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Sterling Heights

July 26, 2013

Jet’s Pizza locally celebrates 300th store

By Eric Czarnik
C & G Staff Writer

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John Jetts has plenty of reasons to throw a pizza party.

As the co-founder and the vice president of marketing of Jet’s Pizza, Jetts has been celebrating a couple of major business milestones recently. The business, which opened its first store in Sterling Heights, is celebrating its 35th anniversary this year. In addition, it operates stores in 16 states, and it recently opened its 300th store, which is located in Missouri.

Although much has changed from the time Jet’s first opened in 1978, Jetts said his company serves the same deep dish, square “Detroit-style” pizza that it did more than three decades ago. He said the company’s philosophy is to stick to the basics, using the same products for its sauce, cheese and pepperoni.

“From day one — that was back in the ’70s — round pizza was being pushed a lot,” he said. “Our goal was to build that deep dish. The eight-corner pizza has been our hottest pizza out there.”

Growing up, Jetts said he and his older brother, Eugene Jetts, lived at 16 1/2 Mile Road, between Dodge Park and Van Dyke. “I went to school at Stevenson High, and Eugene went to school at Utica High,” he said.

When the two Jetts brothers decided to enter the pizza business, John Jetts was 18 and had just graduated high school. According to John Jetts, the brothers opened their first spot on 14 Mile Road, east of Ryan Road, in Sterling Heights because a landlord let them lease out space despite their young ages.

The initial workload took up many, many hours, John Jetts said. “We kind of split the duties of it, but we were working day and night together,” he said. “Our main focus was to get to the kids and the schools because the kids would bring the family back.”

About 600 out of the first store’s 1,200 square feet were originally devoted to pizza, while the rest was devoted to party store fare, John Jetts explained. That changed as business kept growing.

“Five or six years later, we decided to remove the beer, wine and all that,” he said. “We needed room.”

As the company expanded, it soon gained other locations in Sterling Heights. Eight years after Jet’s was founded, a second store opened near 15 Mile Road and Schoenherr, and then a third store opened by 16 Mile Road and Dequindre, John Jetts said. He said his cousins, Jeff Galloway and Jim Galloway Jr., also joined the leadership team.

Today, the company still keeps its leadership close to home, and its corporate headquarters is located north of 16 Mile and Mound roads in Sterling Heights.

To celebrate its cumulative success, Jet’s planned to thank its customers July 27 by offering free pizza slices at its original store location in Sterling Heights. Shane Rutkowski, a store manager who has worked at Jet’s Pizza for eight years, said before the free slice day that he still wasn’t sure how many pies he’d be serving to the public for the occasion.

“I’m sure we’ll have a lot,” he said.

Learn more about Jet’s Pizza at www.jetspizza.com.