Time capsule: Buddy’s Rendezvous Pizza

In 1946, when Buddy’s Rendezvous Pizza (buddyspizza.com) served itsfirst pie, the Detroit (and U.S.) pizza scene was forever changed. Legendhas it that the square pizza recipe was developed by a Sicilian-born waitressnamed Connie, employed by then-owner Gus Guerra. After a coupleof ownership changes over the years, current owner Robert Jacobs obtainedthe business in 1970 and since then has infiltrated the suburbs;today, Buddy’s boasts nine locations in the Detroit metro area. “Squarepizza and Buddy’s Pizza are synonymous in Detroit,” says Wesley Pikula,vice president of operations. “We have deep roots, and Buddy’shas spawned many other square pizza operations over the years.”

Pikula points to the pizza’s many unique facets: It’s made in rectangularblue steel pans that offer “unique baking properties”; the doughis stretched numerous times; and the pies receive a seemingly backwardassembly process (makers first put pepperoni, then cheese,and finally sauce, atop the dough)—techniques unchanged from theoriginal days. “The entire process is labor-intensive, but gives thecharacteristics we like, with a light, crunchy crust,” explains Pikula.“It’s a labor of love—there aren’t too many shortcuts—but you have tobe 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 emailclub and online coupons, and recently added a gluten-free menu. However,its greatest passion is giving back to the community—throughthe “Got Pizza? Give Dough!” campaign for children’s charities; raisingmore than $2 million for a local soup kitchen; and its “pizza partnership”with local attractions. This year, the company will launch the MotorCity Collection of new pizzas named after Detroit institutions, thendonate portions of the sales to those nonprofits. “We’re in the toughesteconomy in the country, but customers are loyal to thebusinesses they trust,” Pikula says. “Our goal is not justto serve great pizza—we want to be a great partner in thecommunity.”