Gattis of Pikeville Celebrates 40 Years

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November 21, 2017
    Mr. Gatti’s, “The Best Pizza in Town, Honest!” opened November 1977 on South Mayo Trail in Pikeville. Gatti’s Pizza is celebrating their 40th anniversary with a Customer Appreciation Celebration!
    Deborah Newsome Slone, the owner of Gatti’s Pizza, grew up in Pike County. One of nine children, she started working in the restaurant industry at age fifteen before later graduating from Virgie High School. Deborah attended Pikeville College on a Presidential Scholarship and continued to work at Gatti’s on and off while getting her degree in Psychology. When Deborah finished her internship and was hired at Mountain Comprehensive Care in Pikeville as a mental health therapist, she continued to work at Gatti’s at night. At the time, Gatti’s was owned by Holda Systems, the largest franchisee in the system. 
    Deborah went to work for Holda Systems as a manager in 1983, was promoted to Area Supervisor in 1984, and District Director for the Eastern Division of the company in 1985. Dorris Newton, owner of Holda Systems, told Deborah when she first entered management for his company, “If you continue to work this hard, you will own your own Gatti’s someday.” She really thought that was probably just something he said to everyone, but Mr. Newton offered Deb the opportunity to buy the Mr. Gatti’s in Pikeville in 1987. By then, she had succeeded in a very good job for a while, but was still a long way from having enough money to buy a business. Mr. Newton did something that still amazes her:  he co-signed her loan and she became the owner of the same Mr. Gatti’s in Pikeville that she started working at as a high-school student.
    Most of Deborah’s siblings, nieces, nephews, and a host of other family members have worked at Gatti’s over the years. Deborah is quick to point out she’s had a lot of help from her sister Connie Irick. Connie, like Deb, has worked at Gatti’s since high school and played a lot of roles in the management of Gatti’s over the years. She is currently the General Manager.
In 2002, Gatti’s began the Family Entertainment Center concept in some large cities.  When a furniture store closed and the property came up for sale, Debbie jumped on the chance and moved to the new location on Cassidy Blvd. 
    Gatti’s is currently a 23,000 sq. ft. facility.  The space includes areas to meet a variety of needs such as the Fun Flix Room featuring movies and shows for kids, the Café offering quiet dining with lots of windows and beautiful local photography by Sharon Slone. For sports fans, the WGTV room offers major sports games on the large TVs, while the multi-function Town Hall Meeting Room hosts business meetings and large parties. Gatti’s also has two additional private party rooms. The biggest, most exciting addition was the 9,000 sq. ft. Gattiland with state of the art games and attractions like Lazer Frenzy and Bumper Cars. The Gattiland game room is managed by Will Blackburn. Deborah says, “Even those visiting from Corporate Gatti’s say Will is the best game room manager in the system.”
    The Gatti’s Pizza in Pikeville has won numerous awards including Best in the Valley for several consecutive years. The most recent honor came when Deb was awarded Franchisee of the Year at the national convention in Fort Worth, TX. It’s not the first time she has won this designation.  She’s also been honored for serving more than ten years on the Franchise Advisory Board.
    When you look at Gatti’s involvement in the community and the many meaningful ways it makes an effort to give back, it is easy to understand that not only were sisters Deborah and Connie born and raised in eastern Kentucky, but their hearts, values, and work ethic remain true to the eastern Kentuckian spirit taught by their mother, Bertha Newsome.
    In April 2014, Deborah recruited and welcomed another valuable member to the team in Rachel Campbell-Dotson. Deb said she was looking for someone outside of operations to help promote Gatti’s and better connect to the community on a deeper level. Deborah says, “We certainly found what we were looking for—and more—in  finding Rachel. She shares the same volunteer, give-back spirit. I sure am grateful to have her.”
    Gatti’s community efforts include weekly donations to Grace Fellowship Community Kitchen to help feed the homeless and needy. Educational advancement and promoting literacy is another important outreach for Gatti’s.  The company provides bookmarks and incentives for students region-wide. Coats for Kids, March of Dimes, Senior Citizen Center support, and hosting two Central Kentucky Blood Center blood drives every year are also important. Back-to-School events, including free kids’ haircuts, hosted with other community partners at Gatti’s, has helped kids and families get ready for school. Rebate nights for non-profit organizations are too many to count. Gatti’s will soon be hosting the “Sensitive Santa” event for sensory sensitive children who can’t visit Santa in a regular public setting.  Gatti’s recognizes the contributions and value of other community members by providing Veterans with a complimentary meal every year. As a thank you to teachers for all their contributions to our children and our future, they too receive a complementary meal each year in May. A big focus at Gatti’s this year was Child Abuse Prevention and Awareness month in April. “Gatti’s Goes Blue” included hosting a pinwheel planting ceremony with state and local officials while feeding kids free all day to attract families to an education forum provided by Child Protective Services.
    Deborah said, “We at Gatti’s are really proud to be part of this region and appreciate that we’ve been blessed with forty years of success. We are looking forward to many more years of being what our new slogan promises, ‘The family pizza place, the whole family will love.’”