In the midst of moving back to his hometown of Columbus, Kevin King ’86 talks about everything from his favorite pizza to his favorite prof
BY DONNA BOEN ’83, MTSC ’96, MIAMIAN EDITOR
Can’t decide the best way to revive your leftover pizza?
Kevin King ’86 says skip the microwave and heat up a skillet. This will warm it through while keeping the crust crisp. Be careful, though, because you can burn the bottom if the skillet is too hot.
You can trust Kevin on this. He’s been making pizza since he was 14 and started on the operations side of the business right after he graduated as a management major from Miami.
On Jan. 4, he became Donatos president, rejoining the company where he worked from 1990 until 2003, starting in the franchising department and then serving as vice president of development.
He’s thrilled to be returning to the company’s home office in Columbus, where he grew up. Among the folks he’s joining are three other Miamians: Carolyn Cullers Butler ’83, a mass communication major, who works in brand marketing; Glenn Kantak ’84, an accountancy major, who is manager of Business Insights; and Doug Kourie ’85, another accountancy major, who is Donatos’ chief financial officer.
With visions of a thin slice Pepperoni (with extra Provolone) dancing around in her head, MIAMIAN Editor Donna Boen ’83, MTSC ’96 asked Kevin to share a few fun insights.
Q: What’s your favorite Donatos pizza?
A: It changes. Currently, it’s either our new cauliflower crust Pepperoni and Peppers or the Donatos family recipe sausage and onions on a cauliflower crust.
Q: And your top seller?
A: It’s the same today as when Jim Grote started the family-owned company in 1963. The pizza that put us on the map is a large, thin crust with at least 100 pieces of heritage pepperoni piled Edge to Edge on top of smoked Provolone cheese.
Q: Busiest day of the year? I’m guessing the Super Bowl.
A: While the Super Bowl is the busiest day for a lot of our competitors, every Friday night for us is our busiest. From family dinners, movie nights, sporting events, and gatherings of friends, our Friday nights keep us hopping.
Q: What is the No. 1 requested topping and crust?
A: Pepperoni is definitely No.1 with sausage coming in second. As for crust types, our thin is far and away our bestseller, but second and growing in popularity is our cauliflower crust, which comes in ahead of even our hand-tossed.
Q: Tell me the oddest ingredient ever requested.
A: The beautiful thing about pizza is it can accommodate almost any topping. There are many odd toppings around the world including corn and Spam. The toppings that we each choose are just like the differences that make each of us special as people — pizza can work with anything.
Q: Any tips on how to make a tasty one that my friends will devour?
A: First, ingredient quality is huge, and at Donatos, we abundantly top our pizzas to really highlight the flavor. Second, having the right oven is crucial and getting the oven hot enough is a big component.
Q: Are you good at making it?
A: I think I make a delicious pizza. I recently spent three days working in our stores, and that reminded me how awesome our operating system is so that almost anyone can make a great pizza. I was also reminded that speed takes time to master. The team in our stores had to politely push me aside since I wasn’t fast enough.
Q: Now for a few Miami-specific questions. Who was your favorite professor?
A: Sitting in Phil Shriver’s “History of Miami” class was the most memorable. Having the former president of Miami teach a class was pretty awesome and learning about the school’s history and heritage made my connection to Miami even deeper.
Q: What’s the best advice you received at Miami?
A: Get involved. It doesn’t matter what you get involved in. Miami has so many clubs, organizations, and sports that there is truly something for everyone. You will develop lifelong connections, and that will make your experience even better. Take on leadership roles and learn while in college. It pays off later.
Q: What was your favorite pizza place Uptown?
A: I am a pizza guy so I loved Bruno’s, especially after a few hours in CJ’s or the old Saloon.
Q: Will Oxford ever have a Donatos again?
A: For sure! I think as we continue to grow the brand [378 locations in 22 states], we will be back in Oxford. If anyone wants to own the store, I can definitely connect you with the right people on my team.
Q: What question are you asked the most?
A: As you know, people love pizza, and that is a great thing. What people always ask when they know I work for Donatos is “Can I have free pizza?” While I would love to give everyone a free pizza, our franchise partners might not like that.