Was Pizza Inn First in Cape?

The first pizza I can ever remember eating was from Pizza Inn, at 409 N. Clark St., not far from Central High School.

In those days, pizza was a new enough food that people didn’t know how to eat it. I recall reading a story about how dentists were seeing a flood of injuries caused by people biting into hot pizza cheese and blistering the inside of their mouths.

Where’d the clown go?

There was a March 1, 1969, police report that a 30-inch statue of a clown was stolen off a table in the Pizza Inn. Its value was estimated from $75 to $100.

Pizza Prices in 1974

A huge ad ran February 23, 1974, saying that a second Pizza Inn was going to open in Memphis. Bring in a coupon from this ad and take a buck off any large or giant size pizza. A giant, 16-inch sausage and mushroom pizza cost $4.30. A tossed salad was 65 cents and soft drinks were a quarter. A large order of spaghetti (“our own blend of sauce, spices and tasty spaghetti”) with salad and garlic break would set you back $1.25.

Bandit orders money to go

Dennis Break, Pizza Inn manager, reported that the restaurant was robbed by a man with a gun at 10:45 a.m., April 10, 1974. A man waited until a customer stepped away, then demanded all of the money. He pulled a gun, then said, “I’m not kidding.” He fled with an undetermined amount of cash.

Need workers

A September 17, 1973 want ad said to apply in person to earn up to $50 a week. Need help nights and weekends. Need waiters and waitresses, must be 21 years old. Also need pizza makers and kitchen help.

Pizza Inn becomes Pop’s Pizza

A January 10, 1993, Missourian story said that Doyle and Cara Lee Samples purchased the Pizza Inn, which was built in 1965, and will rename it Pop’s Pizza. The Samples were the fourth owner of the restaurant.

23 Replies to “Was Pizza Inn First in Cape?”

  1. I would Like to thank the Sample Family, And Say they make the Best Dessert Pizza in the area Thank you Pop’s Pizza for Being who you Are . Everyone should go there and Eat!!!

  2. Good pizza at but not the first pizza in Cape…Toni’s Pizza on Broadway the first. I believe. Across the street for the Rialto Theater…Good Chicago style pizza with a good crust and Italian Suasage…mmmm….Check me out on this dudes..
    I you guys remember in the late sixties this buildign was used as “Teentown” for summer and fall session..Mike Smith played there plus Roger Springmieir’s band and Gary Fisher’s too!

    1. I plan to pull something together on Tony’s Pizza Palace some time in the future.

      There was an ad in The Missourian Apr. 26, 1963, saying that Tony’s Pizza Palace is Now Open for Business.

      A 14″ House Special was 3.00. Most single-ingredient large pies were $2. Exotic ones like Shrimp, Mushroom, Tuna Fish, Bacon or Anchovy pizza were $2.25.

  3. Tony Zahrapolous moved his family from Cape to Oxford, Ohio in the late 1960s, after falling in love with the Catholic church when they passed through Oxford on a vacation. He built a new pizza joint there with a huge apartment for his family over the restaurant. Along with his wife and twin daughters, Tony also brought Benny (his pizza maker) from Cape to Oxford. I think his name was Benny Savage. Benny was a cross between Johnny Cash and the Fonz – a classic. Bob Shell and I used to talk drag racing with Benny over a pizza back in Cape. I think they all missed Cape, but Tony had already turned the Grecian Steakhouse over to family from Greece by then. Tony’s was the first place I ever saw a ham and pineapple pizza – and a tuna pizza too. They were nice folks.

  4. after living in st.louis as long as i have..i almost got how great of pizzas you could get in cape. st.louis loves imo’s…and it’s like eating soggy cheese/meat on a cracker..give me a slice of tony’s ,or wahtver it’s calling itself now adays,once that it relocated near hauk field house..and i still have to have pagliai’s when i’m in town

  5. You are talkin’ to the pizza girl! Yeh, Toni’s was first and best! I remember going there with my best friend Nancy. We loved that pizza place! When Pizza Inn opened, we were happy to have another pizza joint, but it was bland comparatively speaking and wasn’t as good as the #1 pizza. YUM! Wish I could have one today!

  6. Before all those actual Pizza Restaurants came to Cape, I remember eating a small (personal size) pizza at Wimpy’s in the late 50’s & early 60’s. That was the first time I had ever eaten pizza. Jack and I or Ann Waller Martin and I would go there for lunch, grab a small pizza and cold milk, then hurry back to Central before the lunch over bell rang! I never really went into a pizza restaurant until we moved back here in 1975 because Jack never liked pizza until he got back from Viet Nam in 1963. I really liked Godfather’s Pizza on William. My cousin, Dick Boswell, owned it at the time. We just live about 3 miles down the road from the Fruitland Pizza Inn that serves the best buffet around.

