Popular Pizza Franchises that Originated in Michigan

(Last Updated On: June 24, 2022)

Popular Pizza Franchises that Originated in Michigan

The Motor City is not only the Automobile Capital of the World but also the Pizza Capital of the United States. Detroit, Michigan, earns this title because of its famous Detroit-style pizza, a rectangular pizza with a thick, crispy crust. Along with inventing a world-renowned pizza, Michigan has also been the starting place for four pizza businesses. Popular pizza franchises that originated in Michigan include Domino’s, Hungry Howie’s, Jet’s Pizza, and Little Caesars. These establishments opened their first locations in Southeast Michigan and quickly emerged as national and global phenomena. 

Domino’s

In 1960, brothers Tom and James Monaghan opened a restaurant called DomNick’s in the heart of Ypsilanti, Michigan. Five years later, Tom renamed the store Domino’s Pizza. Over the last 62 years, the company has grown into the largest pizza chain in the world, with over 18,000 stores in 80+ countries. Despite going global, Domino’s remains true to its Michigan roots as the headquarters are in Ann Arbor, Michigan. 

Hungry Howie’s

Established in 1973, Hungry Howie’s opened its initial location in Taylor, Michigan. Owner Jim Hearn hired Steve Jackson as a delivery driver, and their relationship blossomed into a partnership. They expanded the business in January 1983, opening their first franchise location. During that same year, they developed flavored crust pizza. Hundreds of pizzerias around the world incorporate it into their menus. The franchise now serves customers in 550 stores spread across 22 states. 

Jet’s Pizza

Sterling Heights, Michigan, is the headquarters and home of the original Jet’s Pizza. Eugene Jetts and his partner John opened their first store, Jetts Party Shoppe & Pizzeria, in 1978. They later shortened the name to Jet’s Pizza. Currently, this Michigan-based pizza franchise has 380 locations spread throughout 19 states. Jet’s is known for the square deep-dish Detroit-style pizza as well as its trademarked 8-corner pizza. 

Little Caesars

The year was 1959. Mike and Marian Ilitch started their business endeavors by establishing Little Caesars in a Detroit suburb called Garden City, Michigan. Their “hot-n-ready” pizza became popular because of a 1979 coupon. Customers could get two pizzas for the price of one. This deal launched the company’s phrase: “Pizza! Pizza!” 

The Ilitch family has made millions of dollars from this business alone. As a result, the family purchased the Detroit Red Wings for eight million dollars in 1982. Now, Little Caesars Arena is the home of the Detroit Pistons and Red Wings. The company’s world headquarters are also in Downtown Detroit, only three blocks from Little Caesars Arena. 

Other Michigan-Based Pizza Franchises

Cottage Inn

Opening in 1948, Cottage Inn had the honor of being the first restaurant in Ann Arbor, Michigan, to serve pizza. It is not a national pizza chain, but it has about 50 locations in Michigan and Ohio. Something unique about this Michigan-based pizza franchise is its extensive gluten-free menu and its plant-based and 100% vegan pizzas

Happy’s Pizza

With 65 locations in Michigan, Ohio, and Nevada, Happy’s Pizza has successfully “built fast, casual restaurants in typically underserved communities.” This restaurant opened its door to the people of Detroit in 1994. The affordable menu, which includes pizza, wings, seafood, shrimp, burgers, and more, allows large families to eat on a budget. Only a short 30-minute drive from the original location is the headquarters in Farmington Hills, Michigan. 


Now that you know the origin stories of famous pizzerias, can you list the largest pizza chains in the world?

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About Lauren Booher 7 Articles
Lauren Booher is a content writer at Sporcle from Ann Arbor, Michigan. She is pursuing a B.A. in Sports Media at Indiana University and loves to work in production and content creation roles. Sports are a huge part of her life as she loves to spend Saturdays in the fall at the Big House and summer nights at Comerica Park.