president, led a group to purchase the Godfather's brand from Pillsbury, which they did by the beginning of 1990 in a leveraged buyout for what was reported to be $100 million. It was reported to be the fifth largest pizza chain in the United States at the time, down from third place in 1985. About this time, many Godfather's locations were bought out by Pantera's Pizza using a similar recipe.[clarification needed] Under Cain's leadership, Godfather's closed approximately 200 restaurants and eliminated several thousand jobs, and by doing so returned to profitability. Cain stepped down from his position as CEO and President in 1996 and Gartlan became CEO. Cain stayed on as Chairman until 2002. In 2009 Gartlan bought out Cain. According to the company's official website, as of 14 May 2015[ref], the chain has 571 locations in 36 U.S. states. Godfather's Pizza also operates in some Speedway locations, as well as most Minit Mart locations in Kentucky and northern Tennessee.
The restaurants serve a wide variety of pizzas, breadsticks, chips, cookies, and pastas, and has an extensive salad bar and buffet. They offer four different types of crust: Original, Golden, Mozza-Loaded, and Thin. The chain has recently introduced gluten-free pizzas, made from rice flour.
Godfather's Pizza is also known for its commercials featuring "The Godfather", a parody of Marlon Brando's character, Don Vito Corleone, from the 1972 film The Godfather. "The Godfather" has been played by two actors, the first being Omaha actor J. William Koll, who typically wore a white fedora hat, a pin stripe suit, and a flower on his jacket. He also used the sayings "A pizza you can't refuse!", "Do it!", "If you don't like anchovies, you'll be sleeping with the fishes", "Da goods is in da box!" and "I know your neighborhood." The current spokesman is Omaha actor Dale O'Brien.