The founder of Happy Joe’s, Larry Joseph, grew up in a small town in Iowa and has always loved the restaurant industry. He worked at his parent’s bakery, a local pizza shop, and seafood and steakhouse before opening his first restaurant in 1972 at 21. The restaurant was called Happy Joe’s Pizza and Ice Cream Parlor, where the brand got its name. In 1974, the brand expanded to three more locations in Iowa. Then, in 1989, Larry retired, selling the company to a former employee named Brent Williams. Brent owned the company until it was sold to Leonard Green & Partners in 2014.




Happy Joe’s serves pizza, pasta, and ice cream, so the menu is straightforward. The brand has four signature pizzas on the menu and a rotating list of seasonal pizzas. The signature pizzas include the Meat Lovers, the Spinach Alfredo, the Hawaiian, and the Wisconsin 6 Cheese. The rotating seasonal pizzas at Happy Joe´s change every three months, including the Mexican, Barbecue Chicken, Taco, and Bacon Cheeseburger. Happy Joe’s also offers pasta dishes, including Meat Lovers, Alfredo, and Shrimp Scampi.




The successful American Pizza Parlor company currently operates 130 restaurants in the Northeast, Midwest, and Southeast. The majority of these restaurants are in Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin. Other states Happy Joe’s is currently in practice include Minnesota, Nebraska, Missouri, Indiana, and Florida.


Operational Strategies


Larry Joseph’s two main principles were quality and value, which Happy Joe’s American pizza parlor has kept with its pizza and ice cream offerings. It can keep costs down by purchasing ingredients in bulk and hiring part-time staff while maintaining high-quality products. The company uses minimal ingredients in its pizza dough to keep the costs low but still obtain the desired taste. It also uses fresh, low-fat ice cream to ensure customers aren’t getting too many calories with every scoop.