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A square pizza on a metal tray with sauce on top next to two other square pizzas on metal trays.

After 73 Years, Buddy’s Pizza Comes to Downtown Detroit With a Refreshed Menu

Don’t worry. The pizzas are still the same.

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 marquee at the Madison building reads “Buddy’s Pizza presents the original Detroit-style pizza since 1946 on a cloudy day.
Buddy’s Pizza in downtown is located near Grand Circus Park and Broadway.

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 For instance, the oven-baked macaroni has been replaced by a whole macaroni section with four different styles of cheesy noodles.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.

A light up sign reading “Rendezvous” runs along a wall inside the dining room at Buddy’s Pizza’s downtown restaurant.
Rendezvous is an homage to the original Buddy’s Rendezvous in Detroit.
Mismatched chairs surround white four-top tables near the windows at Buddy’s in downtown Detroit.
A square bar at Buddy’s is surrounded by metal and wood stools with black and white tiled floors reading “Conant Street” and “Six Mile Road.” There are two flat-screen TVs.
Tiled floors at Buddy’s in downtown Detroit pay tribute to the original location on Six Mile and Conant Street.
Wooden booths with pendant lights and red and white upholstery at Buddy’s in downtown Detroit.
Wildly painted blue schoolhouse chairs at Buddy’s Pizza surround striped wood tables.
A black man with glasses and a long sleeve red button up shirt stands behind the Buddy’s slice counter in downtown Detroit.
Buddy’s in downtown Detroit will serve corner slices from a special quick-service carryout counter inside the restaurant.
A red light up sign that reads Made in Detroit hangs on the wall next to a long striped wood table.
A square cheese pizza with red sauce on top sits on a metal tray at the bar.
Buddy’s is updating its menu for the downtown Detroit location and will use it as a testing ground for its other restaurants. The pizza recipe, fortunately, will remain the same.

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 downtownopening@buddyspizza.com (include a name, phone number, preferred time, and size of party).

Buddy’s Brings Its Original Square Pizza Recipe to Downtown Detroit Next Week [ED]
Buddy’s Pizza Is Officially Bringing Detroit-Style Squares to Downtown [ED]
Buddy’s Pizza Is Contemplating a Downtown Detroit Location [ED]
Detroit-Style Pizza Icon Buddy’s Plans Major Expansion to the ‘Midwest and Beyond’ [ED]
All Buddy’s Coverage [ED]
All Eater Inside Coverage [ED]

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