Taking comments and memories about Dick’s Pizza

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    Dick's 1964

    Last week we posted some history about the old Pizza Joe’s in Barton which sparked a conversation about Dick’s Pizza. I dove into my archives and found a story from Around the Bend about Dick’s Pizza closing – dated July 24, 2008.
    After 50 years as an institution in West Bend’s independent-restaurant community Dick’s Pizza has closed. Employees were told early Thursday (July 24) that this would be their last night.

    “It’s just gotten to the point where it’s not worth it,” said owner Earl Richter who puts in 80 hours of work a week. “I’m ready to get out.”

    Richter has owned the Italian restaurant at the corner of 18th Avenue and Highway 33 the last five years although Dick’s Pizza has a long history in the community.

    “When I was little we used to go there very late and I would always order the spaghetti and fall asleep and I told my parents it was the spaghetti that would make me fall asleep,” said Jodi Janisse who also remembered the 25-cent sundaes.

    “That was our promotion for our 25th anniversary,” said former owner Dave Wolf who remembered they had a very family-oriented business. “We supported a lot of teams like the water ski team and a lot of little league teams,” said Wolf who ran the restaurant for 20 years.

    Dick's 1962

    Bill Laufer grew up on Seventh Avenue and said it was always a big treat Sunday nights to go down to Dick’s and get a pizza. “They were originally located downtown and then they moved to the far side of town,” he said laughing. “Back in the day people were like, why are they moving way out there.”

    The original Dick’s Pizza dates to the 1950s when Dick Turnquist opened on north Main Street near where Tastings Food & Spirit’s is located. “In 1977 Turnquist started building the new restaurant on 18th Avenue but he was killed in a car crash three weeks before even opening,” said Richter about the crash on Paradise Drive when Turnquist swerved to avoid hitting a dog.

    An employee at the restaurant, Paul Schloemer became the new owner and ran the business for three years before Dave Wolf bought the pizza place in March 1980. Twenty-one years later in December 2001 Richter bought the business.

    “We really grew the sales within the first three or four years,” said Richter. “My sales were probably fifty percent higher than anything they’d ever done but all of a sudden one restaurant after another started opening in this town,” he said claiming there are just too many eating places for West Bend to support.

    Dick's 1965

    Richter rattled off a list of local restaurants that have recently met their demise including Ponderosa, Charcoal Grill, 50 States, Schultz’s Whitetail Inn, Lisa’s Café, Linden Inn, and there have been places bought and sold including the Mousetrap, formerly Blue Herron on the east end of Highway 33, Bagg End changed hands as did Long Branch Saloon and downtown The Grille closed where Café Soeurette opened. “West Bend has way too many restaurants,” said Richter who qualified the transition period as abnormal. “I’ve never seen a town with this many restaurants versus the population.”

    SEVERAL FACTORS HURT BUSINESS…

    Several factors led to Richter’s decision to close including gas prices, the economy, and additional competition. “It kicked you a little bit but it wasn’t anything you couldn’t survive, we just weren’t as profitable,” said Richter noting there have been 24 new restaurants opened in West Bend the last few years.

    Aside from more choices for the community, Richter said the increase in the price of gas hurt him. “We were flat with profits last year, but when gas hit $4 a gallon our business dropped 20% just like that,” he said also blaming the rumor about a Walgreen buying up his corner at 18th Avenue.

    “That hurt me with all the talk and all the rumors and it destroyed my gift certificate sales last year especially during Christmas.” Richter confirmed the national drug store chain was looking at buying and building on the northeast corner however he claimed there was never an offer on the table.

    In January however, First Weber Real Estate agent Bink Steinbach said a Chicago developer actually pulled their offer claiming the redevelopment of the site “was getting too expensive.” Steinbach, the former owner of the Binkery was one of three properties along with Dick’s Pizza that would have been sold for the development.

    Richter made it clear, he was simply closing the restaurant. “I’m not going bankrupt or anything. I thought about selling but there’s not a lot of interest right now.” Richter and a partner own the building which will be for sale shortly. An auction is set for early August.

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    As we look for memories for Dick’s Pizza we’ll kick start the process by sharing some past posts from You Know You Are From West Bend  – a page run by administrator Terry Becker on Facebook.

    Steve Schommer Dicks pizza, best broasted chicken in the damn world!

     Don’t think we ever had pizza there in all the years it was opened! Loved their ice cream scoop of butter, small loaves of bread and the 3 choices of dressing.

     

    Robyn Homuth Hutchins

    Robyn Homuth Hutchins I worked at the “new” Dick’s on 33 & 18th….a Walgreens now….We served those little loaves of bread & the scoop of butter with every meal….Good Eating !!

    Michele Rice loved the lasagna at dicks

    Steve Schommer The fries with the chicken were good too! Chicken, foil, fries! Heaven!

    Laurie KraemerMy mom like to order the pizza AND the chicken and fries when family or friends were over on a Saturday night.
    Advertisement pictures courtesy Steve Kissinger

    24 COMMENTS

    1. Friggin’ loved that place. Fond memories of when Dave and Mary owned it. Dick’s Pizza was part of the fabric of West Bend at that time, and they were the epitomy of the entrepreneurial spirit that gives
      small businesses character , charm, and a place in our minds and hearts.

