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Emmy Squared offers premium Detro

Emmy Squared offers premium Detroit-style pizza as well as burgers and craft cocktails

Emmy Squared is a 27-unit casual-dining chain specializing in Detroit-style pizza, but it also has a cult-favorite burger, craft cocktails, and a focus on premium products.

The concept is a spinoff of Pizza Loves Emily, a two-unit restaurant founded in Brooklyn, N.Y., with wood-burning ovens making the sorts of craft pies that require experienced pizzaioli to make consistently. It also has a very popular Emmy Burger, made with dry-aged beef, caramelized onions, Grafton cheddar cheese, and “Emmy Sauce,” a blend of kewpie mayonnaise, gochujang, fish sauce, and vinegar, on a pretzel bun.

Founders Emily and Matt Hyland wanted to expand with a more easily replicable product and landed on Detroit-style pies, the cheese-crusted delicacies baked in the same heavy metal pans that are used in automobile production.

“It’s much easier from a consistency standpoint to grow a brand like Emmy Squared than it would be to grow a hand-stretched pizza concept,” said restaurant industry veteran Howard Greenstone, who partnered with the Hylands in 2016 to develop Emmy Squared, meaning they were a few years ahead of their time when they embraced that particular pizza style.

The pizzas are baked in those standardized rectangular pans and run through a conveyor belt oven, “so they’re perfectly cooked every time, and that allows us to open multiple locations without having product variation,” Greenstone said.

“We consider ourselves to be the leaders in the Detroit-style pizza space, other than what happens in Detroit itself,” he added

Although still partners, the Hylands are no longer involved in day-to-day operations of the restaurants.

Unlike most pizzerias, Emmy Squared has as many dine-in customers as off premises ones, and unlike most chains, each location looks a bit different from the others.

“We look for 2nd generation restaurants that are in neighborhood locations that have high density of residential, hopefully some tourism if we’re lucky, and some good walk-by traffic if we can,” Greenstone said.

They tend to be smallish — 1,500-2,500 square feet — with kid-friendly menus including kid-sized pizza sticks, burgers and fresh chicken bites, plus corn, carrots, or pineapple that can be substituted for fries, as well as games for them to play.

The pizzas are all customizable, as pizzas tend to be, but Emmy Squared also has unique craft pies. Greenstone the chain was early in topping pepperoni pizza with jalapeño peppers and honey, now a common combination. Among Emmy Squared’s other creative pies are the Seoul Mate — kimchi, sausage, peppers, and mushrooms — and the vegan Artie Bucco, made with confit garlic, caramelized onions, basil, and Violife aged shredded mozzarella alternative.

“We consider ourselves to be well positioned as a neighborhood restaurant,” he said.

A modified version of the Emmy Burger is available at most locations, as well as Le Big Matt, made with smashed patties of grass-finished beef, American cheese, greens, pickles, and a sambal-based “Sammy sauce.”

Sides include some of the fare you’d expect at a pizzeria, such as cheesy garlic sticks and chicken wings, as well as cucumbers marinated in with soy and sesame, and waffle fries topped with pimento cheese, scallions, bacon, and ranch. The mozzarella sticks are made with hand-stretched buffalo mozzarella.

Shareable Caesar, Brussels sprouts, and chopped Italian salads are available, too.

The average check is around $25-$35, Greenstone said.

Most Emmy Squared locations are in New York City, but there are also locations in Philadelphia and Nashville as well as in North Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, and Kentucky.

New locations are opening this year in Durham, N.C., and the Miami area.

Those are all company-owned, but there are also licensed locations in Saudi Arabia, Dubai, and Abu Dhabi, as well as one in Santa Monica, Calif.

Greenstone said the chain is getting ready to expand franchising opportunities.

“We are preparing our docs and we would love to find some franchisees, out West most likely. We’re starting to dip our toe in that direction,” he said.

Contact Bret Thorn at 

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