History of Little Caesar’s Pizza

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Little Caesar’s is one of the largest pizza chains in the United States. it also operates and franchises pizza restaurants internationally in the Middle East, Canada, Australia, Asia, the Caribbean, and Latin America. And although it only offers dine-in carry out option only, the pizza chain still remains to be the third-largest pizza restaurant in the country. Not only that, they also cater to people with restrictive diets like the gluten-free and keto. Let’s find out how this restaurant came to be.

Little Caesar’s Humble Beginning

Little Caesars Humble Beginning

The pizzeria was founded by Mike Ilitch and his wife Marian Ilitch in May 1959. Little Caesar’s first location was in a strip mall in Garden City, Michigan and back then it was named “Little Caesar’s Pizza Treat”. The pizzeria is known for its popular catchphrase, “Pizza! Pizza!” which was introduced in 1979 for their advertisement which featured their promo for two pizzas for the price of one.

At first, Little Caesar’s offered chicken, French fries, spaghetti, and of course, pizza. And during their first week on business, Mike and Marian Ilitch sold over 296 pizzas and they soon realized that offering a quality product at low prices was their key to success. Their business proved to be profitable and they managed to open a second restaurant in just two years. And by the end of the 1960s, Little Caesar’s had built and franchised over 50 restaurants including one in Canada. At first, Little Caesar’s offered a delivery service but during the 1970s, the company switched to carry out policy.

In 1971, Little Caesar’s began offering it two-for-one concept and made it a permanent feature of the company’s marketing campaign. This campaign forced competitors in some areas to copy their two-for-one offer.

What’s unique about Little Caesar’s pizza is that they use only natural ingredients like high-gluten flour pizza dough, grade A cheese and specially grown California tomatoes. They also pride itself of their use of all-natural spices compared to the synthetic flavorings which are used all over the pizza industry.

Rapid Growth and Expansion

Little Caesar’s continued its rapid growth and marketing innovation during the 1980s. The pizza chain had 226 units with sales of 63.6 million dollars. And their mid-decade annual sales had grown to 340 million dollars. Little Caesar’s achieved this successful expansion by market saturation, offering two pizzas for the price of one and their carryout only policy. Almost 98 percent of Little Caesar’s stores only 1,200 to a 1,800-square-foot unit which offered takeout only. This resulted to lower overhead and maintenance compared to the other pizzerias who offered sit-down and delivery-only service because their stores require fewer busboys, waiters, dishwashers, waitresses.

Little Caesar’s is a family business. Mike, Marian, and several of their children are involved in their business. Mike and Marian see to it that all of their seven children has a role in the success of the company. And in fact, the ties extended beyond the immediate family because almost 85 percent of Little Caesar’s franchisees are relatives which have as many as three generations who are involved in the business. Mike Ilitch also stated that the company’s vice-presidents all started out their work in the restaurants which also helped the company’s rapid growth.

Continued Expansion in the 21st Century

Continued Expansion in the 21st Century

The company’s innovative spirit continued into the 21st century with the introduction of the HOT-N-READY menu, designed to offer popular items for immediate carry-out. This included the Deep! Deep! Dish Pizza, introduced in 2013, along with a variety of other menu items like flavored Caesar Wings and different types of bread.

By 2017, Little Caesars had grown to 5,463 locations, including both U.S. and international units. The chain continues to expand globally, with outlets in countries across multiple continents.  Little Caesar’s can be located in countries such as Canada, Honduras, Mexico, Costa Rica, Guam, the Philippines, Panama, Jordan, Bahamas, Turkey, Egypt, Bahrain, Australia, and Guatemala.

Little Caesar’s also holds a special place in community and sports. The Ilitch family, which owns the chain, has been involved in various community initiatives, including the revitalization of Detroit. They have invested in projects like the Little Caesars Arena and other developments in the city. Additionally, Mike Ilitch, a former minor league baseball player, went on to own major sports teams like the Detroit Tigers and the Detroit Red Wings.

Little Caesar’s Fun Facts

Little Caesars Fun Facts

  • The pizzeria’s logo was first sketched on a napkin which was done by Don Silverstein when Little Caesar’s first opened their store in 1959.
  • Little Caesar’s were one of the first pizza chains to use a conveyor oven.
  • Little Caesar’s cannot use their famous catchphrase “Pizza! Pizza!” in Canada because there was already a pizza chain in Canada named Pizza Pizza when they launched their motto.
  • The had hired Bill Murray, chef Kerry Simon, and Eminem before they became famous.
  • Mike and Marian Ilitch own the Detroit Tigers and Detroit Red Wings.
  • Little Caesars owns a food truck which feeds the hungry for free.

Final Thoughts

Little Caesar’s remarkable transformation from a humble pizzeria in Garden City, Michigan, to an international franchise powerhouse is a story of strategic growth, innovation, and an unwavering commitment to core values. Mike and Marian Ilitch’s initial investment in 1959 was not just in a pizza store, but in a vision that revolved around providing high-quality, affordable food. Their early success, selling hundreds of pizzas in the first week, was a clear indication that they had tapped into a unique market demand.

Today, Little Caesar’s stands as a global brand, with thousands of locations worldwide, testament to its enduring appeal and successful business model. The company’s journey is a masterclass in how to grow a brand while staying true to one’s founding principles of quality, affordability, and innovative marketing.

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