What’s Shaking at the New Shakey’s Pizza

Who wants to go to Shakey’s Pizza?

If you were of a certain generation, everyone did.

My personal memory is of a pizza parlor on Virginia Beach Boulevard near the Princess Anne Plaza shopping center in Virginia Beach. The “parlor” was small. A player piano played bad Dixieland. Badly edited Laurel & Hardy, Abbott & Costello and Three Stooges shorts played on a screen in a continuous loop. Staff wore striped shirts. It was different.

There was pizza for everyone, pitchers of Coke for the kids and beer for the parents (now we know why parents liked to have birthday parties there!).

The chain was founded April 30, 1954 in Sacramento, by a man named Sherwood “Shakey” Johnson who turned it into a national franchise operation. But over the years, and with a succession of owners, Shakey’s declined, and became a regional chain again. Today, the chain is coming back, with a new concept and a new restaurant design, which can be seen by clicking on the website snapshot above. Pretty interesting, and the new concept has the old signage on the wall.

It’s a full service restaurant, with video games and a more slick design. The company is owned by The Jacmar Companies, a home builder and real estate firm in California that owned an early franchise. The re-launch leadership included CEO Tim Pulido (who apparently has left for Mimi’s Cafe), Executive Vice President Joe Remsa and Director of Marketing Cindy Staats.

BrandlandUSA hasn’t seen the new Shakey’s. But it raises the question. When a brand goes into decline and is revived, do you copy the old, or throw out the old and reinvent the brand?

Is the new Shakey’s an appropriate update? Do folks like it?


8 Comments

  1. Dear KR..thanks for posting the You Tube clips.

  2. Pasquales pizza places seem to be in a similar situation as is Shakey’s in the nearly dead, but attempting a comeback department.

    Pasquales was our franchise pizza hangout in my youth, beginning in Cincinnati, then later in Birmingham, AL in the ’60s and ’70s. They declined for some reason thereafter (the rise of Pizza Hut?) but some still clung to life on through the present day.

    Now, new owners seem intent on revitalizing the venerable chain. I hope it works out for them. Pasquales pizza was very good and even better were their fondly remembered sandwiches–the Hoggie and the Stromboli Steak sandwiches.

    Their website:

    http://pasqualefoodsystems.com/

    Tom Frieling
    tfrielin@uga.edu

  3. There’s a Shakey’s here in Okinawa. I haven’t visited it yet, but it retains the old lettering on its sign.

    Two other ghost brands on the island include Mister Donut, an old New England chain, and Blue Seal ice cream, a remnant of Foremost Dairies. The latter is an Okinawan institution , with mainlanders bringing back containers packed in dry ice.

  4. Also, it’s funny how the brand changes over time. I associate Shakey’s with “South Park” since Eric Cartman has at least twice embarked on nefarious schemes to acquire its pizza.

    Until I moved here, I never knew it actually existed.


  5. I worked at Shakey’s located at 6006 W. Broad St. in Richmond, Va from 1969 to 1971. Live music (Banjo and piano players). The restaurant was packed every weekend. The busiest I have ever seen the place was one Valentine’s day, Shakey’s advertised heart shaped pizzas. The line was out the door and around the building. We called in every employee and ran out of sauce, cheese, etc. We couldn’t keep the gas fired stone ovens hot. Wow…brings back memories.

  6. I remember Shakey’s! The one near me is now a Chinese restaurant, but still has the original carpet, faded though it is.

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