The First Pizza Place in Michigan, 1949
There are two Michigan pizza places that are noted as Michigan "firsts".
The first official pizza restaurant is Fricano's Pizza Tavern, which opened in Grand Haven in 1949, owned by Gus Fricano.
The other one of note is Buddy's. Now, to avoid any arguments, it's known that Buddy's in Detroit made the first square pizza back in 1946. At the time, the place was called 'Buddy's Rendezvous' and was not an official 'pizza restaurant'. It acquired the name 'Buddy's Pizzeria' afterward...and they make one heckuvan awesome pizza. Buddy's defined – and I guess you could say 'created' - Detroit-style pizza.
So Buddy's made pizza first, but Fricano's was the first actual pizzeria. Make sense?
Check out some info on Buddy's HERE.
As for the Fricano's backstory: going back to the 1940s, when Gus left the Navy after WW2, he went back to Grand Haven and began working at a milk company. After realizing this was getting nowhere, he figured the only way to make money was to have his own business.
On the east end of Grand Haven was the old Ottawa Tavern, an 1800s boarding house; Gus saw it was for sale, borrowed money from a reluctant uncle, and opened his own tavern in 1949. His mother cooked the food: spaghetti, chili, sandwiches, fried chicken, etc. Gus knew he needed a food that was different...something to make people take notice.
During a trip to Chicago he saw signs for pizza, and that's when the lightbulb went off. back in Michigan, he purchased some pizza ovens and coaxed his mom into helping him find a unique recipe to make his pizzas the best. Mom was reluctant but gave in...and after many tastings of many test pies, he introduced his pizza to customers. Most Michiganders had no idea what a pizza was...but soon, after many free giveaways and word of mouth, Fricano's soon had lines out the door waiting to get in. Now known as Fricano's Pizza Tavern, they still have those lines 70 years later!
Wanna find out for yourself what the big fusses are all about?
Fricano's is located at 1400 Fulton Street, Grand Haven...
Buddy's Pizzeria - the creators of 'Detroit-Style Pizza' is at 31800 Northwestern Highway in Farmington Hills...then decide for yourself which is your favorite!
Michigan's First Pizza Place