Mother of two young children looking to make them smile in the city of Sydney without breaking the bank. Visit my blog at www.mysplendidfamily.com to see what else I get up to.
Published January 2nd 2017
Caesar ruled the mighty Roman Empire Can he rule pizza too?
Often there is a lot of talk when a new overseas chain starts up in Australia, but Little Ceasars seems to be taking the softly, softly approach. Little Caesars is an American Pizza Chain - the third largest behind Pizza Hut and Dominoes - and it has started popping up in Sydney. It opened a Casula store in 2014, using it to research and tweak its Australian offering. They have revised their pizza sizes and pricing since Weekend Notes covered their Casula opening. With a Parramatta store opening in September 2016 and a Miranda store opening in late December 2016, they now seem to be ready to get serious in Australia.
Little Caesars offer a HOT-N-READY service where a limited number of pizzas are ready and waiting to go. They serve additional pizzas that you need to wait for. Unique Little Caesars offerings include Caesar Wings (available HOT-N-READY and in different flavours) and Cinnamon Bites (bread topped with cinnamon, sugar, and icing which are also available HOT-N-READY). The Pepsi range of drinks is available for purchase.
In addition to their unique offerings, Little Caesars try to differentiate themselves from other pizza stores in a few ways with "dough made fresh daily at every store", "sauce never from concentrate", and "Our 12-inch pizza is 19% larger than the 11-inch large pizza that most others sell". I was also told in-store that the pepperoni was American pepperoni but this doesn't seem to be part of their official marketing. I found their sauce angle a little confusing. Are they trying to say tomato paste is evil to use on a pizza? Perhaps it is an issue in America and it just doesn't make sense as a promotional point in Australia? And I'm no foodie, but is American pepperoni special?
We went to the new Miranda store and tried their Cheese Pizza and their Pepperoni Pizza which are both part of their HOT-N-READY offering. We chose these pizzas because they were part of a first week opening special. Normally these pizzas cost $5 each. The pizzas look just like one you might get from Pizza Hut. The pizzas bases were pan pizzas done to perfection. The Cheese Pizza was a disappointment - it tasted like a Pepperoni Pizza that had missed out on pepperoni - it doesn't stand in its own right like some cheese pizzas do. The Pepperoni Pizza, however, was liked by all. The pepperoni is thinly sliced and with a mild zing that pleased our pepperoni lover but didn't scare off the pizza eater who can't handle it too hot. Both pizzas had a fresh tomato taste to the tomato sauce.
Based on our first experience we'd definitely consider Little Caesars in the future if we want to buy a fast food style pizza but I can't say we were overly convinced by any of the marketing and there isn't much to differentiate Little Caesars' pizzas from other fast food pizzas in terms of taste.
Their Miranda store location is a bit of genius. The previous tenant was Video Ezy so the store has everything you would have expected from a video store - a prime position at the front of Parkside Plaza with an entry external for late night trading - just the right setup for a last minute run to the pizza shop. Miranda is full of huge high-density apartment blocks so presumably lots of potential clientele within a short walk. For those who live further afield, the store offers a moped delivery service. The Miranda store does not offer drive through like the Casula store does so it seems Little Caesars will only provide drive through when it suits the site.
So does Pizza Hut have anything to fear from Little Caesars? Not for a long time in my opinion. Little Caesars has almost zero brand recognition here in Australia. Its marketing seems to not quite hit the mark, and there isn't a convincing differentiator between Little Caesars and other fast food pizza outlets. And with Eagle Boys' collapse in July 2016, you have to ask if there is room in the market for another big pizza chain. But Little Caesars aren't silly or new to the game - the Miranda store location shows good thinking. However, Little Caesars offers franchises - it may take a long time to convince local franchise investors to take a risk on the locally unknown Little Caesars. But then again, Rome wasn't built in a day...
What do you think? Will Little Caesars do well in Australia? Have you visited the Casula or Parramatta stores? Leave your comments below.