Uno Pizzeria & Grill

Last updated
Uno Pizzeria and Grill
Type Private
Industry Restaurants
Founded Chicago, Illinois
1943;78 years ago (1943)
Founders Ike Sewell
Ric Riccardo
Headquarters Boston, Massachusetts
Parent Uno Restaurant Holdings Corporation
Website unos.com
Uno Restaurant, Revere, Massachusetts in 2012 - night view Uno Restaurant.jpg
Uno Restaurant, Revere, Massachusetts in 2012 - night view

Uno Pizzeria & Grill (formerly Pizzeria Uno and Uno Chicago Grill), or more informally as Unos, is a franchised pizzeria restaurant chain under the parent company Uno Restaurant Holdings Corporation. Uno Pizzeria and Grill is best known for its Chicago-style deep dish pizza. Ike Sewell opened the first Pizzeria Uno in 1943.

Contents

History

Founding and original locations

The first Uno's was established in 1943 by former University of Texas football star Ike Sewell and his friend, former World War II G.I. Ric Riccardo, in the River North neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois. [1] Sewell originally intended to open a Mexican restaurant because "there wasn't a really decent Mexican restaurant in Chicago then." [2]

While Sewell and Riccardo are known as the owners of the original restaurant, a 1956 article from the Chicago Daily News asserts that the original deep-dish pizza recipe was created by chef Rudy Malnati Sr., the father of Lou Malnati. [ citation needed ] Pizzeria Uno claims to have originated the deep dish pizza.

Sewell opened two additional restaurants in response to Pizzeria Uno's popularity. Pizzeria Due opened one block north of the original Pizzeria Uno location in 1955 (Uno and Due are Italian for one and two). This was followed by the launch of Su Casa, an upscale Mexican restaurant, in 1965. Su Casa is located adjacent to Pizzeria Due. [3]

Franchising and expansion

The interior of the Pizzeria Uno in Harmon Meadow Plaza in Secaucus, New Jersey in 2007. This location has since closed. Secaucus Pizzeria Uno.jpg
The interior of the Pizzeria Uno in Harmon Meadow Plaza in Secaucus, New Jersey in 2007. This location has since closed.

Ike Sewell first franchised the name and concept of the restaurant to the Uno Restaurant Holdings Corporation in 1978 in the Boston area. [4] Beginning with four restaurants in Massachusetts, the chain rapidly expanded over the next decade. After Ike Sewell's death in 1990, his widow Florence sold the original properties (Uno, Due, and Su Casa) to the Boston-based corporation. CEO Aaron Spencer promised not to tamper with pizza at the original locations. [5] The restaurant chain does not have a major presence in the Chicago Metropolitan Area, with only the original Uno, Due, and Su Casa restaurants in River North. As of July 2017, Massachusetts, with 23, had the most Uno restaurants. [6]

The company began franchising in 1980. [7] As of July 2017 the company has 102 Uno Pizzeria & Grill restaurants located in 21 U.S. states plus one in the District of Columbia. Some regions have been more favorable to Uno than others. The East Coast/Midwest region continues to see growth. However, despite an aggressive push into the Southern and Western markets in the 1990s, those gains were greatly reduced as many locations closed. Franchises are also located in Honduras, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates. [6] and Kolkata (India).

Entrepreneur magazine ranked it 174th in 2003 and 252nd in 2006 in the magazine's list of the top 500 franchises. In November 2009, the company announced that after a successful pilot of Uno Express, which offers fast food, it will open at least 160 new Uno Express locations throughout 2010 into 2011. [8]

In addition to the traditional Uno restaurants, Uno offers a limited menu (mostly its pizzas) at stadiums, service plazas, and airports. Uno-branded pizzas, both thin-crust and deep-dish, are available in both fresh and frozen forms in many US supermarkets.

Format changes

Chicago-style deep dish pizza from the original Pizzeria Uno location Pizzeria Uno Chicago-style deep-dish pizza.jpg
Chicago-style deep dish pizza from the original Pizzeria Uno location
The location at 3030 West Lincoln Avenue in Anaheim, California in 2004. This picture shows the karaoke stage in the foreground. This location has since closed. PizzeriaUnoStage.jpg
The location at 3030 West Lincoln Avenue in Anaheim, California in 2004. This picture shows the karaoke stage in the foreground. This location has since closed.

