The pipe organ pizzeria was one of America’s strangest restaurant fads.
It all started in the early 1960s, when a California restauranteur bought a big old Mighty Wurlitzer pipe organ from a closed silent movie theater, installed it in a strip mall restaurant, and named it Ye Olde Pizza Joynt. The instrument was huge. It was crazy looking. It played music that was the perfect accompaniment to kind-of-terrible pizza. And the idea caught on.
Imitators sprang up across the country from Arizona to Michigan, places where families could dine to the sounds of the Stars and Stripes Forever and Take Me Out to the Ball Game. At Uncle Milt’s Pizza in Vancouver, Washington, the house organist regularly performed in a full-body Pink Panther costume.
At the height of this craze in the 1970s, there were fourteen pipe organ pizza parlors in California alone. But over the years, these combination businesses closed or burned down one by one. There are maybe five left in the country.
Image Source: Puget Sound Theater Organ Society