Almost two years ago, in August 2003, Sandy Ercegovic and Susan Hoefle decided to buy John Dough Pizza on 134th Street in the Key Center area. Why? Because they knew first hand how hard it was for area teen-agers to find jobs. This included their own three boys. Their sons Nick Ercegovic, Cisco Hoefle, both seniors at PHS, and Taylor Hoefle all work at the business they renamed as Jane Dough Pizza.
The idea grew to giving opportunities for employing other young men. Most of the crew are friends of their sons. There are now two girls working for them as well. Some of the young people learn how to make the “secret” dough recipe, how to whirl it above their heads, and finish with baking a delicious pizza. Others become the drivers.
This venture has been so successful, they purchased and opened a store in Purdy in July 2004. Hoefle works full time in the stores and Ercegovic fills in part time, as she has a full-time job in the office at Peninsula High School.
The business was the start of a vision for both of them. Ercegovic, a Lake Holiday resident for 13 years, and Hoefle, who has lived in the area about 10 years, felt they would like to give something back to their community. Both were already involved in volunteering at the local schools, particularly in the reading programs. That involvement grew into the “Read for Pizza” program at Evergreen Elementary. Students who read a certain amount of new books determined by their teachers receive a certificate for a free small pizza. This resulted in giving away a total of 75 pizzas.
That business principle led them to giving discounts to Vaughn, Minter, and Evergreen schools for parties and carnivals. Their discounts are at cost; the time involved is their employees’ donation. They also donated gift certificates to those schools, plus to KPMS to help raise money for their earthquake supplies after they lost most of them due to a break-in at the school, and to PHS Boosters.
They contributed to a young lady trying to earn money for a trip, and sponsored a family in need by supplying dinners for a month and collecting money for Christmas 2003 and 2004. The crew at the store donated gifts they bought for the families.
Currently the women are working with an animal shelter for spay/neuter/immunization for low-income pet owners by donating gift certificates: a free pizza slice for every dog or cat owner as an incentive for immunizations. The next project being considered is a “senior feed” to help the community outreach at the Civic Center.
Their business attitude is that they wanted people to know they cared and were an involved part of the Key Peninsula.
Ercegovic said, “Both Susan and I think it is important that a business give back to the community, not just take from it.”