How It All Began
Mike and Marian Ilitch opened their first Little Caesars restaurant in Garden City, Michigan more than 50 years ago.
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 was an exciting time for Mike and Marian Ilitch as they worked together toward that grand opening day of May 8, 1959.
From a Single Store to a Global Chain
Michael and Marian Ilitch, the founders of Little Caesars Pizza, dreamed big, took risks, and grew one pizza shop in a Detroit suburb into an international pizza chain.
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. Just like Little Caesars, Mike and Marian’s businesses are synonymous with “fun.”