|Founded||Garden City, Michigan, U.S. (May 8, 1959)|
|Headquarters||2211 Woodward Avenue
Detroit, Michigan, U.S.
|Key people||Michael Ilitch (Owner)
Marian Ilitch (Owner)
David Scrivano (President)
|This section requires expansion with: Early years. (January 2011)|
Little Caesars Pizza was founded by husband and wife Mike and Marian Ilitch on May 8, 1959. The first location was a strip mall in Garden City, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit. Mike wanted to call it simply "Pizza Treat," but Marian wanted a name that suited him more. Marian considered Mike her "little Caesar". Mike ultimately relented, and the store opened as "Little Caesar's Pizza Treat." The original store is still open today.
The company is famous for its advertising catchphrase, "Pizza! Pizza!" which was introduced in 1979. The phrase refers to two pizzas being offered for the comparable price of a single pizza from competitors. Originally the pizzas were served in a single long package. In addition to pizza, they served hot dogs, chicken, shrimp, and fish. Little Caesars has discarded the unwieldy packaging in favor of typical pizza boxes.
Little Caesars' profits were declining in the 1990s, due to the company's attempts to offer free delivery. While delivery was free, the cost of the pizza per customer was doubled. Instead of offering two pizzas for the price of one, the company would only offer one pizza at full cost, but included free delivery. The decrease in sales lead to a large number of franchisee to shut their doors and leave a number of once profitable markets.
The chain opened its first location in Africa in 1998, and continued to experiment with international store for the next decade.
Starting in 2004, the chain began offering "Hot-N-Ready", a large pepperoni pizza sold for $5. The concept was successful enough to become a permanent fixture of the chain, and Little Caesars' business model has shifted to focus more on carryout.
Little Caesars was among the first to use a new kind of speed cooking conveyor oven, the "Rotary Air Impingement Oven" as described in U.S. Patent 5676044 .
On November 1, 2010, Little Caesars introduced Pizza! Pizza! Pantastic, denying that the return of "Pizza! Pizza!" had any relationship to the recent success of Domino's, plus they deliver at some locations. In 2013, Little Caesars brought back the "Pan Pan" concept, only now calling it "Deep Deep Dish". They also expanded the "Hot-N-Ready" line to include plain cheese pizzas, 3 Meat Treat pizzas, and a pepperoni Deep Deep Dish. The plain cheese is $5 while the other two are $8, and in 2014 Little Caesars introduced a Hot-N-Ready lunch combo consisting of half a pepperoni Deep Deep Dish and a twenty-ounce Pepsi product for $5.
Ilitch Holdings, Inc. provides professional and technical services to all companies owned by Mike Illitch. These include the Detroit Red Wings of the National Hockey League, Detroit Tigers of Major League Baseball, Detroit's MotorCity Casino Hotel, Blue Line Foodservice Distribution, Little Caesars Pizza Kits, Champion Foods, Olympia Entertainment, Olympia Development, Uptown Entertainment, and the Hockeytown Cafe (also the site of City Theater) and numerous other restaurants downtown and Fox Theatre in downtown Detroit. In 2005, combined revenues of Ilitch-owned businesses totaled $2 billion.
The company is now looking to expand again, especially in the Northeast U.S. It would also like to return to markets the chain was forced to withdraw from in the late 1990s due to financial troubles such as Pittsburgh, Minneapolis-St. Paul and Denver.
In 2006, the Little Caesars franchise returned to the Twin Cities Market, opening up stores in such busy corners as University Avenue and Snelling Avenue in Midway, Saint Paul, and Lake Street and Hiawatha Avenue, nearby the Midtown light rail station in the Phillips community of Minneapolis and other high foot traffic, low income sections of the Twin Cities. In 2011, the Snelling location moved from an upscale area to a lower income, "poorer" area, fulfilling their practice of catering to low income areas. Domino's has since filled this location. Caesars also began a return to the competitive Pittsburgh market with the opening of new locations in Belle Vernon, Carnegie, Dormont, White Oak, West View, North Versailles, Uniontown, Canonsburg, and New Castle, Pennsylvania along with the Philadelphia market to places such as Norristown. A new location also opened in the Pittsburgh suburb of Whitehall on 29 September 2009, and one in Pittsburgh's upwardly mobile Shadyside neighborhood opened May 15, 2010.
By 1987 the company was operating across the Northern United States, purchasing the Mother's Pizza chain out of receivership in Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom in 1989. By 2006 it was also present in parts of Canada (although some Canadian cities had locations since 1969), Puerto Rico, Guam, South Korea, Honduras, Slovakia, the Dominican Republic, Czech Republic, Mexico, Turkey, Ecuador, Egypt, Aruba, Iceland, Guatemala, Curaçao, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, El Salvador, Qatar, Venezuela, UAE, Lebanon, Bahrain and Peru. In 2004, Little Caesars began to sell Hot and Ready pizzas that are available without an order and with no wait. In 2007, Little Caesars ended its partnership with Coca-Cola, opting for Pepsi products instead, as of June 1, 2012 Pepsi is now available in Canada.
Throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, Little Caesars were commonly found in Kmart stores, more specifically in Big Kmarts and Super Kmarts. Coincidentally, the first Kmart and the first Little Caesars were both built in Garden City, Michigan. After Kmart's bankruptcy issues, some of today's Kmarts have replaced the Little Caesars with their own branded "K-Cafe". However, several Little Caesars remain. Little Caesars pizza are also included in many remodeled Kmart locations or re-branded stores such as Sears Grand or Sears Essentials.
Today, Little Caesars is the fastest-growing pizza chain in the world.
Trademark in Canada
While Little Caesars owns the "Pizza! Pizza!" trademark in the U.S., the unaffiliated Pizza Pizza restaurant chain, founded on New Year's Eve Day in 1967 (a dozen years before Little Caesars began using their trademarked version in the United States) owns the Canadian trademark. As a result, Little Caesars cannot directly use its well-known slogan in Canada, but has used "Two Pizzas!" along with "Delivery! Delivery!", "Quality! Quality!" or other such double-word tag lines in advertising and on packaging in Canada.
Countries with Little Caesars Pizza locations
- Dominican Republic
- Czech Republic - Was located in a K-Mart store in Brno and in Tesco stores in Prague and Liberec.
- United Kingdom - one outlet in South Norwood, London
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- Declining profit, followed by a permanent fixture of the chain.
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- LittleCaesars.com - Official U.S. Website
- LittleCaesars.ca - Official Canada Website
- Ilitch Holdings, Inc.
- Official company announcement about entering Costa Rica, Peru and Ireland.