(Seriously, though, go listen to that music sample. It's crashing along in the background as I type and is the sound of every birthday party I ever attended. It's making me a little verklempt.)
Anyway. The Seattle-based Pizza Haven chain buckled under severe pressure from the national pizza purveyors eventually; there seems to be one remaining location at Seattle Center, which is still pulling down excoriating reviews on yelp.com, sadly. Sounds more like hell. But I've been sidetracked by this article about the founder, Ron Bean, from the Puget Sound Business Journal nearly seven years ago.
Back when Bean opened the first Pizza Haven in the U District in 1958, pizza was exotic, a suspect foreign dish few Americans had ever heard of, let alone tasted.
At the time, the only other pizza joints in the Puget Sound area were Shakey's Pizza and Pizza Pete. Pizza Haven was just open from 4 p.m. to midnight because Bean didn't think people would eat pizza for lunch.
But Bean, who started the restaurant to help pay his law school tuition, had faith its popularity would grow. Pizza was a favorite among his football buddies who grew up on it back home in Chicago.
Back then Pizza Haven charged $3 for a 16-inch pie with five toppings and Cokes were a dime. The chain offered a dozen kinds of pizza with a few creations - notably canned tuna and green olive - that were quietly scrapped.
Pizza Haven was among the first to make deliveries, Bean said. Restaurant employees used radio phones to relay orders to roving drivers who carried stacks of pizzas in warming ovens in the back of their jeeps and pickup trucks
Dude! I remember those trucks, the tall ovens with the pizzas slipped in there in racks. Picture it, these guys just driving around with ready-made pizzas in the truck bed, in case of a sudden pizza emergency. Like pizza ambulances. It's a far cry from some kid from Dominos with a vinyl pizza sleeve and a speeding ticket, no? Meanwhile--canned tuna and green olive? Yes, how did this exotic foodstuff ever catch on?
Anyway. The point of this whole entry is that, after a trip to the zoo this morning, my cousin and her family met me, Mom, and Sis at the Phinney Ridge Zeeks Pizza. Cuz has three kids, 8, 5, and 3; I'd suggested Zeeks because it's famously kid-friendly, but even I didn't anticipate how cheerfully welcoming they'd be to the younger set. While we waited for our meal, the waitress brought each kid a goodie bag--crayons, a picture to color, a Zeeks temporary tattoo--and a little ball of raw pizza dough to mash around on the table. When the pitcher of root beer arrived, she likewise handed out three plastic cups with lids, unprompted. I don't have kids of my own yet, but honestly I kind of felt like one again, there at the table with the whole fam-damily, sculpting slightly begrimed figures out of dough and sneezing from the hot peppers. Remember this, I told myself afterwards, remember what this is like. It had been too long.