By SHERRI WELCH
A Buddy’s Pizza location is set to open at the Detroit Zoo in the spring.
It will join two other Detroit food operators at the zoo, American Coney Island and Detroit Popcorn, and mark the pizza chain’s first location inside an attraction.
While a few zoos around the country sell foods made in their local markets, they do not operate branded restaurants, said Patricia Janeway, the zoo’s communications director.
Service Systems Associates, the operator of concessions, retail and grounds services for the zoo, has forged a franchise agreement with Buddy’s and is investing $600,000 to build the new, 4,434-square-foot site,
Located just west of the Ford Education Center, the new Buddy’s will have capacity for 155 people, with indoor and outdoor patio/rooftop seating that offers a view of the Rackham Fountain, the zoo said in a release.
It will be built on the current site of Detroit Popcorn, which will move to another location on the zoo’s grounds, Janeway said.
Integrity Building Group in Detroit is serving as architect and construction manager on the project.
The new eatery will be built according to Green Restaurant Association standards, incorporating such eco-friendly practices as water and energy efficiency, waste reduction and recycling, and sustainable furnishings and building materials, joining the Detroit Zoo’s Arctic Café as a GRA-certified restaurant, the zoo said.
The new eatery will offer pizza by the slice, gluten-free options, antipasto salad and a variety of pizzas, including one named for the Detroit Zoo, topped with Buddy’s signature Motor City cheese blend, roasted tomatoes, fresh basil, pine nuts and tomato-basil sauce.
The zoo, which is operating on a $42.2 million budget this year, expects to receive $2.1 million in revenue from the three Detroit-themed eateries in 2018 through a revenue-sharing agreement.