When Detroit visionaries and Little Caesars co-founders Mike and Marian Ilitch purchased the Fox Theatre building in 1987, it was not only for their new corporate headquarters; it was to carry out a vision to restore the theater to its original splendor and make the venue a destination for Detroiters and visitors worldwide.
The historic renovation of the Fox Theatre in 1988 was later fortified by a National Historic Landmark designation the following year, in 1989.
Now three decades strong, the restored Fox Theatre remains home to world-class companies operated by Little Caesars parent company, Ilitch Holdings, Inc. The building most recently has grown to offer new, street-level retail options, including the largest Starbucks on Woodward Avenue in downtown Detroit.
The national coffee chain is joined by the second location of the award-winning Cuban-inspired restaurant, Frita Batidos—located along the adjacent Columbia Street retail destination. Both outposts debuted in September.
When the historic $12.5 million restoration project was completed, it brought to life 5,048 seats covering 1.5 acres and gave way to the venue becoming the largest surviving movie palace in the United States. The Fox Theatre’s unique features has made it an attractive option for companies and organizations hosting events, including the recent U.S. Democratic presidential debates in July 2019.
The subsequent decision to move the Little Caesars home from the suburb of Farmington Hills marked the first time a corporate headquarters moved to the city of Detroit in 27 years. Today, the rapidly growing global pizza chain continues to anchor the Central Business District and has expanded its headquarters into an additional state-of-the-art building across Columbia Street, just feet away. The new 235,000-square-foot, Michigan-Made building more than doubles the size of its current headquarters at the Fox Office Building to accommodate the company’s rapid global growth, including expansions to new countries, such as the Philippines, in 2019.
The theatre, a masterpiece of Art Deco theater design and the work of self-taught architect C. Howard Crane, was the largest of a circuit of theaters built around the nation by Hungarian-American film entrepreneur William Fox. The mogul broke ground in Detroit in March 1927 and completed the building in 18 months— at a cost of over $6 million.
William Fox’s wife, Eva Leo Fox, held a prominent role in shaping the building’s interior: she is credited for the lavish décor, ambiance and atmosphere of the theater’s interior—an exuberant blend of Burmese, Chinese, Indian, Egyptian, Mexican and Persian architectural styles.
These efforts over the last 30 years have been reported to have played an “indispensable role” in Detroit’s revival and will continue to play a role in the growth of The District Detroit urban destination for years to come.