Friday, August 18, 2023

Let's talk a bit about Pizza (part 1)

 When I was young, pizza was something special.  We didn't eat out very often and when we did it was usually for holidays, birthdays, or something special.  And once my parents bought the store (which was closed on Mondays) we ate out even less.  But we still celebrated birthdays by letting the birthday person pick a restaurant to go out to.  I chose Shakeys Pizza Parlor quite a few times.  I always ordered sausage and black olives. This started my interest in and taste for pizza. 

In my early teens Imo's Pizza opened a store near where I lived.  It was managed by a woman named Karen.  Once I tried their pizza I was hooked.  I ordered pizzas from them at least twice a week.  Imo's was the original St. Louis style pizza - thin crust, with provel cheese, and cut into squares.

When I was 17 I started working there a couple days a week making the dough. It was my first job outside of my parents store.  In 1974 I ordered and purchased my very first new car.  A 1974 Ford Gran Torino, 4 door, white vinyl over red with a black interior.  Shortly after I got this car I started delivering for Imo's on weekend evenings.  At that time Imo's was the only pizza company that delivered in our area so deliveries were quite busy (and LOTS of tips). I remember averaging over $250 a night in tips alone  (in 1974 $$).  I worked with Imo's for about a year or so before moving on, but while I worked there I tried a lot of different pizza combinations.  My favorite was sausage, black olive, shrimp and onion.  After they stopped carrying shrimp I have stuck with sausage, black olives and onion as my pizza choice through today.

There was also another local pizza place, Fortell's, that had a really good pizza.  At one point they were rated as one of the best pizzas in the US.  Also, as they were closer to the firehouse I would get pizzas from them when I was on duty.

Imo's, Fortell's and Cecil Whitaker's were the 3 main pizzas that I would order out from up through my early 30's.

As other chains started to grow and move into the area I would try them also.  Pizza Inn, Pizza Hut, Romano's, etc.  We ate at Pizza Hut for lunch quite often while they were doing the lunch pizza, pasta, salad bar buffet but once that ended I went went back to my main three.

Today I prefer to buy from local shops.  Not just for pizza or food but for anything I buy.  I believe in shopping local whenever possible. And since I am no longer in the St. Louis area and don't have access to Imo's or Fortell's I get pizzas from a wide variety of businesses now.

That's it for this first post.  Watch for Part 2 coming soon.

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