Tyson Cook had never worked in a restaurant before starting Champ Pizza. But armed with a mixer and links to YouTube videos, he found his dough recipe. With his dough, passion for sports and dedication to quality ingredients, the restaurant boomed. Now, a sixth location in less than two years is soon to open in Milwaukie, Ore.
Cook, who also owns several local manufacturing companies with his business partner, always wanted to do something involved with sports.
“I love the mentality of sports,” Cook said. “I feel like there’s more of a drive when sports is involved.”
Cook graduated from Evergreen High School in 2009. He’s long wanted to give back to his high school and his community. The restaurant provides a free dinner for every high school team every season.
“This week alone, we will have done a team dinner every day for 50 to 100 kids, providing $300 to $500 worth of pizza,” he said.
Cook and his partner bought the first location, which was previously a Garlic Jim’s Famous Gourmet Pizza, at 1900 N.E. 162nd Ave. About a month after closing the sale on that location, the pair bought the Garlic Jim’s at 13317 N.E. 12th Ave. in Salmon Creek.
The locations were initially kept as Garlic Jim’s restaurants. But, Cook and his partner decided to break away and opened as Champ Pizza on Super Bowl Sunday in 2020.
Business improved from the days operating as a Garlic Jim’s franchise, and the growth continued. Since becoming Champ Pizza, the business partners bought a shop in Camas at 3252 N.E. Third Ave., built a shop near 8207 N.E. Vancouver Mall Drive and just bought two more stores in Milwaukie, Ore. The two don’t plan to stop there.
“I’m always looking for places,” said Cook. “Our plan has been to build this as big as we can.”
The expansions have been funded through cash flow, costing the partners only their existing investments.
Cook said Champ Pizza plans to stay true to its name and the community in providing a good-quality product.
“That’s one thing we’ve never wavered on,” said Cook. “We’ve never wavered on our quality and our products.”
Cook prioritizes quality ingredients, first with the creation of his dough and also with his other ingredients, like his buffalo-milk-based cheese.
After six Champ Pizza locations, Cook said his and his partner’s investments were worth it.
“We’ve really built it into a model of the champ mindset,” said Cook.
“It really works well with helping build people up to be able to do better in life,” said Cook, adding they strive to help their employees succeed not just in work but also in their personal lives.
“I could work 100 hours a week, no question,” said Cook. “I don’t feel like I work at all.”