Starting in 1994, [9] Uno's broadened its menu to encompass other dishes. Uno's kitchens were updated, adding sauté stations, grills, and fryers, and the company invested heavily in training. [1] [9]

In 1996, the franchise's beverage list was expanded, and by 1999 so was the portion size, reflecting a trend seen in the industry where customers are buying fewer but larger drinks. [9] New locations were larger and featured a "Chicago warehouse" look. [1] [9]

In 1997, Pizzeria Uno changed its name to Pizzeria Uno, Chicago Bar & Grill; it later simplified the name to Uno Chicago Grill.

The menu, updated again in 2005, still includes several of the restaurant's traditional specialties, particularly its deep dish pizza. [1] In the tradition of Chicago's speakeasies, more attention is paid to the bar. Uno's drink list features a dozen wines and a number of specialty drinks, including frozen, mixed and nonalcoholic options. [1]

The expanded menu and format changes were not made at the company's original Chicago locations (Pizzeria Uno and Pizzeria Due). [10]

Bankruptcy

Uno Restaurant Holdings Corp. closed 16 of its restaurants and filed for Chapter 11 protection on January 20, 2010. [11] [12] The company's initial stated intention at the time of the bankruptcy filing was to convert $142 million of Senior Secured Notes due 2011 into the new equity of the company after emergence from Chapter 11. [13] It emerged from bankruptcy on July 26, 2010, after restructuring to eliminate $14.2 million in annual interest payments and reduce total debt from $176.3 million to $40 million. [14]

Uno Due Go

The company launched a fast casual spinoff, called Uno Due Go, in 2008. The spinoff has since closed all locations as of 2020 with the Boston location closing due to a downturn in business due to COVID-19. [15] The new restaurant chain featured pizza, sandwiches, salads, and bakery items. [16] There were four locations as of April 15, 2016, mostly in airports and universities, with one in downtown Boston, [17] compared to more than 140 locations for the traditional Pizzeria Uno restaurants. [18]

See also

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References

  1. 1 2 3 4 5 Official website's history and timeline
  2. Paul Galloway (1986-01-08). "A Half-baked Story on How Deep-Dish Pizza was Created in Chicago". Chicago Tribune . p. 3.
  3. "Uno Restaurant Holdings Corporation". referenceforbusiness.com. Retrieved 20 May 2015.
  4. The Origins of Chicago Style Deep Dish Pizza
  5. Phil Vettel, restaurant critic (1993-04-16). "At 50, Uno dishes a deep slice of Chicago history". Chicago Tribune . p. 48.
  6. 1 2
  7. Franchise Zone description from the Entrepreneur magazine website.
  8. "Uno is bullish on new Uno Express format". Boston.com. November 10, 2009.
  9. 1 2 3 4 Bigger is Better at Pizzeria Uno a May 2000 article from Cheers magazine
  10. Pizzeria Uno Goes Schizophrenic Archived 2006-08-26 at the Wayback Machine a December 2005 post to the Chicagoist blog
  11. U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York, case no. 10-10209.
  12. "Uno Restaurant Holdings Corp. Voluntary Petition" (PDF). PacerMonitor. PacerMonitor. Retrieved 7 June 2016.
  13. Uno files bankruptcy Archived 2010-03-01 at the Wayback Machine
  14. "Uno Chicago Grill parent co. emerges from bankruptcy". The Boston Globe. July 26, 2010.
  15. Marc Hurwitz. "Uno Due Go Space in Downtown Boston Is For Lease" . Retrieved 10 Oct 2020.
  16. Teresa Gubbins. "Pizzeria Uno spinoff Uno Dué Go set to open in Plano". CultureMap Dallas. Retrieved 20 May 2015.
  17. "Uno Due Go: Locations". unoduego.com. Retrieved 15 April 2016.
  18. About Uno Pizzeria & Grill Pizzeria Uno site, accessed October 13, 2014