Founder of Mazzio's, Ken's pizza chains dies
BY TIM STANLEY World Staff Writer
Monday, May 14, 2012
5/14/12 at 3:08 PM
Ken Selby, a former Tulsa junior high science teacher who would go on to found Mazzio’s, one of the country’s largest pizza chains, died Saturday of complications from lung cancer.
He was 76.
Services are pending.
The original Mazzio’s, now known as Mazzio’s Italian Eatery, currently includes 165 restaurants in nine states.
As chairman of the board, Selby was still active with the Tulsa-based company, which last year celebrated its 50th anniversary.
Greg Lippert, Mazzio’s president and chief executive officer, said Selby was an inspiring figure.
“Ken was born to Depression-era parents; he was not a man of means when he came into this world or while growing up. He achieved what he did through sheer determination and hard work. The Ken Selby story is a uniquely American story,” Lippert said.
Selby opened his first restaurant in 1961 - the Pizza Parlor at 3024 East 11th St. in Tulsa.
Teaching at Tulsa’s Monroe Junior High School at the time, he previously had moonlighted as a cook at Pizza Hut, which at a $1 an hour supplemented his income.
While continuing his day job teaching, Selby ran the new restaurant by himself at night.
In 1965, Selby left Monroe to focus on pizza full time. The success of the first location led to a second, near 15th Street and Sheridan Road, and a name change - to Ken’s Pizza.
In the late 1970s, Selby changed the name again, this time to Mazzio’s, and made some other changes, including expanding the menu beyond pizza.
Inside of 10 years, Mazzio’s had more than 150 locations in multiple states, and the parent company began introducing other successful restaurant concepts, including Zio’s Italian Kitchen and Oliveto Italian Bistro.
He served on the boards of various local organizations, among them The Tulsa Foundation, Hillcrest Medical Center Foundation, Indian Nations Council of Boy Scouts, the Philbrook and Gilcrease museums and Holland Hall School.
Selby’s survivors include his wife, Debbie Selby of Tulsa; and five children, Lori, Susan, Julie, Eric and Beau Selby.
Read more in tomorrow's Tulsa World.
Ken Selby, chairman & CEO of Mazzio's Corp., stirs 60 gallons of alfredo sauce in Zio's at 71st Street and Mingo Road in June 2000. Selby died Saturday. Tulsa World photo
Ken Selby, founder and owner of Mazzio's Pizza, stands outside his first pizza restaurant Nov. 11, 1961. The store was later to become Mazzio's on 11th Street opposite the University of Tulsa. Courtesy