Pacific resident Gene Dorenkamp has opened a Little Caesars hot and ready carryout pizza shop at 229 E. Fifth St. in Eureka.

The new business is a second career and the realization of a dream of a lifetime for the former defense manufacturing employee.

After being phased out of his job of 33 years with DRS Defense, Dorenkamp decided to go into business for himself.

“It was always a dream of mine to own my own business,” he said. After a brief job search he began to research franchise opportunities.

After several months of research, he chose Little Caesars, which he says is a high-quality franchise corporation.

“I talked with other Little Caesars franchisees,” he said. “I also sat in front of a Little Caesars from 3 to 10 p.m. and counted the number of boxes that went out the door.”

He applied for a Little Caesars franchise and the process — from approval, site selection, building renovation and training to operate and manage the store — took 18 months before the business was ready for opening day June 6.

In the beginning, the store will have 20 employees, but as the business is built out, the number of employees will grow to 35.

Dorenkamp said all three of his children — Benjamin, 23, Hannah, 21, and Ryan, 17 — will undoubtedly work at the store.

Hannah has helped with public relations and promotion for the grand opening.

The Eureka Chamber of Commerce hosted a ribbon cutting to officially open the business.

On opening day, the business still had to go through the final electrical, city and fire suppression inspections.

“The first day was extremely hectic,” Dorenkamp said. “We took a gamble that everything would pass the day before the opening and spent the day making dough and cooking sauces. Once the store opened at 11 a.m. we had three cash registers going nonstop until closing time.”

Employee training and orientation also paid off.

“All the employees did well for the opening,” Dorenkamp said.

Store hours are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. weekdays and 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.

Founded in 1959 in Garden City, Mich., today Little Caesars is the largest carryout pizza chain in the United States. It was started by a returning soldier who brought home the Italian pizza pie, a favorite of America.

For more information call 636-587-2599.