Donatos Pizza Franchise Costs, Fees & Owner Salary (2023)









May 2, 2024


Donatos Pizza

a franchise?

Donatos Pizza

Donatos Pizza was founded by Jim Grote in 1963 with a deep-rooted mission to serve the best pizzas, employ great people, and contribute positively to the community. The company, which began with a single pizzeria near The Ohio State University campus in Columbus, Ohio, started franchising in 1991. This move marked the beginning of its expansion beyond its original location, allowing the brand to grow its presence significantly.

The brand emphasizes high-quality ingredients and a menu designed to meet the demands for consistency, quality, convenience, and freshness. Donatos differentiates itself with a "Best on the Block" marketing strategy and a Fast Casual restaurant model that incorporates 5 Market Access Strategies, ensuring their franchised and company restaurants outpace the pizza industry in results.

The franchise story is unique; after its founding, Donatos was acquired by McDonald's in 1999, only for the founding family to reacquire it in 2003. Since then, Donatos has seen significant performance improvements and has prepared for national expansion.

Headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, Donatos is known for its Edge to Edge® pizzas, distinguished by their generous toppings and quality ingredients. This commitment to premium products, combined with the company's community-focused values, sets Donatos apart in the competitive pizza industry.

How many

Donatos Pizza


are there?

In 2022, there were
outlets in
the United
States, of which
are franchises, and
are corporate-owned.

What are the

Donatos Pizza



Advertising fee


Initial Franchise Fee ($30,000)

  • This fee is due upon signing the Franchise Agreement. It covers the rights to open and operate a Donatos Pizza Restaurant.

Licensing Fee (4% of Net Sales)

  • This fee is due weekly and is based on the Net Sales of the previous week. It covers the use of Donatos Pizza's Marks and operating system.

National Marketing Fund Contribution (5% of Net Sales)

  • This fee is also due weekly and is based on the Net Sales of the previous week. Franchisees are required to spend a total of 5% of their Net Sales each calendar quarter on advertising and marketing.

Software License Fee ($4,500)

  • This one-time license fee is for the TRIO Software, which is used in the restaurant. It is due prior to the installation of the software, which happens before the grand opening of the restaurant.

Training Fee (Greater of $15,000 or actual costs and expenses)

  • This fee is only applicable if this isn't the franchisee's first restaurant and they desire to receive the Opening Training. The fee is due within 15 days of the final calculation.

Transfer of Franchise Rights Fee ($15,000)

  • This fee is due upon the transfer of the Franchise Agreement or controlling ownership interest in the business entity franchisee to a new owner or partner who is not an existing franchisee.

Renewal Fee ($15,000)

  • This fee is due if the franchisee qualifies and elects to renew their franchise for a subsequent 10-year term.

Note: The fees presented here can be found in the Item 5 of the Franchise Disclosure Document. For a complete list of all the fees borne by the franchisee, please consult the Franchise Disclosure Document.

How much does

it cost

to start a

Donatos Pizza


It costs between
to start a
Donatos Pizza

The estimated initial investment for opening a Donatos Pizza franchise can vary, but for a clearer understanding, we've broken down the costs. The investment ranges from approximately $457,244 to $989,654.

This estimate encompasses various expenditures, from the initial franchise fee to training expenses and additional funds for the first three months. Below, you'll find a detailed table that provides a comprehensive overview of each expenditure type, the associated cost range, and the respective payee.

Type of Expenditure Amount
Initial Franchise Fee $30,000
Security Deposit Under Lease $2,000 to $11,000
One Month’s Lease Rent and Real Estate Expenses $2,000 to $11,000
Leasehold Improvements/Construction $35,500 to $454,000
Furniture, Fixtures, Equipment $297,244 to $346,154
Computer System $18,000 to $23,000
TRIO Software License Fee $4,500
Liquor License $0 to $10,000
Opening Inventory and Supplies $15,000 to $20,000
Grand Opening Marketing Program and Initial Marketing Expenses $25,000 to $30,000
Training Expenses $1,000 to $15,000
Miscellaneous Opening Costs $2,000 to $5,000
Additional Funds – 3 months $25,000 to $30,000
Total Estimated Initial Investment $457,244 to $989,654

Note: The table above provides a snapshot of the main costs associated with starting the most common franchise format (as disclosed in the Item 7 of the Franchise Disclosure Document). For a complete overview of all the expenses involved with the various formats offered by the franchisor, please consult the Franchise Disclosure Document.


Donatos Pizza



to its


Donatos Pizza

At the heart of Donatos Pizza's franchise support is their comprehensive training program. Designed for up to three individuals, including the Designated Principal and possibly the district manager or general manager, this program ensures that every franchisee is well-equipped to run their store.

The curriculum is extensive, covering everything from operations and guest service to marketing and IT.

The duration of the training varies, tailored to the class size and the pace of material coverage. Most of the hands-on training and classes take place at approved locations, often including Donatos Pizza's home office.

Donatos Pizza is a firm believer in continuous growth and development. They offer advanced and refresher training programs, ensuring that franchisees and their teams are always at the top of their game.

And while the initial training programs come at no extra charge for franchisee owners, it's essential to note that other related expenses, like transportation, lodging, and meals, fall on the franchisee.


Donatos Pizza




Each Restaurant is assigned to a specific location (the "Site"). This assignment is either made at the time of the execution of the Franchise Agreement or within one hundred eighty (180) days. Relocating the Restaurant from the Site requires prior written approval from the franchisor.

Typically, the franchisor does not grant a relocation of a Restaurant during the term of the Franchise Agreement. However, exceptions might be made in cases such as catastrophic events or loss of occupancy rights to the approved site through no fault of the franchisee.

For those entering into a Development Rights Agreement, the designated Territory is defined based on various factors. The size of the Territory is primarily determined by the number of Donatos Pizza Restaurants the franchisee agrees to develop, the market, other characteristics of the Territory, and demographic factors. The Territory is usually an entire city or county, depending on the area's urban or rural nature.

Can a

Donatos Pizza


be run as

a passive


Donatos Pizza emphasizes the importance of active management in their franchised units. Every franchise owner, regardless of their level of involvement in daily operations, must complete a specific training program.

Additionally, for daily restaurant operations, there should be at least one manager-level personnel staff member on-site who has completed the Operational Management Training or is a Manager in Training.

If Donatos Pizza determines that a restaurant manager hasn't satisfactorily completed the current training curriculum for their position, the franchisee is expected to hire a substitute manager who must then complete the necessary training to the company's satisfaction.

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