Blackjack Pizza was founded in 1983 by Vince Schmuhl. After working several years for Dominos Pizza, the founder felt that there was plenty of room for competitors in the fast growing pizza delivery business. At that time, Dominos Pizza was the only major player in the pizza delivery business in the Rocky Mountain region and he felt that customers would really appreciate an alternative to Dominos Pizza.
The first Blackjack Pizza store was opened on June 29, 1983 in Federal Heights, CO. The second store opened in Greeley, CO in February of 1984. Vince continued to open new stores, mainly in the Denver Metro Area. By 1986, there were six corporate owned stores and one franchisee in operation.
In 1988, Blackjack officially became a franchisor using the concept of an owner/operator franchisee at each store location. Several corporate stores were sold to franchisees, and other franchisees were added to the system through conversions of independent operators who saw the value in being part of Blackjack Pizza. We have continued to add franchise outlets to the system under a policy of slow, controlled growth. Today there are 45 stores in operation in four states.
What made us think that we could compete with national chains? It’s been said that if you don’t have a competitive advantage — a compelling reason for customers to call you rather than your competitor — then you should not compete. Dominos Pizza has built its business on fast service. Almost everything they do has one purpose in mind; to get the pizza to the customer as quickly as possible. The 30 minute guarantee was their trademark. We knew we would have to match the 30 minute service standard set by Dominos if we wanted to have any chance at all of surviving in this business. We began by designing our system to provide our customers with the quickest possible delivery service.
With delivery times about the same, why would customers call Blackjack Pizza instead of Dominos? Two reasons: 1 – our pizza tastes better (better quality) and 2 – our pizza is a better value (it costs less). One of our earliest advertising tag lines was “Better Pizza, Better Price” and that still holds true today.