The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

Lou Malnati's Is Expanding Pizza Empire To Phoenix Next Year

By Kate Shepherd in News on Nov 3, 2015 4:34PM

Photo credit: Carlton Holls, Jr.

Lou Malnati's is taking its famous pizza to Phoenix this spring. It will be the first location outside of the Chicago area for Northbrook-based chain which operates 42 restaurants, according to Crain's.

The planned 250-seat restaurant in central Phoenix is the beginning of a larger expansion in the Southwest, if the iconic restaurant is a hit in the desert.

"If we're successful with the first one, let's just keep it rolling," CEO Marc Malnati told Crain's. "For most of my career, I've said, 'No. No. No. We're Chicago.' We are still Chicago, but you know, we see a real opportunity here."

Phoenix may seem like an unlikely choice for the restaurant's first restaurant outside of Illinois but it was carefully chosen because of the large amount of frozen pizzas Malnati's ships to the Phoenix-Scottsdale area, which is full of retired and former Chicagoans.

Malnati is taking extra care to make sure that the quality remains the same. He's transferring five top Chicago managers to Phoenix with hopes of keeping them there permanently. There will be weekly shipments of Wisconsin cheese to Phoenix and they're working with "two companies to replicate the pH of Chicago water to ensure a pie in Arizona has the same buttery and flaky crust as one baked in Chicago."