Pizza Hut issued a news release this week, announcing that it’s bringing back its Detroit-style pizza for the second time this year. Locally, the news was met with fanfare. Sadly, there are no Pizza Huts in the city of Detroit.
The national chain closed the last of its pizzerias in the city in 2020, as well as some in the Detroit suburbs during the pandemic. Farmington Pizza Hut shut its last sit-down dining room in the spring of 2020. The dine-in Pizza Hut in Westland closed in June 2020, and the Canton Pizza Hut shuttered in March 2019 and moved its operations to a carryout location along Ford Road. (There are Pizza Huts carryout-only restaurants in Dearborn, Dearborn Heights, Ferndale, Warren, Southfield, and other locations.)
Yet, Pizza Hut said the Detroit-style pizza it introduced nationwide in the first quarter of this year was such a success, with (metro) Detroit demand for its own square pizza being two to three times as high as the national average. The company also says the launch helped give the Texas-based company its best quarterly sales in a decade.
“Detroit-style was a hit from the moment it launched,” Pizza Hut general manager David Graves said in a statement. “Once it sold out, our customers have been asking for it back. This is actually the fastest we’ve brought back a pizza in over 10 years.”
Of course, there’s plenty of Detroit-style pizza in Detroit, a big lover of pies. Michigan is home to two of the nation’s three largest pizza chains: Ann Arbor’s Domino’s Pizza and Detroit-based Little Caesar Enterprises. (Michigan’s Hungry Howie’s and Jet’s Pizza come in at 11 and 13.) Domino’s, which leads the country in sales with a slight edge over Pizza Hut, has yet to make a Detroit-style pizza.
The Detroit-style pizza was born in Detroit, at Buddy’s back in 1946 at Six Mile and Conant. It now has several metro Detroit locations and is planning a new carryout store in Clarkston in the fall and a 7,000-square-foot dining room in Okemos in early 2022.
For the uninitiated, the key ingredient in a proper Detroit-style pizza (known locally as Buddy’s) isn’t edible – it’s the pan. The soft and airy square crust, the crunchy exterior, the caramelized cheese at the edge – are courtesy of the deep pans in which the pizzas are baked. The pans are thick steel and more similar to a cast-iron skillet than a cake pan.