Comfort food cravings and brand loyalty spark jump in sales for Home Run Inn during stay-at-home order

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago's Home Run Inn Pizza is hitting a grand slam during Illinois' stay-at-home order.

While panic buying led to empty toilet paper shelves at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was also a run on what many consider another staple: frozen pizza. And Chicago residents aren't just buying any brand.

"This is our choice of pizza," said resident Mary Falk. "When we buy frozen pizza, we buy Home Run Inn."

The same goes for Eliot Yamashiroya, who made sure to stock up during his trip to the grocery store.

"Especially the sausage and pepperoni, I want to grab one when I can," he said.

The sudden surge in sales for Home Run Inn frozen pizza started in March, coinciding with the stay-at-home order.

"It happened very quickly," said Home Run Inn CEO Dan Costello. "It was just a mad rush."

The family-owned pizza empire grew from a single restaurant on Chicago's South Side more than 70 years ago.

Since the pandemic, frozen pizza has generated most of the company's revenue.

"We're grateful for that," Costello said. "It's obviously been a little tougher on the restaurant side."

Trying to keep up with demand has been a challenge.

Home Run Inn churns out 78,000 frozen pizzas a day at its Woodridge factory. At one point, the facility shifted to a 7-day production schedule.

"We had to focus in on some core items and drop some other items we haven't made in a few weeks," Costello said.

Even after restaurants reopen, the company is betting frozen pizza will still be popular.

"It's a great comfort food and it's probably one of those things it's nice to know that you have in a pinch," he said.

Production is now down to 6 days a week at the Home Run Inn factory. The company expects to keep that schedule for awhile.
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