I called Happy Joe's Pizza this past Tuesday to place a pickup order at their East Dubuque store. I hoped to enjoy their longtime family night special and a legendary Taco Pizza. So I was a little taken aback when told my pizza would be ready for pickup at the University Avenue, Dubuque store in twenty minutes.

Happy Joe's East Dubuque Location Photo Credit: Google Maps, Keith B. via Canva
Happy Joe's East Dubuque Location Photo Credit: Google Maps, Keith B. via Canva

The employee informed me that the East Dubuque store had closed nearly a year ago. I didn't inquire much further but assumed it was primarily due to a lack of workers, like many other restaurants and small businesses these days.

Such was the reason for the Happy Joe's restaurant closing in Maquoketa, Iowa. Its August closure cited a worker shortage as playing a significant role.

But it now appears the Midwest favorite may be hitting on tough times like so many other restaurants across the country.

Dynamic Restaurant Holdings, the parent company of Happy Joe's, filed for bankruptcy in early September. Dynamic also operates the much smaller Florida-based pizza chain Tony Sacco's. As a result, company-owned locations will be closing across both brands.

According to court documents, Happy Joe's had a net income loss of $1.2 million for the 2022 fiscal year. Additionally, the company reported assets of $1.9 million and liabilities of $2.5 million for 2022.

Beloved locally for its signature taco pizza, Happy Joe's had 42 locations across Iowa, Wisconsin, North Dakota, Illinois, Missouri, and Minnesota at the end of 2021.

A total of nine corporate-owned Happy Joe's and two Tony Sacco's restaurants are in the September 2 bankruptcy filing as being affected. Three Happy Joe's already closed their doors.

Photo Cedit: Google Maps, Keith B. via Canda
Happy Joe's - 855 Century Drive, Dubuque, Iowa. Photo Credit: Google Maps, Keith B. via Canva

But that doesn't mean the Dubuque Happy Joe's will close anytime soon. The bankruptcy will not affect franchised locations, which account for 90% of Happy's Joe's restaurants. The Dubuque locations are locally owned franchises and should not be directly impacted by the bankruptcy filing.

"I just don't want people to become scared," Happy Joe's CEO Tom Sacco. "We're going to be here another fifty years. Trust me."

"Happy" Joe Whitty founded the pizza chain in Davenport in 1972. The Dubuque franchise opened at 855 Century Drive in the mid-1970s and has delighted Dubuquers for generations.

Whitty died in 2019, and Happy Joe's fans can only hope that his legacy will continue to carry on and carry out for many more years to come.


Hiking Trails and Nature near Dubuque, Iowa

Nature and hiking areas around the Dubuque, IA area.

More From WDBQ-FM