Tag Archives: dominos pizza

5 things about Domino’s (and its founder)

Legatus founder Tom Monaghan, who also founded Domino’s Pizza, was recently featured in a news post on FoxNews.com.

Tom Monaghan

Tom Monaghan

For many of us, Domino’s Pizza was an essential part of our childhood. From being slightly confused by The Noid to counting down that 30-minute window in which they promised our pizza would be delivered, delivery pizza was synonymous with Domino’s. But even if no weekend is complete without a Domino’s delivery, we bet that there are plenty of things you didn’t know about this chain.

Domino’s Pizza was founded in 1960 in Ypsilanti, Michigan, near Eastern Michigan University, by brothers Tom and James Monaghan. The duo paid $1,400 to purchase an existing pizzeria called DomiNick’s, and eight months later Tom took full-time control of the business because James didn’t want to quit his job as a mailman (a decision he most likely came to regret).


Celebrating 50 years of marriage

Legatus founder, chairman Tom Monaghan reflects on his golden wedding anniversary . . .

Thomas Monaghan

I have told this story many times, but let me reminisce for those who have not heard it. I opened my first pizza store in Ypsilanti, Mich., in December of 1960. The second store opened in December of 1961 in Mount Pleasant, near Central Michigan University.

I ran the second store and worked seven days per week. I was training a pizza maker so I could have a day off to check on the Ypsilanti store which was 150 miles away. One day the phones weren’t ringing and I got the idea to take a delivery just to get out of the store.

The delivery was to Sweeney Hall. In those days you couldn’t go to the rooms in the girls’ dorms. The switchboard operator would call the customer and she’d come down to get her pizza. The girl at the switchboard was a knockout, cute as a bug’s ear. I was very shy with girls, but I struggled to get a conversation going and got nowhere; she was all business.

The customer got her pizza, and on the way back to the store I was on a cloud. So I got up my nerve and dialed the switchboard operator again. “I’m the guy who just delivered a pizza. Would you go to a movie with me Monday night?” She was indignant. “Who are you?” I said, “I’m the guy who just delivered a pizza.” She said, “I don’t know you.” Finally  she said, “Oh, I just came on duty.” “Who did you replace?” I asked. She gave me the name of Bonnie Hula. I asked if she’d ring her room. Bonnie answered. I went through my spiel again. Same response: “Who are you?”

Finally she said, “Another girl took my place today… Margie Zybach.” So one more time I got my nerve up, called Margie, asked her for a date, and she said OK. Wow! By the second date I was a goner. I showed up for the third date with an engagement ring. She didn’t say yes, but a week later, after using every bit of persuasive power I had, she gave in.

On Aug. 25, Margie and I celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary. We had a relatively private event at our home with mostly family and close friends in attendance — many of the friends Legates. In addition, many Legates sent cards — some indicating they were having Masses offered for us, and many prayers — all of which were very heartwarming and for which we are grateful.

Thomas Monaghan is Legatus’ founder and chairman. He is a member of Legatus’ Naples Chapter.

An American inspiration

An exclusive with Legatus founder Thomas S. Monaghan who turns 75 on March 25 . . .

Tom Monaghan has gained worldwide fame for his notable accomplishments.

He built Domino’s Pizza into a global fast food franchise. He owned the Detroit Tigers and won the World Series. He created Legatus and founded Ave Maria University and Ave Maria School of Law. For decades, he was known for his extravagant lifestyle: a collection of cars, planes, houses, boats and Frank Lloyd Wright furniture and artifacts. When Monaghan sold Domino’s to Bain Capital in 1998, he was worth over a billion dollars.

What few people realize is that Monaghan wasn’t always a high roller. Prior to the success of Domino’s, his life was anything but lavish. And these days, due to a spiritual epiphany in 1989, he chooses to live a simple, highly disciplined lifestyle.

Early Years

Thomas Stephen Monaghan was born in 1937 in Ann Arbor, Mich. His father died when he was four. Two years later, his mother placed Tom and his brother Jim in an orphanage because of financial difficulties. The orphanage was run by an order of Polish nuns, the Felician Franciscan Sisters. Monaghan chooses to look at the bright moments of those years rather than dwell on the hardships. One of those bright lights was Sister Berarda, his first and second grade teacher.

With Sr. Berarda, 1983

“She was a young sister, always very encouraging, and I tried hard under her,” he recalls with a smile. “She was a very holy woman.”

He talks about his life at the orphanage with characteristic charity.

“It was a combination of very strict and spiritual,” Monaghan says. “We had lots of prayers, morning and evening. It was like living in a convent. It’s the best thing that ever happened to me because it gave me my faith.”

In high school, Monaghan went on to live with a succession of foster families.

“The families were good to me,” he remembers. “I was a hard worker, and they treated me like I was one of the family. I couldn’t do any sports at school though, because I had to do chores.”

Monaghan lived with an aunt during his senior year in high school, with the understanding that he would move out upon graduation. After high school, he rented himself a room and drove a truck for a living. His idea was to save money for college and study architecture.

“Then one day I decided to join the Army because I had heard that if you joined the Army for three years, they would pay for two years of college,” he explains.

While speaking with a recruiter, who confirmed this information, Monaghan decided to sign up. What the recruiter failed to mention was that he was recruiting for the Marines. Monaghan found himself enrolled in the Corps with no way out. And the Marines did not pay for college.

Yet Monaghan discovered that the Marines would give him exactly the experience he needed.

“It was the best education that I ever got. It stripped me down and built me back up again. I got more abuse and harassment than I could ever have imagined. But it gave me lots of self-confidence,” he says.

