Home Run Inn Goes From Small Tavern to Classic Chicago Pizza Emp - FOX 32 News Chicago

Home Run Inn Goes From Small Tavern to Classic Chicago Pizza Empire

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It started as a small tavern on the South Side in the 1920s, and today you can find Home Run Inn pizzas across the country.

Although the Home Run Inn is a South Side institution, contrary to what a lot of folks believe, the name did not come from any allegiance or connection to the White Sox, but the game of baseball itself.

Across the street from the first location was once a large field, where many a baseball game was played. One day, a deep shot from the game travelled across 31st Street and struck the tavern, going through a plate glass window. The tavern was christined Home Run Inn.

The old neighborhood tavern would evolve dramatically over the decades. CEO Joe Perrino is the keeper of the flame, and it was Perrino's Italian immigrant grandparents who owned and operated the tavern.

"In 1946, pizza was his way of drawing people in. So what happened was he started to make pizzas to give away, so he would put it on the bar and people would start eating it," Perrino said.

What's hard to remember is that pizza was a new fad in the 1940s and the Home Run Inn was one of the first pizzerias in the area.

"When he came here and opened up and put the first sign up -- Pizza -- people thought that was his last name. What's a pizza? Nobody knew," Perrino said.

Amazingly, Perrino’s mother spent all of her 87 years living in a tiny house behind the restaurant.

The Home Run Inn remains a family business today. They run eight pizzerias in Chicagoland, but they are perhaps known best as Chicago's number one selling frozen pizza. It's not only popular here; frozen Home Run Pizza is now available in 25 states.

The secret is fresh, high-quality ingredients. They even make their own sausage every day.

The same formula has made customers happy for 65 years!

"I come here year after year, after year. I love this place. The pizza is good; it's a part of history. I went to the drive-in nearby. This is like home. I watched it expand and grow -- just like me," Customer Clark Carr said.

Not bad for a little South Side tavern. When they first opened in 1923, they could seat only 40. Today, it's over 500.
 

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