As the result of nerve damage from a bout of malaria during World War II Sherwood Johnson became known as “Shakey” and the pizza parlor that he and his partner Ed Plummer founded in 1954 became SHAKEY’S. The first weekend that they were open – there was no Pizza, just ice-cold beer - so cold that it would crack your glass eye. The profits made that first weekend were then used to buy pizza ingredients and the following Monday they began serving Pizza & Beer.
The original Sacramento location at 57th & J remained open until the late 90’s. A second location was opened in Portland, OR in 1956. They began franchising in 1957. By 1967 there were 272 locations and ‘Shakey’ Johnson sold his half of the company for $3 million to Colorado Milling & Elevator. In 1968 Plummer sold his half to Milling & Elevator for $9 million.
Interesting Note: The first franchisee was Jim (now deceased) & Isabell (Izzy) Jansen who operated Shakey’s Pizza Parlors in Albany and Corvallis, Oregon for more than 20 years. In the late 70’s, Izzy (now Covalt) and her son Fred Jansen decided not to renew their franchise agreement. Although their Shakey’s Pizza Parlors remained successful, they felt that there was greater potential if they upgraded the pizza parlor to a pizza restaurant and expanded the menu and Izzy’s was born. Fred bought his mother ½ of the company in 1982 and began to Franchise Izzy’s. Today there are 25 Izzy’s in the Northwest.
Hunt International Resources acquired the company in 1974, and the chain began to expand into Japan and the Philippines. The chain is now much bigger in the Philippines than in the U.S. In 1984 two franchisees purchased the chain, but sold it to Singapore based Inno-Pacific Holdings in 1989, and most of the U.S. locations began to close. California based Jacmar Companies who owned 19 Shakeys acquired the chain in 2004.
There were 325 U.S. locations in 1974 when the company was acquired by Hunt International. This number has gradually declined to just 62 locations in the U.S last year and all but 7 being in California.