Founders of Little Caesars Pizza Receive Highest Honor From IFA


Dec 18, 2015

Little Caesars Pizza franchisors and founders Mike and Marian Ilitch are headed into the International Franchise Association’s Hall of Fame, the highest honor available from the association.

Presented to exemplary IFA members who have made significant contributions to the franchising community and the advancement of franchising, the Hall of Fame award is IFA’s oldest and most prestigious accolade. The award will be formally presented near the end of February 2016 at the IFA’s 56th Annual Convention in San Antonio, Texas.

IFA Chair Melanie Bergeron spoke about the Little Caesars founders, saying she has no doubt the couple deserves the honor. According to Bergeron, Mike and Marian Ilitch have made tremendous contributions to franchising, and they’ve also worked hard for Detroit, their hometown, which benefits from their commitment and involvement. 

Little Caesars: Built on Innovation

Innovation has been a key factor in Little Caesars’ success since the opening of its first location in Detroit back in 1959. Highlights include the revolutionary "two-for-one" pizza deal, which was later named "Pizza!Pizza!," the $5 "hot and ready" concept, the invention of a conveyor oven specifically designed to bake pizza, and the franchise business’ unique products, such as Crazy Bread. Recently, Little Caesars became the first national chain to offer a Detroit-style deep dish pizza, a bacon-wrapped pizza, and a pizza with a pretzel crust across all its U.S. menus.

The work and consistent innovation from the Ilitches has helped the franchise business flourish and grow into what it is today. Currently, Little Caesars has locations in every U.S. state and 18 overseas markets.

Mike and Marian Ilitch: Franchise and Community Leaders

The Ilitches began franchising in 1962, only three years after the brand was founded. The franchise business built stores in locations where pizza was never on the menu before, including military bases, hospitals and college dorms. This approach changed the way food service franchises looked at locations, which opened the doors to new opportunities and changed the industry.

During the 1980s, when many businesses were leaving Detroit, the Ilitches chose to relocate their world headquarters there. Since then, they’ve continued to support the community and were able to buy the Detroit Red Wings team and turn them into a championship club. In 1992, they bought the Detroit Tigers, and in 2000, they opened Comerica Park, the team’s new home. 

The founders have also been recognized for their charity efforts, which include a food program for the hungry and homeless and the Ilitch Charities, a nonprofit that focuses on community development, human services, recreation and education. Mike, a veteran, also founded an incentive program for veterans interested in the Little Caesars franchise opportunity.

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