Buddy’s Rendezvous Pizza
According to legend, a Buddy’s waitress from Sicily invented the square pizza that would become forever associated with Detroit.
When Buddy’s Rendezvous Pizza (buddyspizza.com) served its first pie in 1946, the Detroit (and U.S.) pizza scene was forever changed. Legend has it that a Sicily-born waitress named Connie, employed by then-owner Gus Guerra, developed the square recipe that would become permanently associated with the Motor City. After a couple of ownership changes over the years, current owner Robert Jacobs obtained the business in 1970 and since then has infiltrated the suburbs; today, Buddy’s boasts 11 locations in the Detroit metro area. “Square pizza and Buddy’s Pizza are synonymous in Detroit,” says Wesley Pikula, vice president of operations. “We have deep roots, and Buddy’s has spawned many other square pizza operations over the years.”
Pikula points to the pizza’s many unique traits: For starters, it’s made in rectangular blue steel pans that offer “unique baking properties.” The dough is stretched numerous times, and the pies receive a seemingly backward assembly process—pizza makers first put pepperoni, then cheese, and finally sauce, atop the dough. These techniques remain unchanged from Buddy’s original days. “The entire process is labor-intensive, but it gives the characteristics we like, with a light, crunchy crust,” Pikula says. “It’s a labor of love—there aren’t too many shortcuts—but you have to be committed to the product and maintain it.”
Buddy’s is a constant presence on “best of” lists, both local and nationwide, but the business doesn’t rest on its laurels; it offers an email club, online coupons and a gluten-free menu. The company also makes sure to give back to the community. Its “Got Pizza? Give Dough!” campaign drums up financial support for children’s charities, while Buddy’s has also raised millions of dollars for a local soup kitchen. In 2011, the company launched the Motor City Collection of pizzas named after Detroit institutions and donated portions of the sales to those nonprofits. Other charitable campaigns have included the Great Lakes Pizza Collection and the Buddy Bone. “We’re in the toughest economy in the country, but customers are loyal to the businesses they trust,” Pikula says. “Our goal is not just to serve great pizza—we want to be a great partner in the community.” –Tracy Morin