Author Topic: Garcia's Pizza  (Read 106500 times)

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Offline dgoetz

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Re: Garcia's Pizza
« Reply #50 on: December 08, 2007, 07:34:13 AM »
    I wonder if the Garcia's in Decatur is still owned by the same guy from this site.  He's been pretty quiet if he still owns it.  It's a shame to hear about the service.  The service was fine when we went there, it's the quality that wasn't quite there.  How long has the restaurant been open?  Evidently long enough for the kinks to be worked out?

    Look on the bright side.  If Garcia's doesn't "pan" out, at least there's a La Gondolla down the block.  Their Torpedo is a wonderful addiction.


Offline joesnuffy

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Re: Garcia's Pizza
« Reply #51 on: February 05, 2008, 10:59:31 AM »
Sonick, I feel your pain. Cheese and a coke was my noon fix all four years of high school. If they would have had a LaBamba's in Rantoul in the early '80's I'd be big as a house by now! Unfortunately outside of the chains (Pizza Slut, Domino's,etc. ad nauseum) all there is in Georgia is BBQ. I'd trade every last damn rib in this state for ONE stuffed pepperoni and extra cheese pie.  :P

Offline auribe14

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Re: Garcia's Pizza
« Reply #52 on: February 10, 2008, 07:16:51 PM »
Steve,
Do you know how "new" that website is? I seem to remember seeing it a couple years ago when I was jonesing for a stuffed guttbuster. The copyright notice on the bottom says 2003, and to check back for updates..but nothing seems to be updated.

I ate at Garcia's in Bloomington, IN when my family drove my brother back to IU in '85. I have never found another stuffed pizza anywhere near as good as it was...I would love to see a recipe or be able to buy one.

What was the concensus on the Garcias in Champ/Urb? Is it still there? Is it worth visiting, or is it a faint shadow of its former self?


Funny thing, I saw a handmade sign (due to a construction move) for Flying Tomato in Dayton, Ohio this week and just looked it up hoping to find it was Garcia's. No luck, so I googled "Garcia Brothers Pizza" and after a couple of links landed here. Was reading a post quoting the above post, and started thinking "I arrived at IU in 85..." Lo and behold, that was my brother's post! Small world, this internet thing.
« Last Edit: February 10, 2008, 07:25:37 PM by auribe14 »

Offline GarciasFAN

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Re: Garcia's Pizza
« Reply #53 on: February 17, 2008, 05:43:34 PM »
Hi Everyone!

The internet is so amazing.  I thought I was the only one that dreamed about Garcia's Pizza, and never imagined this forum and the funny similarities between myself and many of the people here!

I now live in So. Cali., but I went to Millikin U. in Decatur in the late 80s early 90s.  Garcia's Pizza was my all-time favorite pizza!  I went there to celebrate after I had my senior show (art).  The one I went to was in the big mall in Decatur.  Does anyone have any photos of that location?  They had a really cool seating area with multi-level platforms and lots of stairs up to these levels. 

But the pizza was soooo good and sweet.  Unfortunately, I haven't even eaten pizza in the last 4-5 years because of stomach problems.  I am working with doctors though to resolve it, and one day I will eat Garcia's Pizza again!  Seriously, I dream about eating Garcia's, and it is a goal to be able to enjoy it again and feel good!  I'm not a cook, but thanks for the recipes contributed.  I plan to hire a cook to make Garcia's style pizza in my home!

One last note.  I grew up in Northern IL.  Another really good pizza, different from Garcia's but probably my #2, is Moore's Pizza in McHenry.  Thanks!


Offline loowaters

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Re: Garcia's Pizza
« Reply #54 on: February 20, 2008, 09:43:59 AM »
Moore's Pizza in McHenry!  HA!  I've forgetten about them.  Not exactly one of those names that comes to mind of the finest of Chicago pizza restaurants but pretty good nevertheless.  I remember getting a large stuffed one time for a group of us and it weighed about eight pounds.  I don't think I'm exaggerating that at all.   :-D  Sorry, I've gone off subject.  Time for a "McHenry Style" thread.

