CiCi’s manager Craig Staats was grinning from ear to ear,
while exhorting his workers to likewise smile away and keep the food
flowing. And they came for that food, presented buffet-style, with
several different pizza options available plus some hot pasta, salad
and desserts, all bargain-priced at $5.49. CiCi’s Pizza has mushroomed
(forgive the pun) from its humble 1985 origins in Plano, Texas, to an
operation that numbers more than 600 outlets, with more on the way,
such as a Cicero location that is still in the works. But the DeWitt
shop gets here first, in a renovated building that formerly housed the Yukon Grill, while those with longer memories will fondly recall an earlier predecessor: Captain Ahab’s, the seafood spot run by Dave Pizio.
CiCi franchise operator Elmar Ashman, up from Raleigh, N.C.,
for the last several months to help supervise the DeWitt model,
revealed that this location can seat 220 and has also hired 60
employees to keep those piping-hot pizza pies spinning. Ashman didn’t
know what the circumference was for the mid-size yellow plates used for
the buffet but assured that four pizza slices could fit comfortably.
Some initial patrons took it upon themselves to heap plenty of slices
atop each other, then quickly inhaled them. Ashman also admitted that
the DeWitt CiCi’s differs from others in the franchise because it’s an
“FSU,” which translates as “free-standing unit” for those not hip to
the vernacular. The chain usually sets up locations in strip shopping
centers as an “end cap,” or anchor store.
Slices of life: The crowds have been long since CiCi’s
opening day (bottom), where pizzas of different character line up for
inspection (top), and served by smiling employees such as
Ashley Case (left). MICHAEL DAVIS PHOTOS
Patrons can also order pizzas to go, which will probably give fits
to the Pizza Hut that’s just down the boulevard near Thompson Road.
CiCi’s charges $5.99 for a one-topping large, while large deep-dish
pizzas and specialty pies are $9.99. Additional toppings are a dollar
each, while an apple pizza fetches $6.99. And if you hang out inside
the store and let that menu marinate in your tummy, there’s a back room
with video games aplenty for more diversions.
The DeWitt CiCi’s is currently open every day, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.,
although Ashman seems to think that later closing hours could be a
possibility if the crowds keep coming. For more information, call