  7. I remember Pizza King on Broadway at Pacific when we were in Junior High…..I think Toni’s opened later…Both had great pizza….

  8. I think Bunny might be right. I remember when I went to Carbondale how happy I was to find a Pizza King which was my favorite pizza.

  9. I think my very first pizza was had with you, Miss Pam Taveggia. It all felt so damned exotic. Nothing I have e experienced in Italy itself could compare to that evening.

    1. I always thought that Tony’s was the perfect first date place. The food was good, cheap and filling; you didn’t have to worry about which fork to use, and how your date reacted to finger food was a good indication of how good a sport she was.

      I give you credit for sharing a pizza with Miz Pam. She was an “older woman” and I’d have been too intimidated to ask her out.

      Oops. Maybe I shouldn’t have used the words “Miz Pam” and “older woman” in the same sentence. Let’s say “experienced and worldly” so she’ll still speak to me at the reunion.

  10. Sorry, meant to indicate that it was at Tony’s on Broadway back when men were men and Broadway was Broadway.

  11. Ken Steinhoff was asking about the first pizza place in Cape. I am pretty sure it was Tony’s down on Broadway near the Idan Ha hotel. It was owned by an Italian family that came from corbandale Ill. where the family was operating another pizza parlor. That was new foods for this area. There was an article in the Southeast Missourian about how they made their own baby food for their children. It wasn’t uncommon to go there and eat pizza with their kids running around or crying as I believe they lived upstairs above the restaurant. I remember later we wold go to the rar in the basement of the Idan-Ha and order pizza from Tony’s, go get it and eat it there with the beer we were having.
    Also I remember the Pizza Inn on clark. I can’t recall the owner now, but I remeber him telling a story that he had went to Memphis to check on his business down there. He looked out his motel window and someone was breaking into his car. Said he went down, Hit the guy over the head and then called the police.

  12. I thought the first pizza place was the one at Broadway and Pacific, although I did not remember the name. One day as I was walking through Capaha Park on the way home from Central a car full of people who spoke with an accents stopped and asked me if I would get in and show them how to get there. I declined, even though they seemed very nice. It is a pretty scary to think back on it now.

  13. Ken,
    I too remember the Pizza King at Broadway & Pacific, accross form Howards Athletic, previously Howard & Swanns.
    If I remember it had an opening into the Last Chance Bar, owned by George Wuffers, that made it seem even more exciting. Geting to eat pizza in a beer joint.
    I spent many evenings there later while attending SEMO.
    Wednesday nite drafts for .35 cents, pinball for a dime. Boy, 2 bucks went a long way back then. Thanks for all the memories of just how good we had it growing up in Cape.

  14. Tony’s Pizza on Broadway…the first I remembered & a gathering place for teens…my friend Carol introduced me to Shrimp Pizza there ….the very best!!!…I haven’t had a shrimp pizza since those days…although Pop’s Pizza will make any type pizza if you let them know well in advance. Just stopping by the window of Tony’s was a treat to watch the hand thrown crust being tossed & shaped….Tony’s was so authentic …& introduced Cape to Italian Pies! Remember Pizza King…although never went there…but the Last Chance Bar was just inside the city limits when my Mom was child & lived across Broadway about where the Baptist Church was…the owner at that time was an uncle & I know she was related to Wulfers in Cape & Jackson areas …it lasted many many years…& was probably a treasure trove of history when torn down, not so long ago.

  15. I can remember visiting Shakey’s Pizza on Broadway in the mid to late 1970s. For us small-town boys from Chaffee, a birthday party at Shakey’s followed by a movie next door at the Broadway Theater was a big event.

  16. I also remember Shakey’s Pizza on Broadway. I’d go there with Mom and dad and watch the old movioes o nthe screen in back. LOVED that place. Was sad when it burnt down.

    I also really like Pops Pizza.

  17. I remember eating at the pizza place that was across the street from our store, Howards. I thought that was the only pizza place in town.
    Richard Barks was the original owner of Pizza Inn.

  18. I have to vote for Pizza King on Broadway as the first place we ever had pizza in Cape. We used to make it at home with Chef Boy-Ar-Dee pizza kit and the crust always came out soggy but it was SO good! My first taste of pizza was at Biloxi, MS in 1957. My uncle was stationed at Keesler AFB and I spent the summer with them.

  19. I remember when Kenny Dillingham (aka Pickle) worked at Tony’s Pizza on Broadway. I loved watching him send that dough through that machine that rolled it thin, then tossing it in the air & watching it spin back down to the floured counter. Sometimes we watched through the window and sometimes we went inside & talked while he worked. He could make a really fantastic pizza, although I was usually so broke I couldn’t buy one.

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