Little Caesars set to make return to Lawrence’s pizza market
photo by: Chad Lawhorn/Journal-World photo
The only reason I ever considered taking geometry at KU was to better understand pizza strategy. (I learned when I’m really hungry, I have my pizza pie cut into 16 pieces instead of 12.) In other words, pizza is a big deal in Lawrence, which makes it hard to believe that the third-largest pizza chain in America doesn’t already operate in Lawrence. Soon, though, it will.
Little Caesars is set to open a new location on 23rd Street, in the spot that used to house the longtime Mexican restaurant Border Bandido. Signs for the new establishment have been hung, and work is underway to renovate the space at 1528 W. 23rd St.
Indeed, Little Caesars is the third-largest pizza chain in America, and it doesn’t have a presence in Lawrence currently. It used to, though. It has operated in various places, but I believe it most recently was operating in a small space in the shopping center at Sixth and Monterrey Way that used to house Hy-Vee. But that site has been closed for a while.
Little Caesars’ new location will put it much closer to the KU campus. I don’t have details on any special plans the chain has for the restaurant. The space though, does seem to be bigger than its last location. Border Bandido, after all, was a full sit-down restaurant. (At times it was a lie-down restaurant if I went to the taco bar too many times.)
My understanding, however, is that Little Caesars really doesn’t operate sit-down restaurants. Traditionally it has been a carry-out-only type of pizza shop. However, there have been recent business articles about how Little Caesars is getting into the pizza delivery business. The chain in early 2020 partnered with DoorDash to begin delivery for the first time. Near the end of 2020, the two companies expanded the partnership so that people can order for delivery on the Little Caesars website, app or through DoorDash. So, that likely will be something the old Lawrence store didn’t have.
As far as the food, if you aren’t familiar with it, you actually probably are. It is a national pizza chain, so you likely have had the type of offerings even if you’ve never actually had a Little Caesars pizza. The menu features multiple types of crusts and toppings, ranging from the traditional to a Hawaiian version. In recent years, Little Caesars has started promoting its deep-dish pizza as Detroit-style pizza, which it probably is entitled to do. The chain got its start in 1959 in a suburb of Detroit. Its corporate headquarters is still located in the Motor City. Detroit-style pizza, as we’ve written before, uses a special rectangular pan and is baked cheese side down, which allows for some really thick crust but also a crispy crust.
Also on the menu is Crazy Bread, which comes in a variety of styles, including stuffed with toppings. Plus, there are four varieties of chicken wings, including buffalo, barbecue and garlic parmesan.
But really, I don’t need to describe the menu too much. What the chain is probably best known for is being an aggressive player in the pizza price wars. Remember its “Pizza, Pizza” slogan, which was meant to remind you that you could get two pizzas for the price of one. Value-minded pizza eaters hail Caesar.
No word on an opening date, but the project seems to be moving along. When it does open, Lawrence will have all of the top five pizza chains, as ranked by the Technomic Top 500 Chain Restaurant Report — No. 1 Pizza Hut; No. 2 Dominos; No. 3 Little Caesars; No. 4 Papa John’s; No. 5 Papa Murphy’s. The largest pizza chain that we don’t have now is Marco’s Pizza. But the one that I’ve got my eye on because it is in many area towns is No. 14, Pizza Ranch. It features all-you-can-eat pizza and fried chicken buffets. I’ve popped a button just thinking about that.