The Story

Learn Mike Ilitch’s story; before Little Caesars, and how Mike’s Pizza Bar’s story unfolded into what you see today.

In the 1950s, pizza was considered by most to be a fad. Yet, a young entrepreneur from Detroit named Mike Ilitch thought pizza had legs. Mike’s first experience making pizza was in a small kitchen in the back of Haig’s Bar, a local hangout located at the corner of Livernois and Tireman during the early 1950s. Mike became fascinated with this tasty menu item. He loved shaping the freshly made dough and dressing it with his own spicy tomato sauce and his favorite toppings of shredded cheese, quality pepperoni and fresh mushrooms. He loved the rich aroma as the pizza baked in his small portable oven. And he especially loved the reaction from his customers while enjoying his soon to be famous recipes.

In the summer months, Mike was a talented ballplayer with the Detroit Tigers minor league system. As the team travelled from town-to-town to play the competition, Mike was always scouting for pizza joints. He noticed there were very few. So when his baseball career ended, due to a knee injury, he decided to pursue a second dream. Along with his wife Marian, Mike opened his first Little Caesars carryout restaurant on May 8, 1959 in Garden City, Michigan. They sold 49 pizzas that first day. Today, Little Caesars is the leading international carryout pizza chain. But it all dates back to the love of pizza Mike developed making pizza in the back of Haig’s Bar.