Little Caesars is a pizza chain based in Detroit, Michigan. It is the third largest pizza chain in the United States, behind Pizza Hut and Domino's Pizza. It operates and franchises pizza restaurants in the United States and internationally in Asia, the Middle East, Australia, Canada, Latin America and the Caribbean. The company was founded in 1959 and is based in Detroit, Michigan, headquartered in the Fox Theatre building in Downtown Detroit.
Little Caesars Pizza was founded on May 8, 1959, by Mike Ilitch and his wife Marian Ilitch. The first location was in a strip mall in Garden City, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit, and named "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 (a piece of corrugated cardboard in 2-by-1 proportions, with two square pizzas placed side by side, then slid into a form-fitting paper sleeve that was folded and stapled closed). In addition to pizza, they served hot dogs, chicken, shrimp, and fish. Little Caesars has since discarded the unwieldy packaging in favor of typical pizza boxes.
In 1998, Little Caesars filled what was then the largest pizza order, filling an order of 13,386 pizzas from the VF Corporation of Greensboro, North Carolina. 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 December 10, 2014, Little Caesars announced plans for a new 8-story, 205,000-square-foot Global Resource Center to be built at Woodward Avenue and Columbia Street in downtown Detroit. The new facility will double the size of Little Caesars World Headquarters Campus, currently located in the Fox Office Center building, which houses both the iconic Fox Theatre, and 186,000 square feet of office space for Little Caesars, and other Ilitch-affiliated ventures. The plans include a complete renovation of the 186,000 square foot Fox Office space into a modern, flexible, open and collaborative workspace. An overhead pedestrian bridge over Columbia Street will connect the Fox with the new Little Caesars Global Resource Center, and workspace for an additional 600 jobs to be brought to Detroit over time.
On January 31, 2016, it was announced that the new Little Caesars Pizza Global Resource Center, has grown by one floor to be a nine-story building at Woodward and Columbia Street. It will sit next to the company's current headquarters inside the Fox Theatre. Original plans called for a 205,000-square-foot building; it is now expected to be about 240,000-square-feet. In 2017, to coincide with the opening of Little Caesars Arena, the company launched a slightly updated logo, which removed the Caesar's chest hair and updated the wreath, as well as change the design at the bottom of the toga to have hidden letters spelling "LC" for "Little Caesars". The company also started using the updated Caesar in its advertising, replacing the more cartoonish Caesar that had been used in ads since the 1980s.
Little Caesars sold its first franchise in 1962 and, by 1987, had restaurants in all 50 states. Throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, Little Caesars were commonly found in Kmart stores, more specifically in Big Kmarts and Super Kmarts. 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 was 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 United States, and continues to expand across the country and internationally. As of 2017, the company has 5,463 locations including U.S. and international units. 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. As of 2018, the company is present in Canada (some Canadian cities had locations since 1969), Puerto Rico, US Virgin Islands, Guam, Honduras, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Panama, Turkey, Jordan, Egypt, Guatemala, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, El Salvador, Jamaica, Bahrain, Australia, Trinidad and Tobago and Chile.
Little Caesars specializes in a variety of pizzas. Several core menu items are part of the HOT-N-READY menu, designed to make popular items available for immediate carry-out, while others are made to order and customizable using an assortment of toppings, which vary by store. Standard pizza options include their Classic Cheese and/or Pepperoni, Italian Sausage Pizza, Hula Hawaiian Pizza, Three Meat Treat Pizza, Ultimate Supreme Pizza, and Veggie Pizza. In 2013, they added the DEEP!DEEP! Dish Pizza, a Detroit-style pizza, to the menu.
Additional entrée options include flavored wings and bread, such as Crazy Bread and Italian Cheese Bread. Select locations offer salads. All Little Caesars locations carry Pepsi products. On occasion, Little Caesars releases limited time offers. They introduced the Soft Pretzel Crust Pizza, which was brought back for a second time in 2015 due to high demand. They also introduced the Extra Most Bestest and Deep! Deep! Dish pizzas. Little Caesars introduced the Bacon Wrapped Crust Pizza in 2015, which featured their deep dish pizza wrapped in 3.5 feet of bacon.