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Donatos Pizza is a "fast casual" restaurant chain founded in 1963 by college sophomore Jim Grote. The first Donatos was established in Columbus, Ohiomarker. Donatos currently has locations in Alabamamarker, Ohiomarker, Kentuckymarker, Charlottemarker, and Indianapolismarker. Individual size pizzas are also available in the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. They also briefly had locations in Atlantamarker, Orlandomarker and Philadelphiamarker; however, these were subsequently closed. Donatos was also briefly owned by McDonald's, along with Boston Market and Chipotle Mexican Grill, but a majority interest in Donatos was repurchased by Grote as McDonald's sought to refocus on its core business. During this period three stores were operated in Munich, Germany. Donatos serves pizza, subs, salads, stromboli, and wings. With over 170 restaurants, it is one of the more successful pizzeria chains in the U.S.

Donatos, however, is slightly different from fast-food pizza chains such as Domino's or Pizza Hut. Its typical pizza has a thin crust with a thick, slightly sweet tomato sauce; the pizza is typically cut into square pieces instead of the traditional wedge shape (St. Louis-style). Also, the pizza is typically covered in toppings; one touted characteristic of the pepperoni pizza is that a large pizza always has 100 pepperoni slices. Donato's also offers a thicker, more traditional-style crust.

In mid-2005, Donatos introduced the "Take and Bake" Store. In this concept, Donatos offers a limited menu of their Signature Pizzas, Subs, Wings, and Breadsticks, as well as the option to "Take and Bake." The pizzas are created to the customer's order and are placed on a disposable foil baking pan, packaged with a disposable cardboard square cutting board, and boxed with instructions on how to bake them at home. These stores are located inside of Kroger Food and Drug Stores. The fifth Donatos Take and Bake opened in a new market: Wheeling, West Virginiamarker. The company has announced that they will be remodeling many of their Columbus stores to look similar to the store prototype located in the Mill Run Shopping Center in Hilliard, Ohiomarker.They have also partnered with Piedmont Pizza in North and South Carolina which is one of the biggest franchising deals in pizza history.

On June 24, the Orlando Sentinel reported that the seven Orlando stores, all company owned and operated, would be closed due to low profit margins. The article indicated that the company was going to focus on increasing its business through franchisees. [145145]

On August 21, 2009, several Columbus, Ohiomarker stores launched a new hand-tossed crust, with the concept going company-wide on September 9, 2009. This pizza features a sweeter pizza sauce, real mozzarella instead of the company standard provolone cheese, a traditional "pie cut" instead of the signature "square cut," and a spicier pepperoni.


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