Grimaldi’s Pizzeria has officially come to Michigan.
The chain’s 50th location was the first in the state when it opened April 24 at the Southland Center in Taylor.
A ribbon cutting and grand opening ceremony was held April 27.
Area Manager Tom Doyle and restaurant general manager Jim Kelly were both excited to have a location in Michigan.
Doyle’s area stretches over several states, while Kelly is a lifelong Downriver resident who will run the day to day operations of the restaurant.
Other than the menu, which includes fresh ingredients delivered daily, Doyle said the company is high on being “green” using as much recycled material as they can. The ceiling is made out of siding off of old barns, lighting fixtures are made from old wine bottles and the cedar paneling is all untreated so it can be reused if it is ever replaced.
The restaurant will have about 75 employees, mostly working more than 30 hours a week.
Doyle said the oven, which is a coal-fired, custom built piece, is the first thing put in place when their restaurants are built.
“The entire restaurant is built around the oven,” he said. “It can hold about 20 large pizzas a time.”
Each pizza only takes about eight minutes to cook.
Kelly said the pizza at Grimaldi’s a unique in many ways.
“It’s a New York thin crust,” he said. “Everything is fresh, we cut it all ourselves, including the cheese.”
Doyle said they are known for their pizza and salads, both of which can feed four people when ordered in a large.
“It’s more in a family style,” he said. “We first started over 100 years ago. We’re a family business.”
The menu is simple, with pizza, calzones, salad, desserts and drinks.
“It’s simple,” Kelly said, “but we’re really very good at what we do.”
Doyle said expanding in Michigan is definitely a possibility if the Taylor location does well.
The restaurant sits on the Eureka Road side of the center, near Cinemark, Forever 21 and Primanti Bros.
“We encourage everyone to come out,” Mayor Rick Sollars said. “They have a beautiful patio setting.”
Rouse Properties Inc., which owns the Southland Center, said this was the fourth separate deal they’ve had with Grimaldi’s to come to their malls across the country.
“Grimaldi’s is one of the most recognized pizza restaurants in the country and we are thrilled to bring this experience a… (to) Michigan,” said Brian Harper, executive vice president of leasing and acquisitions for Rouse Properties.
Grimaldi’s was named as one of 2014’s top 50 fastest growing small restaurant chains in the country as ranked by Restaurant Business magazine, Grimaldi’s specializes in serving thin-crust pizza and calzones.
The chain, which is more than 100 years old, operates 50 restaurants in 14 states.
Rouse is a publicly-traded real estate investment trust. Headquartered in New York, Rouse owns 36 malls in 22 states, encompassing more than 25.5 million square feet of retail space. It is among the country’s largest publicly-traded regional mall owners.