It may come as a surprise to some, but not even pizza is pandemic proof. Since COVID-19 took hold in mid-March, nationwide visits to some of our favorite pizza chains are down 20%.

That twenty percent may seem like a lot, but talk with your favorite Rockford area restaurateur and they're likely to give you a figure that's between 40% and 70% in terms of lost business.

The bottom line seems to be that we'll temporarily give up just about any food group, but we're not willing to part ways with pizza. Cut back, yes. Give up, no.

According to a study done by, while all pizza-related businesses have taken a big hit from COVID-19 and the ensuing restrictions, some of these places are doing better than their competitors. Pizza chains haven’t escaped the pandemic, with overall visits down by 20%, but Little Caesars has seen their numbers drop far less than others. They're down only 6 percent.

I don't know exactly what Little Caesars is doing differently than other national pizza chains, but whatever it is seems to be working. Since the spread of COVID began in mid-March, Little Caesars has been the preferred pizza provider for residents in 24 states. No other pizza place comes close, with Papa John’s leading the way in just nine states and Domino’s in seven.

Here are Illinois' favorites, according to

  1. Little Caesars
  2. Domino's
  3. Pizza Hut
  4. Papa John's
  5. Marco's Pizza

I've never had Marco's Pizza before, so I can't comment on it. And, in a quick poll of co-workers, I'm not alone in never having had Marco's. One person here who has been there was stunned to hear it was in Illinois' top 5.

In Wisconsin, their top 5 picks are:

  1. Papa John's
  2. Little Caesars
  3. Papa Murphy's
  4. Domino's
  5. Pizza Hut

The national chains are fine, but I would rather have Woodfire Pizza, Sam's, Capri, Lino's, or Franchesco's any time, any day. I know there are some great Rockford pizza joints that I left out, but I'd rather have them instead of chain pizza, too.


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