Growing Up Buddy's: Pizza chain celebrates 70th anniversary

- For seven decades now, Buddy's pizza has been serving up the original Detroit-style square pizza. The first location opened up in 1946 on Six Mile at Conant Street in Detroit. The original Buddy's building actually was built as a single-family home in the late 1900s, and its story has grown from there.

"Shortly after that it became a bar. Upon prohibition, it became a restaurant. However, they were still serving alcohol here, which turned it into a Blind Pig," explains Matt Heckert. He's the Operation Supervisor for Buddy's Pizza. "After prohibition was repealed in '33, it became a legitimate tavern where they were serving food. It wasn't until 1946 when Gus Guerra and Connie Piccinato came up with the first Buddy's Pizza in 1946 and that's when the legend was born."

Now, eleven locations are scattered throughout southeast Michigan, and Buddy's has been a tradition for many families in the area.

One family, in particular, is the Maiorana family. They've been eating at Buddy's since 1955.

"I lived in this neighborhood for 20 years and we'd walk down here for pizza on Friday nights usually, and then from here we moved from Warren and we went to the 13 Mile Buddy's for 20 years, and then I moved out to Clinton Township and now we go to the new Buddy's out there," Beverly Maiorana says.

She says she just loves the atmosphere and the waitress and, of course, the food. Her toppings of choice are ham, cheese and mushroom.

She says she has seven great grandchildren and their families all go to Buddy's, too. "We have been a Buddy's family for years."

As have many families in the metro Detroit community.

Dennis Kot is the manager at the original location in Detroit and has worked with the company for more than 30 years. He says he gotten to know several families very well over the years.

"There's quite a few people that come around Christmas time. We have some families that come in here at Easter time, various times throughout the year. There are quite a few that just keep coming back. I know their faces, I always have a tough time remembering names and I'm not afraid to say that," he says with a smile. "There's a lot of families over the years where their kids come in and now they're bringing in their kids."

Buddy's is a family affair for Dennis, too. He met his wife at Buddy's, and their kids had their first part-time jobs at Buddy's, too. Dennis himself started in the kitchen and eventually worked his way up, helping open up a few of the other locations.

"It's just amazing how many people remember you and keep coming in over these 70 years," he says.

He thinks people keep coming back because the product has always stayed the same. The original location even uses the same pans that they've always used.

"Keeping it the same over all those years gets difficult at times because companies will change their products without you knowing about it and it's like, why is ours tasting different?" he says. "That and the service; the staff is the most important thing. The staff giving the great service because, you know, you can have great food but if you don't have service people aren't going to come back."

As an added thank you for more than 70 years in business, Buddy's is doing something special for their customers with new customer appreciation cards.

"It's six months' worth of coupons where you can get 8" square pizza for $7, toppings for 70 cents," explains Matt Heckert. He's the Operation Supervisor for Buddy's Pizza.

You can pick these cards up at any one of the 11 locations until they run out.

You can also share your family's Buddy's story and photographs at for them to share with other generations of Buddy's fans to come. 

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