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|Founded||1959 in Homewood, Illinois|
|Headquarters||Homewood, Illinois, USA|
Aurelio's Pizza is an Illinois restaurant chain which centers its business around the thin crust variety of Chicago-style pizza. Aurelio's Pizza has three corporate owned stores and 37 franchised locations in 6 states. Aurelio's Pizza is the oldest Chicago pizza franchise restaurant, franchising since 1974.
The Aurelio family was instrumental in development of thin crust "Chicago style pizza". James Aurelio founded Macomb, Illinois' first pizza restaurant, The Italian Village, in 1952. Students from the local state university, Western Illinois University, were primarily from the Chicago area, allowing this style to become well known across the state. In the mid-1950s, one of James’ nephews, Joe Aurelio Jr., came to Macomb IL to work in the restaurant. Joe eventually moved back home to the Chicago area in 1959 and his cousin Louis Gaetano became co-owner of The Italian Village.
Joe then founded his own pizza restaurant, named Aurelio’s. This was a small, 4 table restaurant on Ridge Rd. in Homewood. Both Aurelios specialized in a distinctive thin crust pizza that was sliced in "Chicago style" square pieces. In 1977 Aurelio’s opened the world's largest pizzeria near its original store in what was formerly a 12,000-square-foot (1,100 m2) industrial warehouse. The company's slogan is "Aurelio's is Pizza!"
When James Aurelio died, Louis Gaetano sold The Italian Village and it became an Aurelio’s Pizza franchise. The chain's main competition is Rosati's Pizza, Nancy's Pizza, and Home Run Inn, as well as many smaller family-owned establishments. The son of James Aurelio, Larry Aurelio, subsequently started a new pizza chain named Larry A's.
The chain's specialties are its Thin-crust pizza and "calabrese," known by most as a calzone. They are not particularly known for traditional Chicago deep dish, though they do offer a thick crust and stuffed crust on the menu. In addition, a variety of other menu items are available, including Italian beef, meatball sandwiches, a variety of salads and appetizers and a warm cookie dessert.