Hungry Howie’s Flavored Crust a Polk Favorite

Hungry Howie’s Flavored Crust a Polk Favorite

By Marialice Quinn

The Hungry Howie’s story began in 1973 when Jim Hearn converted a 1,000 square foot hamburger shop in Taylor, Michigan, into a successful carry-out and delivery pizzeria. Jim’s partner, Steve Jackson, started out delivering pizzas for Hearn.

In 1982, Jackson and Hearn decided to franchise Hungry Howie’s and in January, 1983, they awarded their first Hungry Howie’s franchise.

Jack Cleghorn joined the Hungry Howie’s family buying his first franchise in 1986. He now has eight franchises – six in Polk County and two in Osceola County. “Some partners and I owned a building that Hungry Howie’s leased from us,” said Jack. “I saw a strong potential for Hungry Howie’s in Lakeland, and I’m glad to say I wasn’t wrong.”

With 18 Polk County locations and various franchise owners, Hungry Howie’s has proven to be a Polk favorite. Combine a great pizza with fresh ingredients, a family-oriented business, and Hungry Howie’s famous flavored crust and you have the recipe for success.

“This business is totally family oriented from the top down,” said Jack, “and all of our families have grown up with us being in the business. Many of our children grew up in the Hungry Howie’s kitchen making their own pizzas – mine included. We have a lot of family members who work in the stores for their parents, brothers and sisters; and they go on to open their own stores.”

“We are also a family of franchise owners,” explained Jack. “Most of our local owners have been with Hungry Howie’s for a long time. We all know each other and work together to ensure that Hungry Howie’s is the most consistently good pizza you can buy in Polk County.”

In 1992 local franchise owner, Tarek Kazbour, started running a Wednesday-only special that he named Wacky Wednesday. Customers could purchase a large pepperoni pizza for $3.99 – only for carry out and only on Wednesday. “We were trying to increase business by bringing customers in twice a week,” said Jack, “once on the weekend, which is thought of more as pizza day for the families, and then adding once during mid-week.”

Twenty years later, Kazbour’s Wacky Wednesday special is still available throughout the chain. Now, customers can get a large cheese pizza for just $4.99 – only for carry out and only on Wacky Wednesday.

Hungry Howie’s is the Original Flavored Crust Pizza, with eight great flavors to choose from: sesame, butter cheese, butter, ranch, Cajun, garlic herb, onion, original.

“At Hungry Howie’s, we do things different than other major chains,” said Jack.  “We still make our own dough fresh every day in our own stores, and every pizza is made fresh to order.  We use only 100% real Wisconsin mozzarella cheese and top it with the finest of ingredients.”

Hungry Howie’s also gives your family a variety of meals from which to choose; so there’s something for everyone with fresh, crisp salads, Howie wings, oven-baked subs, Howie bread and oven-baked pasta.

“We have a location in every small town in Polk County,” said Jack. “They are all locally owned and operated, and our family of owners and staff support their communities in many different ways.”

“All of our 18 Polk County locations recently participated in Hungry Howie’s annual Love, Hope & Pizza campaign to raise funds for breast cancer research,” said Jack. “Last year we raised about $16,000; and this year we’re hoping to raise more than $25,000.”

To find the Hungry Howie’s location closest to you, visit

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