Although few people in Britain will know the name of Tom Monaghan, there are fewer still who will not know the name of Domino’s Pizza, the global restaurant chain which he founded. And yet the story of Tom Monaghan’s life and faith is astonishing, almost beggaring belief.
He was born on March 25, 1937, the feast of the Annunciation, and his is a rags-to-riches story, the very stuff of which the American Dream is made. Raised in Michigan, in America’s Midwest, not far from Detroit, Monaghan lost his beloved father as a child and was then abandoned by his mother. Having spent his childhood in an orphanage and later in a succession of largely loveless foster homes, he was forced to abandon his hope of a college education because of his inability to meet the cost. Seeking a desperate escape from his dead-end life, he joined the Marines, lapsing for a while from the practice of the Catholic faith which had been instilled in him by the nuns who ran the orphanage.
Upon leaving the Marines, he lost all the money he had painstakingly saved by investing it with a conman in a bogus business deal. Penniless, he hitch-hiked across the United States from California to Michigan, a distance of more than 2,000 miles, roughly equivalent to that between London and Ankara in Turkey.
In 1960, still only 23 and following his entrepreneurial instincts, Monaghan bought a local pizza restaurant. He met his wife in 1961, while delivering pizza on a college campus, and they were married the following year, being later blessed with four daughters.
Although Domino’s Pizza would have its setbacks and near disasters – it was brought back from the brink of bankruptcy more than once – it would eventually become the fastest-growing restaurant chain in the world, blazing a trail for the burgeoning pizza delivery business and capturing at one point more than half of all pizzas delivered in the US. By the mid-1980s, Domino’s was the seventh-largest restaurant chain in the world and the largest privately owned one.
For the former neglected child and penurious youth, these were heady days. He had more money than he could ever have imagined and succumbed to a habit of reckless spending. “I started to relax a little too much financially,” he would later confess. “I realised I could afford virtually anything I wanted and I got carried away.”
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