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Award-winning owner of Detroit Style Pizza Co. dies of brain cancer

Melody Baetens
The Detroit News

Award-winning Detroit-style pizza maker Shawn Randazzo died Saturday from brain cancer. He was 44.

Randazzo, who had 25 years in the pizza business, founded the Detroit Style Pizza Co. in St. Clair Shores in 2012, the same year he was named World Champion Pizza Maker of the Year at the International Pizza Expo in Las Vegas.

Shawn Randazzo, left, and co-owner and chef Joe Maino

His location was previously under the Cloverleaf Pizza brand — he started there as a delivery driver in 1995 and eventually purchased the business — but he told The Detroit News that he wanted to branch out under a new name when he won the world championship with his own recipe. 

At the beginning of 2020, Randazzo started treatment for stage four glioblastoma, an aggressive brain cancer. Then the pandemic hit, causing the mostly-carryout pizza business to cut staff and hours as the country waited to see what effect the novel coronavirus would have on the nation and the world. 

Because Detroit Style Pizza Co. also has a frozen pizza distribution business and sold its thick, square pies through Goldbelly.com, Dave Portnoy, a New York-based internet celebrity known for his one-bite pizza reviews was able to get his hands on one of Randazzo's creations in April. 

Founder of the website Barstool Sports, Portnoy's 8.5 out of 10 review of Detroit Style Pizza Co.'s frozen product was a boon to both the St. Clair Shores pizza shop and the Roseville-based mail order business. Sales tripled overnight, and the frozen product in stock at Goldbelly sold out in 30 minutes, Randazzo told The Detroit News in May.  

More:Internet celebrity's bite changes things for Detroit Style Pizza Co.

Randazzo is survived by his wife, Keri Randazzo, and their four children. 

His business partner at Detroit Style Pizza Co., Joe Maino confirmed to The Detroit News that the pizzeria will continue regular operation starting Tuesday. Randazzo ran the distribution side of the business with his mother, Linda Michaels. Maino said that side of operations may see some delays. 

Detroit Style Pizza Co. co-owners Shawn Randazzo, left, and Joe Maino pose with the Margherita In The D Pizza and the Harper Hornet pizza

"This is literally a small family business. ... It's run by just a handful of people so some things may be interrupted unexpectedly," said Maino. "But we'll all be doing our best." 

Keri Randazzo told The Detroit News in May that Shawn was trying to keep moving and be an inspiration to others as he fought cancer while also being excited for his business' success. 

A GoFundMe set up to help the Randazzo family with medical expenses has reached $25,000 and is still accepting donations at fr.gofundme.com/f/shawn-randazzo

mbaetens@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @melodybaetens