Little Caesars Pizza Celebrates 50th Anniversary
Founders Establish the Opportunity for Many to Achieve the American Dream
Heritage of Innovation, Quality and Value Leads to Consistent Growth
DETROIT, May 8 // PRNewswire // -- The American dream for Michael and Marian Ilitch began in 1959 with a single pizza shop in Garden City, Mich. and grew into a globally recognized brand that has provided thousands of franchisees the opportunity to create their own American dreams. Today, Little Caesars Pizza celebrates its 50th anniversary of offering families high-quality products, providing business opportunities for entrepreneurs, and making a difference in communities across the country.
"The entrepreneurial spirit is the backbone of the American way of life, and is especially important today," said Michael Ilitch, co-founder and chairman, Little Caesar Enterprises, Inc. "Since Marian and I opened our first store 50 years ago, Little Caesars has remained focused on providing families with a great value, despite the ups and downs of the economy and ever-changing trends. It's a formula that has worked for five decades, and will work for many more."
Throughout its history, Little Caesars has fostered a culture of creativity and innovation to meet customers' needs. Examples include the early development of a conveyor oven specially designed to bake pizzas, which set the stage for the efficiencies, consistency and quality needed to support the well-known Pizza!Pizza!(R) promotion. Other highly recognized product and promotional innovations include the popular HOT-N-READY(R) products and Crazy Bread(R).
How it all Began
Sharing an entrepreneurial spirit and the belief that success comes from hard work, the Ilitches dreamed of owning their own business. Pizza was a little-known snack food in 1959, but the newly married couple saw its promise and took a risk by investing their $10,000 life savings to open their first pizza shop.
Through the combination of products customers loved, Mr. Ilitch's marketing savvy and Mrs. Ilitch's eye for numbers, the Ilitches recouped their investment and opened more stores. They also provided others with the opportunity to become independent business owners through franchising, further enabling growth.
In addition to value, the Little Caesars brand grew to represent passion, fun, commitment and a focus on family shared by the Ilitches, franchisees, colleagues and vendors. These characteristics were reflected in breakthrough advertising and marketing, and came to life in the fun-loving and appealing "Little Caesar" character who became recognized around the world.
In 2008, Little Caesars' year-over-year sales increases again led to significant franchisee growth and entry into new markets for the brand. Little Caesars opened hundreds of stores, making it the fastest-growing pizza chain in the world. Little Caesars, which has a presence in all 50 states, built more domestic units than any other pizza chain in the United States, opening new stores in 41 states in 2008 alone. Little Caesars, which currently operates in 20 countries, also built stores in 7 countries in 2008.
Today, Little Caesars is the largest carry-out chain internationally with restaurants on five continents. The Ilitches are the only actively involved founding couple of the top 150 family businesses established more than 50 years ago in America.
Thousands of individuals have established careers or become entrepreneurs and built their own businesses and futures for their families as Little Caesars franchisees. For example, Mike Scruggs who started his career working in a Little Caesars store at the age of nineteen worked his way to a corporate leadership position and is currently a Little Caesars franchisee with five stores in Colorado Springs, Colo. "My career with Little Caesars has been very rewarding and has provided me with the opportunity to learn valuable business skills and apply them to a proven model," said Scruggs. "I'm proud to be part of this family-focused, industry-leading organization that has such a rich history. I'm excited about the future opportunities for my three children who are very involved in growing the business with my wife and me."
"As we observe Little Caesars' 50th anniversary today, we celebrate our heritage and our future," said David Scrivano, president, Little Caesar Enterprises, Inc. "Little Caesars is well positioned to reach countless more milestones. We have achieved consistent growth for many years and we expect the momentum to continue. Little Caesars is focused on doing what we do best: providing high-quality, convenient products to customers for a great value."
Little Caesars' position as the value leader is again reinforced by significant recognition from consumers. In one of the largest U.S. quick-serve restaurant research studies in 2008, Little Caesars was again named "Best Value in America" of all quick-serve restaurant chains*. Sandelman & Associates' Quick-Track(R) research study tracks key consumer behavioral and attitudinal measures for all major fast-food chains. Surveys were conducted among nearly 94,000 quick-service restaurant customers in 75 major markets across the United States.
A Commitment to Making a Difference
In addition to focusing on providing value, Little Caesars also has a long history of giving back to the communities where it does business, and has created several unique programs to help make a difference including youth hockey, the Little Caesars Love Kitchen and the Little Caesars Veterans Program.
Early on Little Caesars sponsored youth hockey, which led to the Little Caesars Amateur Hockey League, the country's most respected youth hockey program. Founded in 1985, the Little Caesars Love Kitchen, a pizza kitchen on wheels, has provided free, hot pizza to two million citizens, including the homeless as well as disaster survivors and rescue workers. In 2008, a second Love Kitchen was added to make a difference for more people. In addition, more than 50 U.S. veterans have applied more than $1.5 million in credits and benefits through the Little Caesars Veterans Program to become Little Caesars franchisees. Little Caesars franchisees also believe in giving back and support countless churches, schools and sports teams in their communities.
Celebrating and Looking Ahead
Little Caesars will mark its 50th anniversary on May 8, 2009, with a celebration event at the historic Fox Theatre in Detroit, which was purchased by the Ilitches in 1987, completely restored and now serves as the corporate headquarters to Little Caesar Enterprises. Colleagues, franchisees, vendors and other members of the Little Caesars community will gather to pay tribute to the accomplishments that have made Little Caesars an industry leader, and have positioned it for continued growth. The fun event will include special speakers, entertainment, a unique commemorative gift, cake and pizza.
About Little Caesars
Little Caesars Pizza founders Michael and Marian Ilitch opened their first restaurant in Garden City, Michigan, in 1959. Little Caesars, the fastest growing pizza chain, built more stores in the world in 2008 than any other pizza brand and today is the largest carry-out chain globally with restaurants on five continents. Little Caesars is growing in prime markets across the country, and is offering strong franchisee candidates an opportunity for independence with a proven system. For the second year in a row, Little Caesars was named "Best Value in America"* of all quick-serve restaurant chains. In addition, Little Caesars offers strong brand awareness with one of the most recognized and appealing characters in the country, Little Caesar.
In addition to Little Caesars Pizza, Ilitch companies in the food, sports and entertainment industries include: the Detroit Red Wings, Olympia Entertainment, Olympia Development, Blue Line Foodservice Distribution, Champion Foods, Ilitch Holdings, Inc., Uptown Entertainment, Little Caesars Pizza Kit Fundraising Program, and a variety of venues within these entities. Michael Ilitch owns the Detroit Tigers. Marian Ilitch owns MotorCity Casino Hotel.
* "Highest-Rated Chain - Value for the Money" based on a nationwide survey of quick-service restaurant consumers conducted by Sandelman & Associates, 2008
SOURCE Little Caesars Pizza