HomeMade Pizza Co. abruptly shuts down

HomeMade Pizza Co. has abruptly shut down its take-and-bake pizza stores.

The Chicago-based chain offered ready-to-bake pizzas made with local, fresh ingredients, pitting itself against competitors ranging from pizza restaurants to grocery stores. A company co-founder and a store manager confirmed the shutdown.

Efforts to reach Chicago-based HomeMade Pizza Co. and its officials on Monday were unsuccessful. Along with the closing of an estimated 22 retail outlets on Friday, HomeMade Pizza appears to have shut down its website.
The move comes after sales slipped last year at U.S. pizza establishments focused solely on take home and delivery, according to industry data.

The privately held chain was founded in 1997 by brothers-in-law Eric Fosse and Matthew Weinstein, who are no longer affiliated with the company.
Fosse sent an email about the closing to his friends, saying that HomeMade “will always occupy a special place in my heart.”

“After bringing in large outside investors several years ago, I was ready to step back and move into the next phase of my career. The investors brought in new leadership that we'd hoped would allow HomeMade to grow and prosper well into the future. Unfortunately for all involved, the strategy they embraced did not succeed,” Fosse wrote in the email, which he forwarded to the Tribune.

A general manager at a HomeMade Pizza in Chicago said that he learned about the closing in a phone call Friday from a superior. The general manager, who declined to be named, said he was told that the company's debt had built up too high for the investors' tastes.

Matthew Pritzker, an investor in the company, could not be reached for comment. It is not clear if Pritzker retained a stake at the time of the shutdown.

Fosse, the co-founder, said that he was sorry for the employees and customers. He said that he had still been a customer, getting the product weekly. He had not been with the company since early 2013 and is currently working on opening a restaurant in the West Loop, after opening Guildhall in Glencoe in 2013.

U.S. households spent an average of $307.20 per household on pizza in 2013, down from $308.30 per household in 2012, according to data from Euromonitor International.

Last year, sales slipped at U.S. pizza establishments focused solely on take home and delivery, according Euromonitor data. Sales at those locations fell 0.4 percent in 2013, to nearly $18.19 billion, after rising each year from 2010 to 2012.

Sales at various types of U.S. pizza restaurants rose just 0.6 percent to $37.55 billion in 2013. That marked a significantly slower pace than the 4.8 percent increase recorded for 2012, according to Euromonitor.

Other pizza-focused chains have been struggling. Sbarro filed for bankruptcy in March for the second time in three years as fewer people visit malls. Traditional pizza places are also on notice as fast-casual pizza restaurants, such as Blaze Pizza and Pizzeria Locale are popping up. Those concepts aim to make pizzas quickly, using very hot ovens, after patrons order.

The news was first reported by Crain's Chicago Business.

Follow @JessicaWohl Follow @chibreakingbiz

Copyright © 2015, RedEye
Related Content
  • HomeMade Pizza
    HomeMade Pizza

    HomeMade Pizza Co. was started in 1997 and offered pizzas that customers would bake at home.

  • Telegraph closing, 'reconcepting'
    Telegraph closing, 'reconcepting'

    Telegraph restaurant in Logan Square will close after service on June 7 in order to change its concept, its owners said Thursday in a press release. They hope to reopen in early July, without the wine-centric restaurant's executive chef, Johnny Anderes. The owners called Anderes' departure "an...

  • Hot Doug's closing doors for good in October
    Hot Doug's closing doors for good in October

    In this, our city built on encased meats, where a condiment like ketchup is holy sacrilege, where relish can only look like it’s been exposed to plutonium-239, there is but one abiding truth: Chicago takes its hot dogs seriously.

  • Photos: Chicago's must-try dishes
    Chicago's must-try dishes

    Every week in our Dining section, Tribune writers tell readers to Eat This! Check in for the latest drool-worthy dish.

  • Rain on Sunday and relatively cool week ahead
    Rain on Sunday and relatively cool week ahead

    With low pressure moving through the Chicago area from the west, Sunday looks to be a cloudy, windy, cool day and the prelude to a cool week ahead. Highs on Sunday will struggle to rise out of the 50s with a strong east to southeast wind holding lakefront readings closer to the 50-degree mark....

  • 1 killed, 4 wounded in city shootings
    1 killed, 4 wounded in city shootings

    One man was killed, and at least four others were wounded in shootings across the city since Saturday afternoon.

  • Chicago Blackhawks vs. Nashville Predators: Game 2 in Hawks players statistics
    Chicago Blackhawks vs. Nashville Predators: Game 2 in Hawks players statistics

    Well that escalated quickly. The Predators got off to an early lead against the Hawks and kept that momentum throughout the game, exploding in the third period for a 6-2 win against the Hawks. Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp were the only two Hawks to score in Friday's game. Here's a breakdown of...

  • Baconfest Chicago 2015
    Baconfest Chicago 2015

    Sweet, salty, savory and satisfying. That just about sums up Baconfest 2015 in all its glory. With all three sessions of Baconfest sold out, event planners expected 4,500 guests to indulge in about 8,000 pounds of bacon. More than 170 restaurants served up deliciously creative bacon-inspired dishes...