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A Fond Tribute to a Long Gone Missoula Pizza Joint

It’s National Pizza Party Day, an event observed on the third Friday in May.

As if we really have to have an excuse to pizza-party on Friday nights, but just in case you needed a little extra motivation, there you go. I suppose I should celebrate, though, just to recognize my college “scholarship” back in the day.

You long-time Missoula residents will probably remember Shakey’s Pizza Parlor. Shakey’s was located on Benton Avenue behind what is now the Montana Club. The building still stands and these days is the Treasure Chest hobby store.

Shakey’s was a franchise that still exists (barely) but it was locally owned by a kind and cantankerous gent named Pete Zuidmeer, with a really gruff exterior and an even bigger heart. What a unique place it was, with long wooden tables and short stools, a big window with a viewing ramp so kids could watch the dough being made in the kitchen, bartenders that weren’t very good at carding even the younger looking customers, a player piano that seldom worked, an “arcade” (well, one Pong game)….

Still to this day, I don’t know that I have ever had better pizza. Or fried chicken and jo-jo potatoes for that matter. That chicken marinated in special spices for a day before we’d dunk it into that deep fat fryer! Health food? Yeah, right! Go home. Back then Missoula was hardly crawling with franchise restaurants, so it had name recognition and used to just kick ass night after night. I’m sure anybody with a Missoula Shakey’s memory is going to message me up after this.

And what makes it so extra special to me? I worked my way through college there, an experience I wouldn’t trade for anything. So on this National Pizza Party Day, a salute to all who have or are currently working in the pizza biz! I’m partying with you in spirit.

DB

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