The late Joe Whitty (left), founder of Happy Joe's, would have been 84 on September 10.

Happy Joe Whitty’s Dream Comes True With Global Expansion

  • Happy Joe’s Pizza & Ice Cream has signed a deal to develop at least 25 locations in Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and other countries.
  • CEO Tom Sacco said the agreement is “among the most exciting moments in our brand’s history.”

Related: Happy Joe’s plans to open 1,000 new stores

Founder Joe Whitty dreamed of making Iowa-based Happy Joe’s Pizza & Ice Cream a global brand. Sadly, he didn’t live to see it happen—he passed away in 2019—but that dream is finally coming true for his company, thanks to a master franchise agreement with H.J. Happy Joe’s for Restaurants LLC, which will open multiple new restaurants throughout the Middle East and North Africa.

The company announced today that Master Franchisee Ahmed Elbatran will lead a group developing or sub-franchising at least 25 Happy Joe’s locations in Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates over the next 10 years. The first few locations are set to open in Cairo, then Happy Joe’s will expand to other cities in Egypt. As stores open in Middle Eastern and North African countries, Happy Joe’s will have the potential to operate between 50 and 75 stores across the region, according to a press release.

“Inking this deal was among the most exciting moments in our brand’s history,” said Happy Joe’s CEO Tom Sacco. “I expect this expansion to springboard Happy Joe’s into South Africa, Europe, Asia and Australia. We look forward to working with Ahmed as Happy Joe’s prepares to scale new heights globally.”

Whitty opened the first Happy Joe’s Pizza & Ice Cream Parlor in Davenport, Iowa, in 1972. Currently owned and operated by Dynamic Restaurant Holdings, it’s a kid-friendly, family-centric chain focused, as the name suggests, on pizza and ice cream. There are presently 46 Happy Joe’s stores throughout the Midwest.

The company has also signed a deal to develop the entire state of Arizona for a total of 20 units.

Happy Joe’s Middle Eastern Master Franchisee Ahmed Elbatran and family members

As the master franchisee for the Middle East and North Africa, Elbatran will attract, train and support Happy Joe’s franchisees, as well as develop and manage his own restaurants. The overseas locations will feature Happy Joe’s signature pizzas, breakfast pizzas and dessert pizzas while adding local favorites that incorporate seafood and chicken.

“Happy Joe’s is so much more than just a delicious pizza restaurant, and I can’t wait for people in this part of the world to experience a place where kids and families create and celebrate memorable moments together,” Elbatran said. “Pizza delivery is widely popular in Egypt, and we’ll offer it, but nothing in this area compares to the magical dine-in atmosphere at Happy Joe’s. We’re proud to introduce this iconic brand to the Middle East and continue growing it throughout the region.”

Whitty sold his stake in Happy Joe’s to Dynamic Restaurant Holdings before he died in October 2019. Sacco, a restaurant industry veteran, came on-board as Happy Joe’s CEO a year later.