Grote family reacquires Donatos Pizzeria from McDonald's ... UPDATED

Dec. 15, 2003

COLUMBUS, Ohio—The Grote family announced it has reacquired Donatos Pizzeria, the company Jim Grote founded 40 years ago and sold to McDonald's Corp. in May of 1999.

A Donatos news release called the change "a very positive move for both Donatos and McDonald's."

As a result of the ownership change, Grote will assume the role of chief executive officer and chairman of the board, and daughter Jane Grote Abell will become chief operating officer. Long-time Donatos vice president Tom Krouse will assume the newly created position of chief concept officer.

"We are excited with this opportunity," Grote said in the release. "It gives us the ability to continue our focus on making the best pizza we can while furthering our mission to promote goodwill."

Grote was traveling to speak to franchisees about the sale, and was unavailable for comment.

"He wants to make sure everyone understands that what's going to take place is a pretty seamless transition," Santor said. "Everyone (in the company) I've talked to is delighted to have Jim back leading the company, though it's not as if he ever left."

Santor said Grote enjoyed his four-year relationship with McDonald's. The relationships his boss built and the lessons he learned while a part of the world's largest foodservice company were invaluable.

Donatos currently operates 182 pizzerias in seven states. The company's three international units, located in Germany, remain McDonald's property.

Donatos' near-term plans, Santor said, are to "maximize the performance of the restaurants we have, and then step back and decide what to do for the long-term. ... But it's not as if we're going to go busting off in some new direction just because of the change" in ownership.

See related Donatos stories BREAKING NEWS: McDonald's confirms sale of Donatos Pizzeria back to founder, Grote, Are congrats in order for Donatos Pizzeria's Jim Grote?, McDonald's sale of Donatos Pizzeria appears imminent and Donatos Pizzeria, other Partner Brands, under 'strategic review' at McD's.

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