Shakey’s Pizza was founded in Sacramento, California, on April 30, 1954, by Sherwood “Shakey” Johnson and Ed Plummer. Johnson’s nickname resulted from nerve damage following a bout of malaria suffered during World War II. The parlor opened on the first weekend, but since the pizza ovens were not yet completed, only beer was served and Shakey took the profits from beer sales and bought ingredients for pizza the following Monday. Shakey personally played dixieland jazz piano to entertain patrons. Shakey’s initially became known outside Sacramento, not for its pizza, but for the jazz program it sponsored on a regional radio network. Shakey Johnson is honored in the American Banjo Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, for his longtime use of banjo music at his pizza parlors. Other live music, including piano, was also a staple in the old Shakey’s parlors. The original store (a remodeled grocery store) at 57th and J Streets in Sacramento remained in business until the mid 1990s. Expansion
The second Shakey’s Pizza Parlor opened in Portland, Oregon, in 1956. Shakey’s opened their third parlor in Albany, Oregon, in 1959, which was the first building Shakey’s actually owned and the first building to be built in the distinct building style for which Shakey’s is known. It now operates as a used bookstore. According to Johnson, Shakey’s Pizza engaged in little market research and made most of its decisions on where to locate stores by going where Kinney Shoes opened stores. By the time Johnson sold his interest in 1967, there were 272 Shakey’s Pizza Parlors in the United States. The first international store opened in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, in 1968. By 1975, the company had expanded to the Pacific Rim, including Japan and the Philippines. There are now more branches in the Philippines (then under San Miguel Corporation) than in the United States. Sale to Colorado Milling
Shakey Johnson sold his half of the company for $3 million to Colorado Milling and Elevator in 1967, which acquired Plummer’s half for $9 million the next year.
Second sale Shakey’s was again sold, this time to Hunt International Resources in 1974. Two franchisees bought the chain in 1984 and they sold out to Inno-Pacific Holdings of Singapore in 1989. Most of the U. S. stores closed during the time Inno-Pacific owned the chain. Some of the remaining franchisees took Inno-Pacific to court in 2003. Before this could come to trial, Shakey’s was sold to Jacmar Companies of Alhambra, California, in 2004. Jacmar had been the franchisee of 19 Shakey’s restaurants. At the time Hunt International bought Shakey’s in 1974, the restaurant chain had approximately 500 stores throughout the United States, including a store as far east as Cockeysville, Maryland.
As of 2008, there were 63 stores total, with 55 of them in California. As of June 4, 2011, there are 58 Shakey’s restaurants in the US. 51 are located in California, the remainder are located in Auburn, Alabama; Nogales, Arizona; Warner Robins, Georgia; Waipahu, Hawaii; American Fork, Utah; Renton, Washington; and Spokane, Washington. Shakey’s has begun to open new franchises in new and existing territories. The most recent Shakey’s opened was in American Fork, Utah, with a buffet available open to close. Shakey’s in Iowa, Illinois and Northwest Indiana also featured an all day buffet in the 80’s. Other locations typically offer a weekday lunchtime buffet only.