After Monaghan finished his service in the Corps, he lost all his savings to a con man. In the midst of this tough moment, Monaghan’s brother Jim, a mailman, suggested one day they buy a bankrupt pizzeria called DomiNick’s.

“My brother didn’t want to do it alone, so I agreed to go in for half,” he says. “The idea was that I’d work and go to college the other half of the time.”

But Monaghan’s brother never did quit his job as a mailman, and Monaghan soon realized that he was stuck with the pizzeria. He bought his brother’s share and threw himself into the business.

“I was strict with my employees about grooming and about being on time — the same way I was with myself,” he says. “In the beginning, I worked long hours — about 100 hours per week. It was a necessity.”

Moment of conversion


In the end, Monaghan never did go to college. There was simply never time.

Domino’s went on to become enormously successful, paving the way for Monaghan to use his passion for architecture to design his dream house in 1989. About one-third of the way into the project, Monaghan began reading C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity. He read a chapter on pride one night, and it shook him to the core.

“It made me realize what a bad person I was. Pride is the source of all sin. I did so many things to impress people — cars, yachts, this house. C.S. Lewis was saying that the reason I was working so hard was to have more. More what? More than other people.”

Monaghan decided to stop the project immediately. To this day, the house remains exactly as it was — one-third finished.

“I had never liked to show off. This book made me realize that that’s what I had been doing. From then on, I took a millionaire’s vow of poverty. I gave up the planes, the yachts. I stopped construction of the house. I had enjoyed spending too much. It was a moment of conversion. I’m so ashamed of the way I was.”

Monaghan’s conversion had a profound impact on his future plans. He began to think about giving away all of his money while he was still alive. He made the decision public in 1998 when the Detroit Free Press quoted him as saying, “I want to die broke.”

Monaghan used his characteristic ingenuity in deciding how to make that happen.

“I put a lot of thought into how to use my charity dollars. I came to the conclusion that it was to help people learn the faith. There has been a major collapse of Catholic education at all levels, so I thought I could help grade schools and high schools — and I did do it — but then I realized that the best way would be to build a university. Not too many people were in a position to do this, so I felt that I had an obligation to do it.”

Founded in 2003, Ave Maria University was the first new U.S. Catholic university in 50 years. Today, it has 1,200 students. Monaghan’s vision for Ave Maria’s future is to have 4,000 undergrad and 1,500 graduate students.

“My biggest hope is to provide teachers for Catholic schools — K through graduate school — and vocations. We must teach teachers about the Catholic faith,” he says emphatically.


Monaghan began going to daily Mass in 1983 after hearing that Don Shula, the renowned Miami Dolphins coach, was a daily communicant.

“I figured if he could find the time, then so could I,” Monaghan says.

Part of Monaghan’s daily regimen in the Marines included exercise — a habit he has maintained throughout his life. Every day he exercises 35-40 minutes on the Stairmaster, 20 minutes of upper or lower body weights, and a six-mile walk.

While he exercises, Monaghan recites five mysteries of the rosary — the mystery for the day and then all four mysteries. A cooperator with Opus Dei, he prays the morning and evening Divine Office and does various other spiritual reading.

Monaghan is also a disciplined eater. Though he loves food, he has always been careful to maintain a healthy weight. Considering the thousands of pizzas he has made, this is no small feat.

Gyrene Burger, 2012

Still the food entrepreneur, Monaghan opened a new hamburger delivery restaurant last year in Naples, Fla. He had once delivered burgers years ago through Domino’s because he thought pizza delivery was a fad. Could Monaghan’s Gyrene Burger be the next Domino’s? He doesn’t know, but he’s having fun getting the business off the ground.

On March 25, the feast of the Annunciation, Monaghan will turn 75. Asked about its significance, he shrugs. “It doesn’t mean anything. My wife is planning my birthday party. I always plan hers. My doctor says that I’m going to live to be 100.”

When questioned about his legacy in 100 years, Monaghan responds in his typical humble manner: “Well, I hope that I’m out of Purgatory by then!”

Sabrina Arena Ferrisi is Legatus magazine’s senior staff writer.

The importance of focus

Tom Monaghan offers valuable life lessons on focusing on your goals and strategies . . .

Thomas Monaghan

In the early years of Domino’s Pizza, I was continually pressed by some of our people to diversify. Things were going well, the stores were increasing in sales every year, and new stores were opening at an ever faster clip.

But some felt that it could not last and that the bubble would burst. Opportunities to buy other small fast food chains were constantly coming up, and many thought that I had my head in the sand when I did not jump at these chances.

My feeling was that pizza was always going to be popular; I still love pizza today. Delivery would also always be in fashion because people wanted convenience. And because it was so tough to do well, we had to be focused. So, instead of diversifying and seemingly spreading the risk, I put all of my eggs in one basket and focused intently on it.

You could not be more focused: We had one company — Domino’s Pizza. It had one type of store — pizza delivery — with no sit-down facilities. During our best years (the 1980s) we offered pizzas in only two sizes and one drink, Coca-Cola. In most stores, the hours were short: 4:30 pm-12:30 am. Central stations (commissaries) processed all of the food so that the stores could stay focused on “handling the rush” — a phrase referring to keeping up with the orders during the peak hours.

In the 1980s we grew from 300 to 5,000 stores. We were the fastest-growing restaurant chain in history at that time. Our market share of pizzas delivered was 54%.

If I had stayed on that course, who knows where Domino’s would be right now! So, unless you’re in the “buggy whip” business, being fanatically focused is the right way to go.

At Ave Maria University, we are focused on only a relatively small number of majors that are the most important to the Church and society. At those, we aim to be the best.

Thomas Monaghan is Legatus’ founder and chairman. He is a member of Legatus’ Naples Chapter.