Friday, February 23, 2024

Buddy’s Pizza legacy lives on as originator of Detroit-style pizza

Buddy’s Pizza originated Detroit-style pizza, with its thick dough and crispy cheese edges. The model leaves an enduring legacy even because it grows.

Buddy’s Pizza legacy lives on as originator of Detroit-style pizzaBuddy’s Pizza downtown Detroit location is the model’s authentic. Picture courtesy of Buddy’s Pizza.

Some pizzerias are constructed on historical past solely they will present to the business. Michigan’s Buddy’s Pizza has the sort of legacy different pizzerias dream about; in spite of everything, the model originated Detroit-style pizza.

Pizza Market talked with the model’s new CEO, Chris Tussing, in a cellphone interview to find out about its prolonged business historical past, its future and every little thing in between.

The heritage

Buddy’s created Detroit-style pizza crust in 1946. “It was establishing a brand new customary, a brand new model of pizza altogether,” Tussing stated, “and there is simply such an awesome legacy behind that. Pizza’s such a beloved meals. … It is the one meals folks need to eat probably the most.”

Even the form of Buddy’s pizza was a novelty — most pizzas have been spherical, and since Buddy’s pizzas have been baked in sq. metal pans, giving it a tacky caramelization as a substitute of a standard crust, the sq. slices proved to be a special product for company.

“Our crust is probably the most superb a part of our pizza,” Tussing stated. “You are getting that fresh-made dough day by day that is proofed within the retailer, after which we put the edge-to-edge cheese on it because it’s proofing, after which we construct the pizzas and put it by means of the ovens.

“When it comes out, you may see this virtually dual-layer of tans and browns. That is dough cheese that is caramelized. Give me that good rise that is virtually an inch rise on that crust.”

Tussing stated the corners of Detroit-style pizza are probably the most prized half.

“Texture, taste, saltiness — it is all a part of our crust that I do not suppose you get within the common pizza. That is a part of what makes it actually particular. … We set that customary 77 years in the past.”

Tussing has reverence for that customary and holds the model to its legacy in any respect its places, not simply the long-lasting authentic 6 Mile location in Detroit, which remains to be working robust.

Nonetheless, when Pizza Market spoke to Tussing, he stated there had been a P!nk live performance downtown and the shop was “on hearth” earlier than and after the occasion. Celebrities typically go to Buddy’s Pizza, making it a model that is a part of the material that makes up Detroit. “Not numerous manufacturers have that sort of legacy and heritage,” Tussing stated. “Plenty of manufacturers would die to have this type of reference to prospects and workers.”

Picture courtesy of Buddy’s Pizza.

On the menu

Apart from create-your-owns, Buddy’s specialty pizzas are the preferred. There are 12 to fifteen on the menu at any given time. The Detroit Public TV is a high vendor with authentic pepperoni beneath the model’s Motor Metropolis cheese mix and Previous-World pepperoni on high. The Detroiter has Wisconsin brick cheese, pepperoni, tomato basil sauce, shaved parmesan cheese and Buddy’s Sicilian spice mix. The Margherita, with Wisconsin brick cheese, diced tomatoes, garlic, oregano, recent basil, Asiago cheese and tomato basil sauce, is fashionable as a vegetarian possibility.

The model makes three totally different sorts of dough in every retailer every day, together with a multi-grain and a gluten-free. The signature Buddy Bread makes use of its personal sort of flour and a special proofing course of from the model’s pizzas.

Buddy’s opts to make use of a proprietary Wisconsin brick cheese moderately than a standard mozzarella. It is introduced in in 40-pound bricks and crumbled recent.

“We imagine issues are higher once they’re made by hand and from the center,” Tussing added, “and I believe that is what you see and what you expertise and what you style. Our workers understand how their arms and hearts go into making a greater pizza that the shoppers are loving.”

Buddy’s gives premium pizzas; it is not a reduced model, so it must earn that premium worth, Tussing identified. Even gadgets like rooster fingers, that are dredged in-house, are a premium product.

“It’s extra like a hand-crafted kitchen expertise total within the shops,” Tussing stated.

Picture courtesy of Buddy’s Pizza.


The model has 22 places, so guaranteeing consistency throughout the model is paramount. That is the place Buddy’s operations groups come into play. All of the shops are corporately owned, and the ops group works intently with basic managers, together with holding conferences quarterly. The ops group is in shops weekly ensuring all groups are on the identical pages. Kitchen managers are accountable for and oversee all of the care and craft that goes into the work. Tussing additionally employed a chief working officer, Joe Dominiak, when he got here in as CEO.

“As we scale, it is vital that we keep that prime customary of product and expertise that we set 77 years in the past,” he stated, including it ought to really feel like prospects are eating at Buddy’s authentic downtown Detroit retailer regardless of which location they’re patronizing.

A lot of that falls on the workers, ensuring they’re conscious and specializing in the distinctive service and meals for which the model has turning into synonymous. Managers ought to be strolling the ground and speaking to tables, Tussing stated, and having touches with the shoppers. “It actually issues to indicate that you simply care,” he stated.

Additionally, firm management has introduced in in new methods to assist with the coursing of meals so it is attending to the tables on time and higher serving to the BoH and FoH synch collectively.

The buyer is altering, and the model respects the muse on which it is constructed, so marrying the 2 has turn out to be a vital element to Buddy’s operations. “We have to change to satisfy the buyer and the place their expectations are,” Tussing stated, “however you have to watch out. Generally manufacturers change simply to attempt to meet a shopper, however they’re basically shifting in a approach that does not connect with who they’re. You have to be conscious of the place you come from to grasp the buyer and you have to discover that bridge between the 2.”


Non-public fairness model CapitalSpring purchased Buddy’s Pizza in 2018. Tussing stated the corporate is deep within the restaurant area and owns various macro manufacturers. CapitalSpring has helped speed up the model’s development. Former CEO Robert Jacobs nonetheless maintain a portion of the corporate as properly.

A retailer is anticipated to open in Canton, Michigan, across the holidays. Buddy’s additionally not too long ago turned the official pizza of College of Michigan athletics and will probably be served on the college’s stadiums, and with followers coming to the video games from out of state it should give the corporate even broader attain. “It is nice to have an fairness that already is touring greater than, frankly, our bodily footprint is,” Tussing stated.

The model additionally plans to develop into some specialty grocery shops in Michigan as properly.

“What the grocers like about us is a heritage, iconic model with a particular story that prices a premium and with a premium product,” Tussing stated. “It is an awesome answer for them and their shops.”

Mandy Wolf Detwiler is the managing editor at Networld Media Group and the positioning editor for and She has greater than 20 years’ expertise masking meals, folks and locations.
An award-winning print journalist, Mandy brings greater than 20 years’ expertise to Networld Media Group. She has spent almost twenty years masking the pizza business, from impartial pizzerias to multi-unit chains and each dimension enterprise in between. Mandy has been featured on the Meals Community and has received quite a few awards for her protection of the restaurant business. She has an insatiable urge for food for studying, and might let you know the place to search out the very best slices within the nation after spending 15 years touring and consuming pizza for a residing. 

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