People can eat their pizza-loving hearts out
at CiCis. Even the pizza biz, though, doesn’t come without
its share of gossip. CiCis has seen some ups and downs since its
inception. Keep watching to get the straight sauce on
the untold truth of CiCis. CiCis is synonymous with pizza. And for good reason: until 2015, the brand
was called Cici’s Pizza. Not only did they drop the “pizza” part from
their name, they also dumped the apostrophe, causing mass confusion over just whose restaurant
chain this is anymore. But there was a reason behind the madness. By changing from Cici’s Pizza, to simply “CiCis,”
the chain hoped to emphasize that they have a lot more to offer than a slice of pie. They also offer salad, soups, pastas, wings,
desserts — and even a game room — and they don’t want you to forget that, which
might be why their new slogan is “Beyond Pizza.” Sarah McAloon, CiCis Chief Marketing Officer,
said in a press release, “CiCis believes that differences are what
make life most flavorful, so the new brand positioning underscores our promise to empower
individuals through the freedom of the buffet to find the tastes they love.” Along with the new name, CiCis also unveiled
a new abstract logo, which is comprised of different colored triangles coming together
to form something that looks… kinda like a pizza? And in 2016, they completed the rebranding
with redesigned restaurants, including a new color palette to match their logo, new seating,
and an upgraded layout and buffet design that makes everything from the food to the games
more accessible. Though the name of the chain is CiCis, the
restaurant was actually founded by a guy named Joe Croce, who opened the first location back
in 1985. While other major pizza chain owners went
on to become minor celebrities, like Little Caesars founder Mike Illitch and Papa John
Schnatter, Croce was a different sort of owner. Franchise owner told PizzaMarketplace that
Croce put people first and profit second, even lending money out of his own pocket to
help people he believed in get a start with the chain. “That man loaned me — a married father of
four making $35,000 a year — $146,000. It was a handshake deal.” In 2003, Croce announced in a press release
that he had decided to sell CiCis and retire at the age of 44 in order to focus on his
family. “I will be leaving CiCis to become a full-time
husband and father to my young family.” In keeping with his philosophy, though, he
insisted that the chain would only be sold to the people he trusted most: the other members
of his executive board. And he also donated 20% of the profit from
the sale of the chain to his local church in Texas. Talk about walking the walk! To think that if Joe Croce followed his degree
and not his passion, it’s possible the entire concept of the pizza buffet may not exist. Croce graduated college with an accounting
degree, but after jumping into a job as an accountant, he realized his real passion was
pizza. At the time, pizza places were either carry
out or delivery, and though Joe loved how pizza brought joy to people’s lives, he felt
that with the current pizza model, something was missing. So he created a sit down pizza joint with
an unlimited pizza buffet. It wasn’t until the ‘90s that Pizza Hut
followed suit with their own pizza buffet, but unlike CiCis, their version was only available
on weekends or as part of the lunch menu. Thanks, CiCis! With more than a dozen varieties of pizza
on the buffet at CiCis it’s hard to not find something to love, but CiCis custom-ordering
program makes sure there is truly a pizza for everyone. Guests looking to bite into their favorite
pizza combination can rest assured that if they can’t find it on the buffet, CiCis will
make it for them — in a personal size meant just for them. Pizza lovers can choose a traditional or flatbread
option, add their choice of sauce, and pick up to four toppings to add to their personal
pizza for no extra cost to the buffet price. And the personal pizza is still part of CiCis
famous buffet, so guests can still enjoy unlimited salad, dessert and more pizza. Don’t get too excited, though, because the
unlimited pizza is actually limited to just one customizable pizza per customer. If you want seconds, you’ll have to choose
from choices already on the buffet. That’s not the only limit on unlimited buffets. Multiple people online have claimed they were
told they had exceeded the maximum amount of pizza allowed by the chain. A Redditor, for instance, posted that they
were asked to leave after downing 22 slices, while another patron revealed on the IGN forums
that they were shut off after an incredible 52 slices. So next time you’re tempted to test just how
unlimited the unlimited buffet is, now you know that even CiCis has its limits. There’s also one other thing about the buffet
you should probably know: that food might not be nearly as fresh as you expect. Oh, sure, CiCis says that their buffet is
a place you’ll find pizza “hot ‘n’ fresh right out of the oven,” but the truth is that some
of their locations haven’t been up to par, leading to health code violations. “We’re here cause you’re on Dirty Dining
this week for when you were shut down for the rat infestation!” For instance, in Lincoln, Nebraska a CiCis
was cited for 13 different violations. Some of those violations included too low
of temperatures and items sitting out on the buffet for far longer than customers probably
care to know. And at another location, this time in Georgia,
a CiCis was cited during a health inspection for not noting the times they were placing
pizzas out on the buffet. This location too was cited for temperatures
being too low, specifically for the pizza sauce. The funny thing about the timing of the inspections
is that both restaurant violations came after CiCis was said to have implemented electronic
timers on the buffet line. These timers are supposed to flash yellow