      Those of us that remember it, miss it. (And places like it that all too sadly have been leveled so sweet, homey places like Walgreens can move in. Sorry…that was a from the cuff commentary.)

      Dang now I’m hungry for those ribs!

    2. Dave Wolf was the best, man! I remember he had a Lincoln (along with a few other cars) and he let me borrow it for Homecoming one year. He used to take us (staff) out on the lake and we’d go out on the boat tubing. I loved working there!

    3. We would go for the great pizza, but as kids the best part was the ice cream sundae bar.
      I remember it being such a treat.

    4. We have a lot of memories of Dick’s pizza! We held our wedding rehearsal dinner there and celebrated many other family events with pizza and $.25 sundaes…good times.

    5. Dicks was my absolute favorite when I was little, I absolutely loved their garlic bread.! Any special get-togethers or birthdays I would always request to eat there. I have many many happy memories there. It was so sad to see it go and I do really miss it.!

    6. My wife and I dated in high school and we went there every Saturday night and ordered the same thing… she always ordered the lasagna and I always had the filet….and nobody to this day could even come close to their pizza! We took our kids there all the time and when they closed they were heart broken! They kept asking “when is Dick’s coming back”
      Now that their older we still talk about how much we miss their pizza!

    7. I worked at Dicks for 13 years it was the BEST place ever ! At both places we gave a lot of kids there first jobs. To this day I have some that I worked with come up and ask me if I remember them from Dicks and then we start talking about the GOOD old days ,GREAT memories .The BEST part of Dicks on 33 is when we got to help get the Christmas parade going again to see all the smiles of the kids along the rout was OUTSTANDING THANKS DAVE! RIP Victor P.Fronek

    8. I spent a few years on “odd jobs” prepping food. In theory, if one were to reopen a dicks pizza, I could probably draw upon the memory banks to recreate that menu. Just sayin.. ?

    9. Dick’s was the best place ever to be at! It didn’t matter if you were going with family or a group of teenagers going in for a pizza! As a girl growing up in West Bend we were well taken care of by the Turnquist family! Dick used to let us go with his daughter Kelly to set up the tables on Saturday mornings when we were kids! When we got done he would give us a dollar coin and let us go down to the Candyman and get candy boy that was one really big deal to me! As I grew up his daughters and everyone that worked at Dicks have touched my life so many times that I could tell stories for hours! I crave his lasagna so bad sometimes it makes my mouth water! Thank you to Dick and to Dave Wolf and all the people that watched out for us when we were kids and still to this day as grown adults! Oh how I wish I could eat some lasagna again! Rest in peace always Dick and Dave you gave us all better lives in all that you did for us and our Comunity!

    10. I remember after basketball and volleyball games we would go celebrate at Rock’s.Also Art Lobotzke took all of parade clowns there after parades,so many fun memories of West Bend.

    11. I loved Dick’s Pizzaria! When i was a kid once got my head stuck between the wrought iron railings…waitresses rescued me. But for years, the spaghetti andmeat balls, salad with that deep red french dressing, and cheese curds. Top it off with a .25 c sundae and a couple games od pac-man or galaga, and its a memory. Oh hey, does anyone remember the great wall of kids placemat colorings? And the penny wishing well at the entrance. Ill never forget this place for the rest of my life, and I don’t think I even ever had the pizza!

    12. I remember the unique metal spinning 4 flavor salad dressing stand they’d set at your table. With an excellent ranch dressing.

      Also the dark green Creme de Menthe to make your sundae mint flavored, with Maraschino cherries on top!

    13. Fond memories of Dick’s . . . from the number tree on the wall that told their wait staff that food was ready, and of course the sundaes — but most of all I loved their pizza. Any chance the recipe is for sale? I’d love to figure out how to adjust it for Colorado altitude and make that pizza for my family!

    14. Remember racing from Steve & Mary’s to Dick’s on Main to sober up on coffee & pizza. This was so I could drive home to Jackson with windows open & radio blasting to stay awake. Also, remember Eddie Plasik going from table to table sharing a joke for a free slice of pizza. Burned my tongue & roof of mouth on hot coffee & pizza one night. It sure made for a long hot summer day making fence the next day!!!

    15. I was about 7 or 8 years old when Dick’s opened on Main street in the fifties. I had my first taste of pizza in Milwaukee a year or so before at Mama Mia’s and I disliked it. I was down on all vegetables in my youth. I loved Dick’s pizza from the start. Sausage, mushrooms and onions was the staple. In high school during the early 60’s standard Saturday night involved taking my girl friend to a movie downtown followed by pizza at Dick’s and then cruising Main Street until my girl’s 11 PM curfew……I cost something south of $4….. $2 for the pizza, $0.50 for two movie tickets, about a $1 for several Cokes, and $1 for 5 gallons of gas. In college years (late 60’s), after closing Steve and Mary’s in Kewaskum, we would always have a late night pizza at Dick’s. After getting married and having two kids, we lived north of Regner on Mckinley St. Dick’s moved to 18th and Main. We all loved the pizza. We left town in 1979 as went to grad school at USC in Los Angeles. We were sorely disappointed to find Dick’s replaced by a Walgreens when we returned to visit my dad. Great Great pizza and the memories are even better!

    16. My wife and I went there a lot . The West Bend Company closed also .To many places closed, or work places . It is too bad for West Bend ,Wi. The young people now have to travel to make a living in other cities . Dicks was the beginning .

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