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Business Feature: Little Caesars, McMinnville

By Ty Walker, Contributing Writer
Photos by Kara Langley

For Cody Chambers, childhood was short growing up in Silverton. He was a young 16-year-old teenager when he started working as a dishwasher at a Little Caesars in Salem.

Then he got a wakeup call. “I had a child at 17,” Chambers said. “That’s what gave me the drive.”

Suddenly having a young daughter and family to provide and care for gave him the push to work harder. He didn’t want extra spending money to go to the mall. He had bigger things to worry about. He had other human beings who depended on him.

Through hard work and determination, he found his niche in Little Caesars Pizza. In just 13 years, he climbed his way up the carry-out pizza chain, from washing dishes on Lancaster Drive in Salem to owning his own franchise on Highway 99W in McMinnville.

He quickly learned everything there was to know about the business of tossing pizza with homemade dough and worked his way up the Little Caesars ladder. He became a general manager by his 20s.

In each of the last six years under his leadership, the Salem store won a prestigious Little Caesars award for skyrocketing pizza sales. When the opportunity to own the franchise in McMinnville came along, he took it.

In May 2022, at the age of 30, Chambers became the proud owner of the McMinnville Little Caesars. His wife of seven years, Laina, partner in life and business, is co-owner.

“I started as a teenager and worked my way up,” he said. “Became manager. Didn’t quit all the times I wanted to. Stayed the course. Became owner of my own store now. It’s kind of like a fairy tale story, a little bit.”

Chambers shows no signs of slowing down at 31. He has ambitions of owning four or five Little Caesars franchises some day. For now, he’s focused on running his business with 16 to 20 employees in McMinnville.

He and his family — which includes Laina and three kids Kiley, Kolton and Kalvin — live in Laina’s hometown of Independence. But they’re looking to move closer to work and become more involved in the McMinnville community.

“One of my requirements? I want to be able to go hunting in my own backyard,” Chambers said.

Laina said she’s OK with that as long as she gets to pick out the house and be in charge of the inside decor.

Laina is the charismatic face of the business, Chambers said. She takes care of the charitable programs and promotions. The business donates to Damian Lillard charities, gives pizzas regularly to local police and fire stations and supports local schools.

Chambers said he likes the McMinnville community and finds it more family-oriented than Salem.

Little Caesars Logo (PRNewsFoto/Little Caesars)

Little Caesars Pizza is located at 508 Pacific Highway West, OR-99W, McMinnville. The carry-out chain features hand-tossed pizza with homemade dough, and chicken wings and breadsticks. Hours are 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week.