The Untold Truth Of Gatti’s Pizza

BY KOREY LANE/JAN. 13, 2021 12:33 PM EST/UPDATED: JAN. 13, 2021 12:33 PM EST

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Mr. Gatti's Pizza on placemat

If you were lucky enough to go to a Mr. Gatti’s Pizza restaurant when you were younger then you know just how awesome the establishment can be. If you weren’t lucky enough to go, then allow us to paint you a picture: imagine all the fun of a Chuck E. Cheese or CiCis pizza but with better games, fewer little kids (and little kid smells), and way better pizza. That was Mr. Gatti’s, a family pizza joint with tons of games and entertainment that still managed to have delicious food for everyone to enjoy.

Truly, Mr. Gatti’s Pizza isn’t your typical pizza joint. Sure, you can order whatever kind of pie you want and they have a pretty extensive menu, but the emphasis at Mr. Gatti’s Pizza is more on the entire experience of eating and playing there. But what’s the story of Mr. Gatti’s Pizza? Well, it’s pretty interesting, and the untold truth of Gatti’s Pizza is that the restaurant chain is a lot more than just pizza.

Mr. Gatti’s Pizza began in Texas
Array of Mr. Gatti's Pizza menu items on table
Just like pretty much every chain restaurant, Mr. Gatti’s Pizza started out small. Though it hasn’t been around for centuries and, less hyperbolically, Mr. Gatti’s Pizza isn’t quite as popular as other nationwide pizza mega-chains, it does have a pretty interesting back story. After all, Mr. Gatti’s Pizza didn’t just appear out of thin air. The work that it took to make it the large franchise into what it is today started very humbly indeed.

According to the Mr. Gatti’s Pizza website, the chain was launched in a small Texas town years ago when founder James Eure opened his first pizza joint in 1964 in Stephenville, Texas. Though, at the time, it was simply called “The Pizza Place”, this first restaurant would plant the seeds for a business that would grow to much larger proportions. In 1969, Eure moved to Austin, Texas, where the first official Mr. Gatti’s Pizza opened. Eure named it Mr. Gatti’s Pizza in honor of his wife’s maiden name. That’s a pretty sweet dedication to his wife, if you ask us, especially if she enjoyed pizza as much as Mr. Gatti’s restaurant-goers. So, with a rather grand romantic gesture, Mr. Gatti’s Pizza was off!

This is their signature recipe
Mr. Gatti's Pizza with pepperoni, mushrooms, and green peppers
Unlike certain other pizza chains where it seems like the actual quality of the food is the last thing on anyone’s mind, Mr. Gatti’s Pizza takes pride in its food. More than that, they expect their patrons to actually be able to sit down and enjoy their pizza without hustling them out the door. Because of that dedication to quality and service, the recipe for Mr. Gatti’s Pizza actual pizza is pretty impressive.

Well, not that Mr. Gatti’s Pizza actually gives out their own recipe for their delicious pizza, as that would reveal a central component of their business. However, they do make it clear that their food isn’t just made cheaply or easily. According to the Mr. Gatti’s Pizza website, their sauce is made from “tomatoes fresh-packed four hours from harvest”, while their pizzas are topped with “smoked Provolone cheese reminiscent of the flavor our customers grew up with.” Sounds like the perfect complement to some pepperoni. Finally, their pizza dough is made by hand every single day, meaning that hungry diners will get the best-quality pizza dough and none of that stuff that’s been chilling in a fridge for days. 

How Mr. Gatti’s Pizza got into the game business
Children playing skeeball in a game arcade
Now, as delicious as the pizza at Mr. Gatti’s Pizza may be, that isn’t the only reason people frequent the chain restaurant. As anyone who got to visit a Mr. Gatti’s Pizza as a child surely knows, the games at the establishment were probably the best part of a meal there. However, Mr. Gatti’s Pizza didn’t always feature games and it wasn’t until years after the first Mr. Gatti’s opened in Austin, Texas that the game rooms made their debut.

Specifically, according to the Mr. Gatti’s Pizza website, it wasn’t until the 1980s that a few Mr. Gatti’s Pizza locations built “state-of-the-art game rooms, beginning an evolution that eventually led to a 25,000 square-foot superstore that devotes 10,000 square feet to a colossal Midway-type game room.” By 1994, more and more Mr. Gatti’s Pizza places began to feature an attached game room, kicking off a beloved feature of many modern Mr. Gatti’s locations. There’s really nothing quite like enjoying a slice of pizza while having a Pac-Man competition with your best friend or utterly crushing the competition at skeeball. If nothing else, the flashing lights and loud noises of the games are plenty exciting for energetic young children. Mr. Gatti’s Pizza totally understands that.

Mr. Gatti’s Pizza focuses on a particular market
Family eating at Mr. Gatti's Pizza
As a chain restaurant, Mr. Gatti’s Pizza obviously has the ability to open plenty of franchises. However, they must think carefully about their budget and existing fanbases, meaning that Mr. Gatti’s franchises currently only open in certain areas of the United States. Sadly, if you live too far up north, that means you probably don’t have a Mr. Gatti’s Pizza near you.

As the Mr. Gatti’s Pizza website states, anyone interested in opening up a new Mr. Gatti’s Pizza franchise needs to know that it’s important to be strategic about location. According to the company’s own research, there are currently a few particular states where a Mr. Gatti’s Pizza is most likely to succeed. That focus lands pretty heavily on the American South, with a few additional markets in the West and Midwest. Not only does the state matter when considering a new franchise, but so, too, does its city. According to the company website, a Mr. Gatti’s Pizza franchise can only really thrive in a city with a population between 60,000 and 250,000. The company also looks for communities where the average household income lands between $55,000 and $80,000. Basically, the Mr. Gatti’s Pizza market is focused on the South and Midwest, in cities and towns with a large population of working-class families. Hopefully, that will give them a chance to land amongst some of the best pizza places in those states.

Mr. Gatti’s Pizza was bought by another company
Mr. Gatti's Pizza
Though Mr. Gatti’s Pizza had been around for quite some time, in the modern age, they decided that the restaurant needed a kind of makeover to appeal to more customers. Though Mr. Gatti’s Pizza had seen plenty of success during its decades-long run, in 2015 it was purchased by another company to help Mr. Gatti’s Pizza continue its business in the best and most profitable manner yet.

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Mr. Gatti's Pizza, LLC