Tom’s Pizza, Not Tony’s

I was all excited when I found these negatives of what I thought was Tony’s Pizza Palace across from the Rialto. That was the place that defined pizza for me. I sat in there many a night wolfing down pizza that cost, maybe, three bucks, and pumping quarters into the jukebox. Tony cut his pies into square slices, too, something I haven’t encountered anywhere else. We had a long discussion about pizza places in Cape in a May 2010 post. (Click on any photo to make it larger.)

Joint in Columbia looked like Tony’s

In the summer of 1964, Nancy Jenkins and I went to a summer workshop for yearbook staffers at Missouri University in Columbia. While we were there, we walked into a pizza joint that had the same look and feel as Tony’s: same ovens, same square pieces, same layout. It was uncanny.

Deju vu all over again

Shortly after I transferred to Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, I walked into a pizza place about four blocks down Court Street from the student newspaper office and this crazy feeling of deja vu: the place was laid out like Tony’s, had the same menu, same square slices. The only difference was that it was called Tom’s Pizza Palace. I was blown away.

Watching it being made

After I became a regular, I told Tom about the crazy coincidence of three pizza parlors in three different towns in two states that were carbon copies of each other. He laughed and said that they were all relatives of Tony’s. He found the formula of small college towns and good quality for a reasonable price to be a hit with college students and locals alike. Every so often, Tony would go back home to Greece and recruit a new relative to open up a pizza parlor.

I don’t know if the story was true, but it had the right ring to it.

Where’s the Jukebox?

When I started looking closely at the pictures, something didn’t feel right about it being Tony’s. I remembered the jukebox being in the back of the room, not the side of the room.

That’s not Broadway

The view out the front window should have been the parking lot between the Rialto and the H&H Building on Broadway, not a storefront.

Pizza box is the giveaway

The giveaway was when I looked closely at the top of the pizza box: Tom’s Pizza Palace.

So, if you were in Athens during the late 60s, this will make you feel right at home. If you were in Cape and loved Tony’s square slices, this is as close as I can get you until I find some new negatives.

Tony’s is a tattoo parlor

When I took this photo October 24, 2009, a tattoo parlor had moved into Tony’s old place. The sign fixture looks like the one I remember from Back When.

(You know, I may be wrong about the sign. I looked in the background of some photos of the 1964 Homecoming Parade and noticed the sign was square, not rectangular. Maybe the new business used the same mount, but changed the sign.)



19 Replies to “Tom’s Pizza, Not Tony’s”

  1. I worked at Tony’s for three years, while in high school. I’ve made more pizzas than I can imagine. Best pizza ever.

  2. I lifted weights with NIck Nocopoplis (SP) in college and he was the guys who threw the dough at Tony’s…I loved Tony’s pizza it was the best…and still the standard I use for pizza even today!
    I think it was $2.25 for a large sauage and cheese Pizza…MMMMM….

  3. The genius behind Tony’s pizza was Nick Dinopolus who later opened Dino’s by Houck Stadium. When he divorced his wife, she kept Dino’s and Nick opened Dino’s Too in Anna/Jonesboro, IL. Nick sold Dino’s Too and returned to Greece but his son Gus reopend Dino’s Too and still has the great Greek style pizza cut in squares. Say hi to your brother Mark for me, I was in his class.

  4. Ken,
    If it’s square pieces you seek, St. Louis’ Imo’s chain, whose obsessive popularity confounds all out-of-towners, sports the slogan: “The Square Beyond Compare.” I’m sure Mark can hook you up.

  5. Ken, I have to agree with you on Imo’s pizza. It would be easier to just eat the box and the taste would be the same. But, I sure would like a Tony’s pizza about now!

  6. I worked at the dorm desk at MU (Columbia) in the mid 60’s. The cafeterias were closed on Sunday night and Tony’s was the only place that delivered. The driver would come in to the dorm with a stack of pizza boxes 2 feet high.

  7. That was a fun summer at the workshop in Columbia and I do remember the good pizza. Wish I had a piece of it right now!

  8. So glad to see where someone else doesn’t like Imos! I have always said it tasted like tomato soup on a cracker with a bit of cheese on top! I remember Tony’s Pizza but I guess I don’t remember where it was…

  9. Tony’s hand tossed pizza with shrimp was my favorite of all time. Haven’t found any Pizzeria with Shrimp Pizza on the menu since!

      1. Ken, . I came across this post while was randomly searching the web for information about a dear friend Tomes Karhalios who had recently passed. I have also sent you a PM via face book. Please contact me privately, I have questions. Thanks

          1. I delivered pizzas for Toms pizza in Athens Ohio spring and summer 1969. It sat right next to Berry hall which was the old Berry Hotel. I lived there for a year from 65-66 while an undergrad. I was a grad student in art while working at Toms. Tom,his brother in law, wives children and grandparents all lived upstairs. Tom was a good guy. Taught me snippets of Greek and Greek history while I waited for deliveries. Toms brother in law made the pizzas tossing the flattened dough in the air. If they were busy Tom also made pizzas. This was 50 years ago. My future wife would walk by Toms in the evening to say hello. We’ve lived together for 50 years starting that summer. This memory makes the veils of years separate. The inside of my Volkswagen bug (my delivery vehicle) always smelled like Toms square cut pizza. Oh time.

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