The ovens are heating up at the newest outpost of Buddy’s Pizza. The legendary home of the Detroit square slice was founded in 1946 in Detroit and while its expanded over the years, it’s never opened another location within city limits until now. The downtown Detroit restaurant is slated to open to the public on Wednesday, December 11 near Grand Circus Park, bringing the iconic brand closer to visitors in the business and entertainment district. With the opening comes a slightly updated menu and a new by-the-slice service format.
Located in a 7,000-sqaure-foot space inside the Madison Building, Buddy’s 16th location will seat around 225 guests with patio seating in the summer. The restaurant features a mixture of four-top table, booths, and bar seating as well as a large table for bigger groups. The west side of the restaurant is also outfitted with a walk-up counter called Buddy’s by the Square, which will serve quick, all-corner slices for customers on their lunch breaks or grabbing a bite on the way to the stadium. That paired down menu will also include sandwiches and wraps. Burton Heiss, Buddy’s newly named CEO, tells Eater the restaurant’s downtown format will be used as a testing ground for future locations.
The interior of Buddy’s Downtown Detroit has an industrial look with call backs to the pizzeria’s history. Tiled floors pay tribute to the original location on Six Mile and Conant Street as well as a light up sign reading “Rendezvous.” While there isn’t any bocce ball at this location, customers can tune into sports events on a handful of flat screens throughout the space.
Along with the Buddy’s by the Square station, the company is also testing an updated menu at the downtown Detroit restaurant. Heiss says that customers can expect 80 percent of the dishes to the be the same with a few “upgrades” on items that maybe weren’t the best sellers. For instance, the oven-baked macaroni has been replaced by a whole macaroni section with four different styles of cheesy noodles. Fortunately, the pizza recipe is staying the same with slightly adjusted names. “I think consumer insights and experience is super important to how you evolve a brand, especially an iconic, historic one. So we’ll roll it out here and better understand what works and what doesn’t,” Heiss says.
Investment firm CapitalSpring acquired majority control of Buddy’s in January 2018 and the restaurant group has experienced significant growth since then. This is the fourth location to open in Michigan in 2019. Heiss says that Buddy’s is now focused on testing new formats and menus. He expects the restaurant group to announce new locations in other Midwest markets within the next 12 to 24 months.
As part of its grand opening, Buddy’s is partnering with the Motown Museum and donating all of the profits from the day to the museum’s community programs. The doors will open at 11 a.m. Customers can expect to see big heads from the Parade Company as well as live music performances and Motown trivia games with pizza giveaways.
Buddy’s is also conducting a social media scavenger hunt ahead of the debut, with 100 branded records placed at well-known landmarks throughout Detroit. People who find the records may bring them to the downtown restaurant for a free 4-square pizza. More details on the contest are available at the Buddy’s website.
Photographer Michelle Gerard took a tour of Detroit’s second Buddy’s pizzeria on Wednesday. Take a look around the restaurant below.
Buddy’s Downtown Detroit is located at 1565 Broadway St.; the restaurant is currently accepting reservations between 11 a.m. and 9:30 p.m. on opening day by email at firstname.lastname@example.org (include a name, phone number, preferred time, and size of party).
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