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Shawn Randazzo, Who Helped Popularize Detroit-Style Pizza in the U.S., Has Died

The World Pizza Champion and founder of Detroit-Style Pizza Company was 44 years old

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A square pizza with pepperoni on a round table with a red and white checked tablecloth.
Randazzo got his start as a delivery driver at a Cloverleaf Pizza restaurant and eventually bought the business to establish his own brand.
Stock Detroit

Shawn Randazzo, the chef who helped popularized Detroit-style square pizza on the national stage has died. Randazzo, a two-time World Pizza Champion and the founder of Detroit-Style Pizza Company, passed away on Saturday, December 5, at age 44.

Randazzo was diagnosed with a stage four brain cancer 11 months ago, according to a Facebook post by his cousins and business partners at Palazzo Di Pizza in Royal Oak.

Randazzo became familiar with Detroit-style pizza when he started as a delivery driver at Cloverleaf in 1995, according to the Detroit News. He eventually bought out a branch of the pizzeria and developed his own brand Detroit-Style Pizza Company. Under that name, the company became a major retailer of steel pizza pans. While it’s unclear who exactly started identifying Detroit’s square pizza as “Detroit-style” some have credited Randazzo with the term. “I thought that was really bold of him to do that in Detroit,” Zane Hunt of Via 313 pizza in Texas told Eater in 2019, of Randazzo’s company name. “Nobody was doing it.”

In the spring of 2012, Randazzo further spread the gospel of the Detroit-style pizza when, at the International Pizza Expo in Las Vegas, he was named World Champion Pizza Maker for his version of the square pie. He then went on to become a Detroit-style pizza consultant, training restaurant owners in his techniques. Since then, Detroit-style pizza exploded on a national stage with gourmet versions of the square slices appearing in just about every major city from coast-to-coast. Randazzo helped open Palazzo Di Pizza in 2019.

It is a with profound sense of loss and sadness, that we announce the untimely death - at just 44 years of age - of our...

Posted by Palazzo Di Pizza on Sunday, December 6, 2020

Detroit-Style Pizza Company will continue to operate and ship nationally via Goldbelly.

Randazzo is survived by his wife, Keri Randazzo, five children, and one grandchild. A Gofundme was organized in October to help with his medical bills and support Randazzo’s family after his death. It’s raised nearly $30,000 towards its $40,000 goal.

Shawn Randazzo [Gofundme]
Shawn Paul Randazzo [Obituary]
Founder of Detroit-style Pizza Company, Shawn Randazzo, Dies at 44 [Freep]
Award-Winning Owner of Detroit Style Pizza Co. Dies of Brain Cancer [Detroit News]
Detroit-Style Pizza Is Having a Moment. But Are Its Originators Getting Left Behind? [E]
Detroit-Style Pizza: The Definitive Guide [E]

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