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Here’s a textbook example of the American Dream: in 1998, then-17-year-old Daniel Dailey washed dishes at Johnny’s New York Style Pizza in Woodstock. After advancing from cook to manager to partner over the next 22 years, he purchased his second Johnny’s Pizza location at 1810 Cheshire Bridge Rd NE on January 1.
“I knew that one day I was going to own and operate my own business, I just hadn’t discovered my passion for food and people. From 17 years old to 23 years old I worked hard to learn every position in the restaurant,” Dailey told What Now Atlanta.” [At 26 years old], I bought a 45 percent partnership… I maxed out every card I had and took out credit card loans. I didn’t really tell anyone—I wasn’t proud and I didn’t want attention… I put in a lot of hours, work, tears and late nights. I grew sales to the limits of the location. In 2012 I talked my business partner into selling our second location that was struggling with the plan to relocate the Woodstock location somewhere larger so we could make the kitchen larger and add a full bar. In 2013, all of the hard work paid off—we opened and never slowed down.”
But 45 percent, ultimately, wasn’t enough. In 2016, Dailey opened his own Johnny’s Pizza location in Roswell at 550 W Crossville Rd. Upon joining forces with co-owner Jimmy Caviness, who had worked in the Johnny’s Pizza universe for 13 years but did not cross orbits with our intrepid pizzanaut until 2021. Then, the pair closed on the most recent Atlanta location.
Funnily enough, the new building has been a Johnny’s Pizza location for 42 years—Dailey and Caviness will be the first franchisees outside of the original franchise founder’s family. The building will remain more or less unchanged, save for repairs to its sizeable outdoor patio to protect future diners from the rain and to allow for some “comfortable and covid-friendly heating outside.”
In a metropolitan area with pizza joints as plentiful as stars in the sky, Dailey said that the secret to a parlor that’s out of this world is community outreach.
“It’s been communication—in good times [and in] bad times, I respond to every email that I get [and] I reply to every review that I get online, whether it be Yelp! or Google or Facebook,” said Dailey. “If we had a really busy night and delivery times were slow, I’ll send out an email to let everyone know whats going on. If we have a good response from marketing, I let people know we appreciate the patronage and support. We try to pay it forward and give back to the community—we always get involved in the football programs in the different schools. When school was out, we linked up with a program that was feeding kids in need.”
Even after years of compounded successes, Dailey said his pizza galaxy is still expanding.
“The goal is to have at least one or two more [restaurants] in a year or two,” said Dailey. “I’d like to own several but I’m not going to bite off more than I can handle until I have the right team in place to do it.”