Gail and Rodney Dahlman dreamed of relaxing and spending quality family time in their retirement.
They didn’t have a lengthy list of plans.
But they couldn’t walk away from the popular eatery they ran for two decades without finding the right couple to take over.
They have found that couple.
On June 30, the Dahlmans made their last pizza at the Payson Pizza Factory and handed the keys to the store over to Jake and Marcy Sheire.
“They’re a blessing,” Gail said. “We’ve been praying for them to come into our store. We knew we needed a young couple that cared about the community and the employees. Jake was raised in Payson and they were the perfect fit for us.
“They are about the same age we were when we started here. They’ve got the energy and stamina we don’t anymore.”
Energy is something they must have to continue to in the footsteps of the Dahlmans, who tossed plenty of pizzas in 20 years as owners of the restaurant voted Best Pizza in the Roundup’s Best of the Rim Readers Poll 19 times in 20 years.
“It’s been great to serve the community and meet so many people,” Rodney said. “Our customers are our friends. A lot of high school kids worked for us for their first jobs, so that was fun to see.”
Their daughters, Erin (Fitt), Renee (Sharman) and Megan (Woods) all worked for them and all three of their son-in-laws delivered pizza for them.
“It’s been a family business,” Gail said.
The Dahlmans plan to stay in Rim Country.
“We’re not going anywhere,” Rodney said.
They turned the operation over to the Sheires on July 1.
Jake grew up in Rim Country and graduated from Payson High School in 1995. He used to come to the Pizza Factory for lunch as a high school kid. He moved to Las Vegas in 2005 and lived there for 15 years, before he moved back to Payson with Marcy two years ago. He worked as the director of business development for a water treatment company in Las Vegas.
Marcy grew up in Wisconsin and worked for a different water treatment company, which is how they met. They’ve been married for five years. The Sheires have five kids and five grandkids.
They spent the last two years working at the store in preparation to take over. Jake worked as the general manager and Marcy as a manager.
“They taught us the ins and outs over the last couple of years,” Jake said. “They were very generous people and gave to the community. We want to continue that legacy.”
The Dahlmans were big supporters of local kids and their families.
“It’s been fun serving and giving back to the community,” Rodney said. “We supported kids. Whenever they came in and needed it, we tried to help them with a raffle or whatever and we supported the high school teams. There were a lot of fundraisers.”
Fresh ingredients were the key to Pizza Factory’s success. They made dough from scratch every day.
“We make everything from scratch,” Gail said. “And we put on a lot of toppings. And we’re known for our breadsticks.”
Jake said customers won’t notice much of a change.
“Everything is going to continue as normal,” Jake said. “We have a great product and we don’t want to fix anything that’s not broken.”
Marcy has worked in customer service for her entire career.
“We want to continue great customer service,” Jake said. “And we are focused on training high school kids. It’s a great job for high school kids to learn responsibility, accountability and respect.”
Jake’s first job was as a dishwasher at Mallard’s, located in Pine in the current location of That Brewery. He also worked at Subway in Payson.
It should be a smooth transition for employees as Jake’s been in charge of hiring and firing as general manager.
“The first year was just to train them and the second year was just for them to get more experience on their own and we let them run it,” Gail said. “Jake was able to develop a relationship with all the employees.”
The Pizza Factory is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday-Saturday and from noon to 9 p.m. on Sunday. They remain open for dine-in service. Customers are required to wear a mask until further notice. They removed half their tables as required to reopen to dine-in customers in May.
They continue to offer curbside pickup and contactless delivery. Call 928-474-1895 or order online at either payson.pizzafactory.com, via their Facebook page or on their free app, which features discounts and rewards.
The Sheires are the restaurant’s third owners. It was the first business to open in the Bashas’ Shopping Center, opening in February 1988 a week before Bashas’. Jack and Linda Chambers were the first owners. They owned it for 13 years.
Like the Dahlmans, the Chambers also were picky about who they sold the business to.
“It was the same thing as for us,” Rodney said. “They were praying for the same thing, someone who cared about the community.”
And they found that in the Dahlmans. Gail worked for the Chambers for four years before she and Rodney took over. “I did everything,” she said. “I was the day manager and did the scheduling, all that stuff.”
And she continued doing everything with Rodney for the next two decades.
The store featured 1,800 square feet of space when the Dahlmans took over. They expanded it to 3,250 square feet after adding 1,450 square feet when they added the space that formerly housed a jewelry store.
They’ll do some traveling. One of their destinations will be Hawaii, where Erin and Renee and their husbands and children live.
And they’ll also relax.
“We have no specific plans other than we want to rest,” said Gail with a laugh. “It’s a lot of work. But we loved every minute of it.
“We have mixed feelings because it was our home away from home. You work seven days a week and are on call all the time. It’ll be nice to have a normal schedule, whatever that is.”