indicating when it’s time to remove the pizza from the buffet and replace with a fresh one,
leaving no excuse for a violation. Although all CiCis restaurants are individually
owned, it’s hard not to judge all by the actions of some, so you may want to take a good long
look at the items on the buffet next time you’re filling up your plate — or ask an
employee how long they’ve been there. CiCis has been recognized as a kid-friendly
restaurant, and it’s not just because it has an array of different food options for picky
eaters. CiCis also prepares for those who need the
food and entertainment combo on a family night out, or a place for kids to escape while parents
enjoy some adult time. That’s why CiCis has a game room. From air hockey to arcade games and even a
few where you can win some prizes, CiCis is making their restaurants more than a place
to eat, but also to have a little fun. Before you find your lips stained and fingers
with pizza sauce, grab some tokens and play some arcade games. Then after your dessert of cinnamon rolls,
play a little air hockey to round out the night. Some CiCis locations even have a few coin
operated toys to ride, for little ones not quite ready to bring their A game to the arcade. In 2016, CiCis fell victim to a data breach
that affected at least 135 restaurants across the country. Hackers had tricked employees into installing
card-stealing software at the affected stores, and when customers were swiping credit cards
at the register, data was captured. The number of credit cards affected during
the beach were upwards of 600,000. How does a hacker trick someone into causing
such mass chaos? According to experts, the hackers actually
used social pressure rather than anything super high tech – they just called the locations
and conned the employees into installing the malware themselves. CiCis is not the only chain to fall victim
to a malware attack like this, though. 41 million customers were affected due to
a Target data breach. After Target, Home Depot fell victim to the
largest point-of-sale hack of all time. 56 million credit cards were affected during
that breach. If you’re a pizza lover looking for a way
to make a little extra money, it may be time to sign up for CiCis Pizza Challenge. Grab a friend, scrounge up $50 and make sure
you go hungry because you won’t reap the reward without eating an extremely large pizza. To take part in CiCis Pizza Challenge teams
must eat every bit of a 28-inch pizza and down two 32-ounce drinks in under an hour. Pizza lovers from across all CiCis location
compete against each other and the team who completes the challenge the fastest not only
goes home with a stomach full of pizza, but a grand prize of $2,500. The 2019 CiCis Pizza Challenge pitted 36 teams
against each other. Out of 36, only six were able to scarf down
every bite and they all did it in less than 30 minutes. The fastest challenge team, hailing from Chicago,
named themselves the Glutton Force Five. They downed an entire 28-inch pizza in an
impressive seven minutes and 25 seconds. Most CiCis restaurants are franchised. Now, thanks to the CiCis Patriot Program,
veterans are getting a chance to join in on the front line of the business world. CiCis launched their Patriot Program in 2012
allowing extensive savings to qualified U.S. veterans interested in franchising CiCis. CiCi’s Chief Operating Officer says the
program was launched as a way to, quote, “express our gratitude and deepen our brand’s commitment
to veterans.” Through the CiCis Patriot Program veterans
pay no franchise fee and, in addition, during the first year the restaurant is open, veteran
franchise owners also receive a 50 percent royalty fee reduction. Franchisee George Cox said in a press release
that as a veteran he is “proud to be a part of a company that is dedicated
to helping more veterans succeed in the civilian and business community. […] The new CiCi’s Patriot Program presents
an opportunity to explore franchising as a career path and I hope more veterans take
advantage of it and join our CiCi’s family.” If there’s one place in America other than
Nashville that’s synonymous with country music, it’s Branson, Missouri, where some of the
biggest stars in the world gather nightly to perform good old fashioned country and
western classics. It’s the rootinest, tootinest country jamboree
this side of Hee Haw. Wait, country music? We know what you’re thinking. “What the f— does that have to do with
pizza?” “…I dunno.” But actually, it turns out that the largest
CiCis in the whole world is located in Branson. Measuring over 13,000 square feet, the Branson
CiCis boasts a 40-foot buffet with expansive seating that can hold nearly 400 pizza lovers
at one time. And in addition to the massive seating area,
the Branson CiCis also has two party rooms: the so-called “ready-to-go” pizza area and
a $1 million game room. You may lose yourself, or at least track of
time, as you make your way through 5,000 square feet of fun. Are you guilty of donating what could’ve been
your college fund in quarters to claw machines? Well, get ready, because at the Branson CiCis
it looks like you’ll be doing it again. With several to choose from, they can get
addicting. If you tire from raising and lowering the
claw arm, head on over and roll your luck in the even more classic game of Skee-Ball
or take a chance at racking up tickets on games that will win you prizes. So the next time you’re heading down to Branson’s
76 strip to enjoy the famous Navy Pier ferris wheel, adventure resort, rope courses and
coasters, you’ll know where to stop for an energy boost. Country music and pizza. Does life get any better? Check out one of our newest videos right here! Plus, even more Mashed videos about your favorite
pizza joints are coming soon. Subscribe to our YouTube channel and hit the
bell so you don’t miss a single one.