Pizza Shuttle makes employee-owned change as founder sells

The founder and co-owner of Pizza Shuttle in east Milwaukee is selling the business after nearly 40 years to his employees.

Pizza Shuttle will join a growing nationwide effort as the National Center for Employee Ownership reports nearly 6,500 businesses are now employee-owned.

Amid the “big resignation”, they hope the change will help with staff retention and recruitment of employees.

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Ask any chef or restaurant owner: the recipe for success is not only in the ingredients, but also in the people.

“Everyone has the same goal – it’s fun, cooking and going home, you know?” said Mark Gold. “They don’t want to come to a place that’s not fun. And that’s why we keep people. It’s hard work.”

This work has become more intriguing. After 37 years, Gold takes a step towards retirement, but he does not sell Pizza Shuttle to the highest bidder.

“We’re a staple in Milwaukee, and they didn’t want to just close the doors or sell it to someone who would completely change it or not care,” said Jessica Gold, the restaurant’s general manager.

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Thanks to an investment from New York-based “Teamshares”, Pizza Shuttle will transition to an employee-owned business. It will phase out Gold and its partners over time and give employees ownership through stock and annual profit-based dividends.

“They want these people, who otherwise wouldn’t be lucky enough to own a business, to be part of it, and that comes with a lot of education,” Mark Gold said.

It’s a powerful gesture to say “thank you” to those who helped make Pizza Shuttle a staple in Milwaukee, something her daughter hopes to continue.

“I think those core people are really what make it work, and they bring the personality. They’re Pizza Shuttle,” Jessica Gold said.

The objective is to increase employee share ownership to 50% within 10 years, then to 80% thereafter. And the restaurant is hiring; anyone interested can apply online or in person.