Mike and Marian Ilitch opened their first Little Caesars restaurant in Garden City, Michigan on May 8, 1959.
Mike Ilitch had been on another career path as a talented shortstop with the Detroit Tigers farm team. While his teammates were looking for the local ballpark, Mike was eyeing the local pizza joint. Pizza was clearly in his blood. An injury prompted Mike to trade in his baseball glove for hot pads.
It started with a little-known snack food called “pizza” brought home by World War II soldiers returning from Italy. Mike and Marian saw promise in this new food and were passionate about starting their own pizza business. They invested their $10,000 life savings toward opening a single Little Caesars shop in 1959. To grow the chain, Mike and Marian franchised their stores, ultimately giving thousands of individuals the opportunity to own their own business. Mike and Marian took personal pride in helping franchisees grow their businesses and providing employment opportunities for young crew members.
More than 50 years later, Little Caesars is the largest carry out pizza chain in the world and an internationally known brand. The success of Little Caesars allowed Mike and Marian to own other businesses in the food, sports and entertainment industries, including the Detroit Red Wings and Olympia Entertainment, among others.
Innovation has given Little Caesars its unique place in the pizza industry, even from day one. When they opened their doors in 1959, people thought a carry out restaurant without tables and chairs would fail, but Mike and Marian’s innovative idea paid off.
Little Caesars has a history of industry firsts: Mike pioneered the two-for-one pizza deal later known as Pizza!Pizza!®, and then created a conveyor oven specially designed to bake pizza quickly and consistently to keep up with customer demand. The chain built stores where pizza was never served before, such as in sports arenas, college dormitories, and military bases. Little Caesars introduced Crazy Bread®, which became a standard accompaniment to pizza and was mimicked by other pizza chains. Little Caesars also broke the status quo by making pizzas ready when customers walk in, with no need to call ahead or wait in line, with the launch of its HOT-N-READY pizza offer.
Source : How It All Began