Detroit Pizza War Heats Up

Domino’s artisan pizzas hope to take larger slice from metro Detroit’s competitors.

Promising a better tasting pizza, Domino’s Pizza Inc. recently debuted an artisan pizza collection — billed as having a gourmet taste with a not so gourmet price.


The collection — Spinach and Feta, Italian Sausage and Pepper Trio, and Tuscan Salami and Roasted Veggie — is designed to appeal to taste rather than convenience, says Tim McIntyre, Domino’s vice president of communications.


“We wanted to take advantage of that momentum, and go further and provide people with yet another quality pizza,” McIntyre says. “It was really taking (our) expertise one step further and trying to introduce to America the concept of (Domino’s) not only (making) good food — we can make gourmet food.” 


Domino’s has been on a roll of late, having generated a 9.9 percent increase in U.S. revenue last year as well as being recognized as the world leader in pizza delivery as’s most recent Chain of the Year. The public company, based in Ann Arbor, hopes its new pizza can take a slice out of their Michigan-based competitors, which include Little Caesars, Hungry Howie’s, Jet’s Pizza, and Buddy’s Pizza.


 For example, Buddy’s Pizza, with multiple locations in metro Detroit, has operated for more than 65 years by delivering quality ingredients, products, and customer service, says Robert Jacobs, owner of Buddy’s Pizza. “(We’re) quite unique, and we’re very consistent,” he maintains. “When you come to Buddy’s, you get what you’re expecting. There is an experience that you’re looking for.”


Introducing one of the first square deep dish, coined as the “Detroit styled” pizza, Buddy’s has earned several awards in recent years from the likes of The Food Network, GQ magazine, Pizza Today, and Food & Wine magazine. 


Buddy’s also has strived to tout its hometown roots, having recently partnered with various Detroit institutions to create a Motor City Pizza Collection. Working with such institutions as the Detroit Zoo, the Parade Company, Henry Ford Museum, and the Detroit Institute of Arts, Buddy’s has crafted unique flavored pizzas. For each pie sold, Buddy’s donates $1 to the respective organization. 


During a recent visit to the Buddy’s Pizza store in Farmington Hills, Derrick Rose says he was drawn by taste. He had not yet tried Domino’s new offerings. “Domino’s Pizza wouldn’t be considered gourmet, they aren’t known for that,” he says. “They’re fast, quick, and convenient, (while) Buddy’s keeps it fresh, the customer service is excellent, and it’s a nice clean family environment.”


Ron Hoffman, president of R.J. Hoffman & Associates, a marketing, advertising, and public relations firm in Grosse Pointe – agrees Buddy’s product quality, along with the mastering of basic marketing, gives Buddy’s a leg up in the local marketplace. 


“Product, price, place, and promotion — if you have those four things, you’re going to succeed,” says Hoffman, who follows the food industry. “It’s not just about taste; it’s about fun and atmosphere. One (pizza) comes in a cardboard box, and you have to go home and create your own fun.”