Former Chicago Bears head coach Mike Ditka was named the spokesman for two of the city's renowned food chains -- Al's Beef and Nancy's Pizza -- on May 14.
According to Chicago Franchise Systems (via Yahoo! Finance), Ditka is the first official spokesperson for the two companies:
"Three Chicago legends unite as Al's Beef and Nancy's Pizza announced today that they recruited and signed Chicago sports legend, Mike Ditka, famed coach football player and television commentator, to join the companies' team.
"Ditka is the first official spokesperson for the two iconic restaurant brands, as they ramp up for franchise expansion into new markets and launch fresh new store designs across the country.
"'Al's Beef and Nancy's Pizza are Chicago legends in a city so close to my heart after being here for many years, and I couldn't be more excited to support their growth and expansion,' said Mike Ditka.
"'There is nothing quite like Al's original authentic dipped Italian beef sandwich or the original stuffed pizza filled with cheese and every topping imaginable from Nancy's. Are you hungry yet?'
"Mike Ditka will be involved as a spokesperson for Chicago Franchise Systems, Inc., the parent company of Al's Beef and Nancy's Pizza. The coach will be incorporated into many efforts for both brands, including new branding at the store level, advertising, public relations and marketing efforts.
"Chicago Franchise Systems is scouting future locations across the country to open Al's Beef and Nancy's Pizza Restaurants with the coach and his team.
"'We are thrilled to bring Mike Ditka into the Al's Beef and Nancy's Pizza family as he truly embodies Chicago where our brands were born,' said Dave Howey, president of Chicago Franchise Systems, Inc.
"'This partnership marks the beginning of some very exciting changes and initiatives that we'll be rolling out over the coming months to support the continued growth of Al's Beef and Nancy's Pizza.'"
Howey also told Robert Channick of The Chicago Tribune that Ditka is the perfect endorser for their brand. Howey is also unfazed by the fact Ditka is an endorser of several other products, ranging from jewelry stores to impotence drugs.
"He's a big fan of ours -- he loves our food. He's a good face to put on our brand, especially as we move outside of Chicago. It kind of gives it an endorsement that says this is something to try.
"I'm happily surprised that he has enough confidence in us, and willingness to help us expand, because he is a believer in our product. When a guy like Mike says he likes something...he knows food and I'm really proud of it. I think it's great."
The announcement was made at Al's Beef's new branch at 234 S. Wabash Avenue per NBC Chicago's Alexandria Fisher.
Fisher also adds Ditka is also known for Ditka Sausages which are served at his restaurants and Gold Coast Dogs, America's Dogs, Mickey's Hot Dogs, Arlington Racecourse, Vienna Beef's Factory Store and Soldier Field.
Al's Beef first opened in 1938 and was purchased by Chicago Franchise Systems 15 years ago, notes The Chicago Tribune report. Since then, it has branched out and expanded to 18 locations in Illinois, California and Nevada.
On the other hand, Nancy's Pizza started out in 1971 and was purchased by Chicago Franchise Systems in 1990. It has since expanded to Atlanta and will open up several more branches in California, per Channick.