Jet's Pizza Still Flying High

Friday, July 26, 2013

Eugene Jetts was 23 years old and on his way to buy a house when he drove by a party store on 14 Mile Road that was for lease.

Unhappy with his job, and not really wanting to become a homeowner, he took a detour and talked the landlord into letting him rent the store east of Ryan Road in Sterling Heights.

The store "" which became Jetts Party Shoppe "" also happened to have a pizza oven in back.

With his brother John "" and mom Elmina Jetts providing some pizza-making skills "" the brothers worked long hours starting in 1978 to perfect their pizza product. Fourteen years later, they had opened several other pizza stores and continued their alliance with their cousins and business partners Jim Galloway Jr. and Jeff Galloway by forming the Jet's America corporation.

That original pizza shop is now one of more than 300 in the Jet's Pizza chain in 16 states across the country. On Friday, an emotional Eugene celebrated Jet's 35th anniversary and the opening of its 300th store (in Missouri).

Under a party tent outside that first location, the Jetts and Galloway brothers gathered with family, friends, franchisees and local officials to mark their milestones.

Eugene recalled how in the early days, the men would sit on milk crates after hours of exhausting pizza-making at the 14 Mile location and dream about opening more stores. Seven months after the store opened, Eugene said he and John took home their first paycheck "" $35 each "" for their work that sometimes went from 8 a.m. to 1 a.m., with sleep coming on cots in the store.

"It took us 27 years to open 100 stores, and we"ôve opened (another) 200 in the last eight years," Eugene said. "At this pace, four years from now we"ôll be at 500. That's our next accomplishment."

Keeping the product at the same quality it was 35 years ago "" using the same kind of sauce, meat and cheese "" is "what got us here," said Eugene, company president. John Jetts is vice president of marketing; Jim Galloway Jr. is vice president of franchising, Jeff Galloway is vice president of operations.

Among those helping celebrate the milestones was Sterling Heights Mayor Richard Notte who said, "What a success story this is. There are five (Jet's) stores in Sterling Heights alone "" they call me by my first name at the one at 18 Mile and Ryan. It's the people and product that make Jet's a success."

The Jetts and Galloways agree, and the brothers have high praise for their franchisees and employees.

"We are especially proud of the fact that we have given many young people right here in southeast Michigan career opportunities," said Eugene. "Some have started out as dishwashers and now are independent owners."

Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel joined the party and noted "Jet's is one of my favorite pizzas. But it's not about the pizza, it's about the people who are behind the product."

Still headquartered in Sterling Heights, Jet's Pizza (Jet's America) has been ranked No. 12 in overall sales by PMQ, a pizza industry magazine.

"We want to thank all of our loyal southeast Michigan customers for their patronage over the years," said John Jetts. "Their support has helped up to build the Jet's brand into what it is today."

Jet's Pizza gave away free slices of its signature deep dish square pizza from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. July 27 at its first location, 4185 14 Mile Road, east of Ryan Road in Sterling Heights. The offer was valid at this location only and was limited to one slice per person.

Franchise Ranking History
Franchise 500: #132 (2014), #146 (2013), #136 (2012), #145 (2011), #207 (2010),
Fastest-Growing: #67 (2014), #82 (2012), #94 (2011)

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Jet's Pizza
37501 Mound Rd.
Sterling Heights, MI

Phone: (586)795-8173

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