TAMPA, Florida – March 21, 2013 – Jim Hearn, 71, a Palm Harbor resident since 1982 died from a sudden illness on Tuesday. Jim Hearn was the founder of Hungry Howie’s Pizza & Subs. “It was a complete shock,” said Barry Devine, Director of Marketing for Hungry Howie’s. “He had just beaten cancer with his usual unassuming manner and great sense of humor. This illness came out of no where.”
Hungry Howie’s Pizza and Subs is the nation’s 11th largest pizza company. Hungry Howie’s grew from the small hamburger joint that Jim Hearn purchased in 1973 in Taylor, Michigan to over 200 Florida locations & 550 locations nationwide with two food distribution centers in Florida and Michigan today. “What may surprise people most about Jim”, Devine continued, “is that if a North Pinellas resident has ordered pizza from Hungry Howie’s in the past 30 years, there is a very good chance that Jim delivered one of those orders. His office was a pizzeria and his board of directors were his customers. Up until his final Friday rush, Jim would be found making pizzas and helping out with deliveries from one of several Hungry Howie’s locations in north Pinellas.”
Long time friend and franchisee in Seminole, Kevin Green said of Jim: “The one thing Jim insisted upon all of his franchisees was that we work, and work hard in our units. Making pizzas and exceeding customer expectations is not done behind a desk and Jim always reminded us of that by example.” Another original franchisee in Lakeland, Terry Morrow remembered, “He would just show up. It could be 10:30 on a Tuesday night and he would come in and begin to help and talk. If he stayed till close he’d help mop my floors.”
When announcing his death to the Hungry Howie’s franchise and corporate associates the company stated, “Jim was an acquaintance to some, a friend to most and family to many. A great number of us owe what we are today to his kindness and wisdom.”
Jim Hearn was raised in Dearborn, Michigan outside of Detroit and started Hungry Howie’s Pizza & Subs in Taylor in 1973. Nine years and about a dozen units later he fulfilled his lifelong dream and moved to Clearwater. With him he brought his personal formula for success. In 1986, Hearn and others began their own food distribution company with warehouses in Michigan and Florida to serve the growing franchise network. It was right about this time that Hearn created the Hungry Howie’s niche that would forever separate it from all the others, FREE Flavored Pizza Crust.
“He was the most interesting man I have ever known,” said Devine as he began to reflect. “Some of our most interesting and productive meetings occurred in his van while he was delivering pizzas. It is good to know that he taught his two daughters, Jennifer and Julie those same unassuming qualities and work ethic as they begin to fill their father’s large but humble shoes.”
Hungry Howie’s is a former Pizza Today Chain of the Year recipient.