Farragut couple wins international award

Farragut’s own Travis and Kirsten Hibbert, owners of Donatos Pizza Knoxville, recently earned 2023 Franchisee of the Year honor for “being an outstanding franchise establishment owner-operator” at the 64th Annual International Franchise Association Convention in Phoenix.

“This prestigious award recognizes the couple’s incredible customer service, operations and community engagement on the national level as Donatos Pizza franchisees,” said Betty Anne Richardson, franchise elevator and public relations account representative with IFA. “So far, the Hibberts run two very successful Donatos locations in Knoxville, where they serve delicious pizza and give back to the community.”

The locations are: 1012 Ebenezer Road in West Knoxville, which opened in August 2021, and 6738 Malone Creek Drive in Karns, opening in June 2023. Both locations are open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Sunday through Thursday, and from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Friday and Saturday.

“We were truly honored and proud to have received this award,” Travis said. “This recognition speaks volumes about the success and growth of our business.

“As owners, it reflects not only our dedication but our team’s dedication, hard work and commitment to upholding the standards and values of the Donatos Pizza Brand,” he added. “It showcases our ability to lead effectively, drive results and provide exceptional service to our customers.”

The Hibberts got into the pizza franchise business because of their love for pizza.

“First of all, we love pizza and we love franchising,” Jason said. “As current franchise owners of another brand, (General Nutrition Center), we wanted to diversify and try something new.

“Donatos is based out of Ohio, and one of our good friends from there recommended we try it,” he added. “When we were driving through Ohio, we stopped at one of their Donatos locations to give it a try. We fell in love not only with the pizza, but also the brand and everything it stood for.

“Donatos in Latin means ‘to give a good thing.’ That’s exactly what we strive to do, as we want to give a good thing to those around us and in our community. This is a huge part of our core values. Without the support of the community, we would not be where we are at today.”

The Hibberts have done fundraisers for schools and churches, as well as sponsorships and donations to various charities.

“We strive to make a positive impact on the lives of our customers and employees,” he said. “From a pizza standpoint, we feel what separates our product is our famous thin crust with an abundance of edge-to-edge toppings.”

“Franchisees of the Year exemplify what franchising is all about — providing opportunity, serving others and fulfilling the American dream,” said Matthew Haller, IFA president/CEO. “We are proud to recognize Travis Hibbert with the highest honor IFA awards to individual franchisees, and I have no doubt his work is changing lives and making a lasting community impact.”