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Uno Chicago Grill, formerly known as Pizzeria Uno or more informally as Unos, is the title for a franchised pizzeria restaurant chain under the parent company Uno Restaurant Holdings Corporation. The first Uno's was established in 1943 by former University of Texasmarker football star Ike Sewell and his friend, former World War II G.I. Rick Ricardo, in the River North neighborhood of Chicago, Illinoismarker. While Sewell and Ricardo are known as the owners of the original restaurant, a 1956 article from the Chicago Daily News asserts that the original recipe was created by chef Rudy Malnati, the father of Lou Malnati. Pizzeria Uno claims to have originated the deep dish pizza.

Sewell opened two additional restaurants in response to Pizzeria Uno's popularity. Pizzeria Due opened one block north of the original Pizzeria Uno location in 1955. This was followed by the launch of Su Casa, an upscale Mexican restaurant, in 1965. Su Casa is located adjacent to Pizzeria Due.

Today the Uno Restaurant Holdings Corporation is based in Boston, Massachusettsmarker, where the Uno brand was first franchised in 1979. Ironically, the restaurant chain does not have a major presence in the Chicago Metropolitan Areamarker, with only four locations in the region excluding the original Uno, Due, and Su Casa restaurants in River North.

The company began franchising in 1980
 the chain has 216 restaurants, with 85 franchises and 128 company-owned restaurants in 32 U.S. states. Some regions have been more favorable to Uno than others. The east coast/Midwest region continues to see growth. Despite an aggressive push into the Southern and Western markets in the 1990s, those gains were greatly reduced as many locations closed. Franchises are also located in Puerto Rico, South Koreamarker, Saudi Arabiamarker,  United Arab Emiratesmarker and Pakistanmarker. Entrepreneur magazine ranked it 174th in 2003 and 252nd in 2006 in the magazine's list of the top 500 franchises. In November 2009 the company announced that after a successful pilot of Uno Express which offers fast food it will open at least 160 new Uno Express locations throughout 2010 into 2011.


In addition to the traditional Uno restaurants, Uno offers a limited menu (predominately their pizzas) at stadiums, service plazas and airports. Also, Uno-branded pizzas, both thin-crust and deep-dish, are available in both fresh and frozen forms in many supermarkets in the United States.

Format changes

Pizzeria Due on Ontario Street.
Pizzeria Uno and Due one block apart.
Starting in 1994, Uno's broadened its menu to encompass other dishes. Uno's kitchens were updated, adding sauté stations, grills, and fryers, and the company invested heavily in training.

In 1996, the franchise's beverage list was expanded, and by 1999 so was the portion size, reflecting a trend seen in the industry where customers are buying fewer but larger drinks. New locations were larger and featured a "Chicago warehouse" look.

In 1997, Pizzeria Uno changed its name to Pizzeria Unos, Chicago Bar & Grill; it later simplified the name to Unos Chicago Grill.

The menu, updated again in 2005, still includes several of the restaurant's traditional specialties, particularly its deep dish pizza. In the tradition of Chicago's speakeasies, more attention is paid to the bar. Uno's drink list features a dozen wines and a number of specialty drinks, including frozen, mixed and nonalcoholic options.

The expanded menu and format changes were not made at the company's original Chicago locations (Pizzeria Uno and Pizzeria Due).

Thinzettas

A complaint filed in April 1997 by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) alleged "unfair or deceptive acts or practices, and the making of false advertisements". The complaint quoted examples in which Uno's Thinzettas were characterized as being low in fat. The FTC's complaint stated:
"In most cases respondents' Thinzettas thin crust pizzas are not low in fat. Six out of nine types of Thinzettas thin crust pizzas contained from 14 to 36 grams of fat per serving at the time of dissemination of the advertisements.


The complaint was resolved by a consent order, which required them to cease this practice, and for 20 years maintain records about their advertisements and "materials relied upon" for the claims in their ads. The company must also keep "tests, reports, studies, surveys, demonstrations, or other evidence" that "contradict, qualify, or call into question" the representations made in their ads.

Franchising

Uno Chicago Grill has franchised restaurants in San Pedro Sulamarker, Hondurasmarker; and outside the Americas in Dubaimarker, U.A.E.marker; Jeddahmarker, Saudi Arabiamarker; Dammammarker, Saudi Arabiamarker; and Seoulmarker, South Koreamarker.

References

  1. Official website's history and timeline
  2. Uno Restaurant Holdings Corporation
  3. Franchise Zone description from the Entrepreneur magazine website.
  4. Bigger is Better at Pizzeria Uno a May 2000 article from Cheers magazine
  5. Pizzeria Uno Goes Schizophrenic a December 2005 post to the Chicagoist blog
  6. Docket No. C-3730, from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) website
  7. File No. 962 3150 from the FTC website


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