Home Run Inn

EricS.

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This pizzeria, named after an errant baseball, has hit home runs in the frozen-food and family markets.

Home Run Inn began in 1923 as a small tavern on Chicago’s South Side. Founded by Mary and Vincent Grittani, the tavern received its name when a baseball from the neighborhood park smashed through one of the windows. It wasn’t until their son-in-law Nick Perrino returned from an Army stint in World War II that Nick and Mary began experimenting with pizza recipes. By 1947, they were giving pizza out to bar patrons to attract the drinking crowd, but when people started requesting the pizza specifically, they decided to sell pies, both in-store and to the masses.

“In the 1950s, we were one of the first places in the country to do frozen pizzas,” says Dan Costello, Nick’s grandson and president of the restaurant division. “My grandfather would par-bake pizzas and sell them to grocery stores for retail.” Today, that frozen pizza legacy has expanded widely: Home Run frozen pizzas are now available in more than 20 states and are made at the same commissary that prepares all major ingredients (dough, sauce, cheese and sausage) for the restaurants.

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Once the tavern embraced its pizzeria status, it expanded from a 10-seat bar to a 50-seat restaurant. Today, the original location seats 600. The second location, in Darien, Illinois, opened in 1987 under current CEO Joe Perrino, Nick’s son. But despite having grown to nine locations, the company is still a family business—and a hit with families. “We love to hear the pizza stories people tell us, about how couples went on their first date here or kids remember going with their fathers after a baseball game,” Costello says. Accordingly, recent marketing efforts have targeted families, such as the Sunday Fun Day events the stores hold in October, with free ice cream scoops for kids, face painting and magicians. The goal is to create experiences that kids will remember when they grow up—and secure a new generation of Home Run Inn fans. —Tracy Morin

homeruninnpizza.com

20 Comments

  1. JOYCE MACGIRVINReply
    March 19, 2015 at 5:21 pm

    HAD ONE OF MY FIRST DATES WITH MY HUBBY 50 YEARS AGO. YOU HAVE COME A LONG WAY BABY!!!!

  2. Tom JReply
    March 19, 2015 at 5:34 pm

    I grew up in the area in the early 1960s. The pizza has always been the best I have had anywhere. I now live in Ohio where you can’t get great pizza. I visited the original HRI on Monday and Tuesday. It hasn’t changed a bit. Consistent as ever. That’s the key to their success!

  3. TOM PUDLOReply
    March 19, 2015 at 6:57 pm

    I WORKED FOR WESTERN ELECTRIC HAWTHORNE WORKS FOR ABOUT 23 YEARS MOST OF THE TIME WAS ON THE 11-7 SHIFT. JUST ABOUT TWICE A MONTH WOULD STOP AND PICK UP 5 TO 10 PIZZA FOR MY EMPLOYEE THAT WORKED FOR ME ON 11-7 FOR OUR LUNCH AT 2:20AM IN THE MORNING. EVERYBODY LOVED FRIDAY NIGHT I HAD A GREAT GROUP OF EMPLOYEE THAT WORK FOR ME. THE PIZZA ARE GREAT I BELEIVE WE START GOING TO HOME RUN INN AROUND 1970 THRU 1983 GREAT PIZZA KEEP UP THE GREAT JOB.

    • kathyReply
      March 22, 2015 at 4:56 pm

      Did you know a Bill Vrba from Berwyn, Illinois?

  4. Keith BlahaReply
    March 20, 2015 at 4:11 pm

    I grew up on 28th and Springfield and have very fond memories of walking there many times with my Dad to pick up a pizza or two. My Dad started going there when he was in High School at Farragut. I feel very fortunate to have grown up playing ball at Lawndale Park, knowing Nick, and having the greatest pizza Chicago has to offer.

  5. ThomReply
    March 20, 2015 at 10:28 pm

    My Uncle Al and the founder, Joe, went to college together. I remember the original tavern had a small eating area in the back, near the window where you’d pick up your pizza’s.

  6. Donna ErwinReply
    March 21, 2015 at 8:01 am

    I climbed that fence so many times with my cousins. Great memories. Donna Erwin

  7. Donna ErwinReply
    March 21, 2015 at 8:03 am

    I climbed that fence so many times with my cousins. Great memories. Donna Erwin

  8. lisaReply
    March 21, 2015 at 11:16 am

    I grew up 2 blocks away in this neighborhood in the 60s..remember walking into it to get pizza with dad…still my favorite!

  9. Lawrence McculloughReply
    March 21, 2015 at 11:21 am

    I remember in the early sixties my father had a white friend who would go there and purchase home run pizzas because they didn’t want my father in the store because he was blackwe used to lay down in the backseat of the car so no one will see us

    • ERNESTReply
      February 14, 2017 at 1:09 pm

      Wow I grew up in chicago in the 60’s , we had homerun inn pizza too, loved it, I guess my. Black father must have used a white friend also, oh well I’m just glad I had the experience. Things have changed so much, my daughter works there LOL.

  10. Joshua MoskalskiReply
    March 21, 2015 at 3:37 pm

    my grandfather delivered their original pizza ovens. Went there all the time when I was a kid. I live in Alabama now and I am so happy we have frozen pizzas here. It reminds me of Chicago.

  11. Rick TomanReply
    March 22, 2015 at 2:36 pm

    Growing up I played Little League and Pony League baseball across the street at Keeler Park—–it was always a treat to eat Home Run Inn pizza after a game–win or lose——great memories I now live in Southern California where the pizza is not so great —except at a couple of places

  12. Connor LReply
    March 22, 2015 at 9:07 pm

    I grew up on home run in pizza. Now that I live in Arizona, Home Run Inn pizza is nowhere to be found. (A tragedy for this pizza lover) Please start sending Home Run Inn pizza to Phoenix!! Theres tons of Chicagoans down here that miss it!

  13. PatReply
    March 26, 2015 at 8:46 am

    I grew up over the bridge from there in Cicero and we would go there all the time for pizza. Have great memories of the place. I also live in Southern California and have not found a good pizza that even comes close to Home Run Inns. I would even settle for the the frozen ones if they s sold them here.

  14. October 13, 2015 at 7:03 pm

    […] Run Pizza was awarded Pizza Hall of Fame in February, 2015, so be sure to connect with […]

  15. Terry SuperczynskiReply
    May 12, 2016 at 2:02 am

    Terryt
    Loved Home Run Inn Pizza since the late 50-s. My whole family lived in the general area of their original location on 31st St. Went into the Army in 1966 and came back from Viet Nam and first food that I wanted with my old friends was Home Run Inn. Now living in Las Vegas, but every time back in Chicago I have to go back there. (But of course the Perino family were customers and personal friends) I would always entertain customers there knowing they would love it.

  16. March 22, 2017 at 3:54 am

    You can certainly see your enthusiasm in the article you write.The arena hopes for even more passionate writers such asyou who aren’t afraid to say how they believe. At all times go after your heart.

  17. May 8, 2017 at 10:39 am

    I love this raw vegan dish, it looks wonderful. So glad that I found your site, I cook a lot of my food by occassionally try going raw. A dehydrator would help, I need one of those, It just doesn’t work in the oven.

  18. May 24, 2017 at 7:10 am

    Rom 5:12 Therefore, just as tsin came into the world through one man, and udeath through sin, and so death spread to all men5 because wall sinned—

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