By Natasha Emmons
Ron and Karen Ray built their Anacortes, Washington-based Pizza Factory franchise into a much-admired institution with a simple recipe: one part pizza, one part charity and a big dash of enthusiasm. Since the couple opened shop in 1989, they've won the hearts of customers by tossing dough at the community's youth. "There are just so many ways to help," says Ron Ray. "It's neat to own your own business and utilize it."
Ron, 41, and Karen, 35, were nominated for a Seattle television station's Pacific Northwest Good Works Award in 1996 for their work with the community Teen Center, which they co-sponsor with the local police department. The couple also sponsor several children's sports teams and have raised funds for elementary schools and the local Head Start program. On the wall of their restaurant hangs a letter of commendation from U.S. Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) alongside numerous articles that have been published in newspapers and magazines about their work.
Back at franchise headquarters, Pizza Factory Inc. proudly trumpets the Rays' success and helps out with advertising and printing of fliers. "We don't ask for help," says Ray, "but they are very supportive."