Within the past two months, the No. 2 pizza marketer-long known for its limited menu and low prices-has shifted gears by converting 30 takeout pizza units in Detroit into Italian Kitchens. An expanded menu offers lasagna, chicken, pasta, Greek salads and dessert pies, in addition to the pizza, Crazy Bread and spaghetti sold at standard Little Caesars units.
The new restaurants retain the same basic white interior of the takeout units, unlike the homey decor featured at other upscale fast-food restaurants. Some of the converted restaurants provide seating; there are 15 tables at one Italian Kitchen in suburban Troy, Mich.
But the no-frills marketer isn't attempting to attract a dine-in audience, said a company spokesman.
The main focus is boosting takeout purchases.
Although the 30-store conversion clearly represents more than a test, the company has kept relatively quiet about the new concept. An ad in a Detroit newspaper last month solicited employees, and new restaurants are receiving limited promotion through newspapers.
Cliff Freeman & Partners, New York, is the national agency for the company.
Little Caesar expects to operate 100 Italian Kitchens in Detroit by yearend. The units are open for lunch and dinner. One store manager said most customers still order pizza as the main course, supplementing it with side salads and pastas.