( time capsule )
Since 1959, this carryout chain has grown
through innovation and giving back.
In 1959, Michael and Marian Ilitch opened a single pizza shop in Garden City, Michigan, with their $10,000 life savings, taking a chance on a little-known snack food called pizza—and on a carryout-only model that many told them would fail. However, the concept proved a success, with the couple selling its first franchise in 1962 to grow the business. The first international franchise opened in Canada in 1969, and, by 1987, Little Caesars had stores in all 50 states; today, the busi- ness has locations on five continents. With this rapid expansion came innovations that changed the pizza industry: The iconic mid-’70s “Pizza! Pizza!” campaign, with a two-for-one pizza offer, prompted the early development of a conveyor oven designed for pizzas to meet growing demand; Crazy Bread made breadsticks a common pizza accompaniment; and the pizzeria was the first to have a drive-thru, open a stadium location and serve lunchtime pizza in minutes (it’s now known for its line of Hot-N-Ready products, which cater to
on-the-go consumers). And, throughout the decades, low prices have kept the
company afloat even in times of economic hardship. “Since Marian and I opened
our first store, Little Caesars has been focused on providing families with great
value,” said Michael Ilitch upon the business’ 50-year anniversary in 2009. “It’s
a formula that has worked for five decades and will work for many more.”
Giving back has also been a driving force in the company from its begin-
nings. Early on, Little Caesars sponsored youth hockey and eventually created
the Little Caesars Amateur Hockey League. The Little Caesars Love Kitchen,
a pizza kitchen on wheels, has provided free hot meals to millions, including
the homeless as well as disaster survivors and rescue workers; a second Love
Kitchen was added in 2008. And dozens of
U.S. veterans have received credits and bene-
fits through the company’s Veterans Program
to become franchisees.
Now entering its sixth decade, the company
wants to continue its focus on fun, value and
growth. “Little Caesars is well-positioned to
reach countless more milestones,” says Da-
vid Scrivano, president of Little Caesars. “We
have achieved consistent growth for many
years and expect the momentum to continue.”
(Top to bottom) Mike Ilitch checks out an
oven; the original Little Caesars opened in
1959; the first franchise was intended to
grow the Ilitch’s business.
Has your pizzeria been in business for 50 or more years?