Ike Sewell's restaurant career began at the bar. He worked for a distillery when he met his business partner and they decided to open a restaurant. When Ric Riccardo, the owner of Riccardo's on Rush, suggested their new restaurant serve pizza, Ike insisted that the pizza should be a meal itself, not just an appetizer. He also wanted something different from what he could find in Chicago's Little Italy. Ike was from Texas, so he liked big, and his pizza had so much more of everything it needed its own pan. And so, Chicago Deep Dish Pizza was born. Pizzeria Uno also spawned the Italian-style American classics: chicken vesuvio and italian beef sandwiches. Ike was also fond of Mexican food so he established the nearby Su Casa restaurant.
Pizzeria Uno inspired other pizza restaurants around the country and in Chicago. The father and son team, Rudy and Lou Malnati, were managers during the early years of Pizzeria Uno and Due. In 1971 Lou Malnati opened his own eponymous pizza place. Several former Uno's employees started their own restaurants in Chicago including: Gino's East, Delisi's Pizza, Louisa's Pizza, and Pizano's Pizza and Pasta. Uno's became famous outside Chicago when it licensed "Original Chicago Pizzeria Uno" restaurants which opened many locations across the country.
Ike kept his day job for the first 22 years of Pizzeria Uno; he retired as a vice president of a liquor company in 1965. Ike started even further from both Chicago and the restaurant business. He was born in Texas and played college football at the University of Texas, Austin, where he was an All-American in 1924. Ike received the National Football Foundation Distinguished American Award in 1987.