Loo
Using pizza to expand my waistline since 1969!

Offline Mad_Ernie

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Re: Garcia's Pizza
« Reply #55 on: February 20, 2008, 10:24:52 AM »
Check out this recent article about Garcia's.  Looks like they're trying to make a comeback after their Chapter 11 debacle.  :chef: :pizza:

http://www.news-gazette.com/news/local/2008/02/17/ups_and_downs

I think they suffered in Cham/bana in the late '90s because the newer college students weren't as familiar with their legend status, so the company was hurt due to good alumni performance during homecoming games but poor ability to build a new customer base.
Let them eat pizza.

Offline dgoetz

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Re: Garcia's Pizza
« Reply #56 on: February 26, 2008, 07:11:09 AM »
Hi GarciasFan,

    My husband and I used to go to the Garcia's in Decatur nearly every weekend, when it was at the mall.  Sadly, they closed about ten or so years ago.  A new Garcia's opened just this last year.  I believe it's on Water street, a block or so down from LaGondola.  Anyway, I hate to burst your bubble, but I wouldn't recommend eating at Garcia's anymore.  They are nothing like what they used to be.  You're better off making your own.  That's what I do.

Offline kelliagles

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Re: Garcia's Pizza
« Reply #57 on: April 07, 2008, 06:50:13 PM »
My sister went to ISU.  I went to visit her - half to time just to get a slice.  then they put one in NOrthwoods mall, peoria, IL - the original one - was the 2-story wooden framed type store with the "good" recipe pizza slices.  then they moved it to the entrance/ground level larger store - yes started to change but was still good.  miss it amongst other midwest stuff now that i live in fl.  yes, i too alsmo miss the la gondola  torpedoes which is from my home town area of morton, east peoria - ie avanti's is still the best original ital. sandwich bread!  tried to make/copy the bread - to no avail.  keeps me travelin.  at least i can get my fix of imo's in Lake Ozarks/Osage Beach MO!  miss arts tomales, Peoria, IL>

Offline wildwood_players

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Re: Garcia's Pizza
« Reply #58 on: July 03, 2008, 02:42:47 PM »
I had a friend that worked at Garcia's back in 1974.  She lived across the hall from me in the Stoughten-Goodwin apartments in Urbana.  She more or less helped me figure out the recipe.  The important ingredients are un-toasted wheat germ and cinnamon.  I have a recipe at home that I have been using for the past 30 years.  I will try to remember to post it.  It would be fun to hear from that friend.  I won't mention her name but I think she still lives in C/U.  She had a two roomates in the apartment, one's name was Rachel, the other was Karen I as I recall.


Offline rkalmar

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Re: Garcia's Pizza
« Reply #59 on: August 13, 2008, 11:59:59 PM »
Please Please Please post the recipe wildwood_players!  :-)

Offline wildwood_players

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Re: Garcia's Pizza
« Reply #60 on: August 15, 2008, 12:58:05 AM »
OK, here is the recipe that I worked up back in 1975 along with a gal friend that worked at Garcia's.  I always intended to open a pizza place out here in Seattle. I even bought a big gas fired oven.  But that was long ago.

Dough for a 12" pizza:
Combine: 1 Cup warm water, 1 pkg dry yeast, let work.
Add to the above: 2 Tbl sugar, 1 tsp salt, 2 Tbl olive oil.
Add to the above: 1/2 untoasted wheat germ, 1/4 tsp cinnamon, 3 - 4 cups of flour.
The key ingredients are the untoasted wheat germ and cinnamon.  That is the source of the faintly sweet flavor.

Sauce:
1 can Hunt's Stewed Tomatoes
1 small can Hunt's tomato paste
1 Tbl Oregano
3/4 Tbl sweet basil
1/2 tsp garlic salt
shy 1/4 tsp salt
strong 1/4 tsp black pepper
crushed red peppers to taste (a dash)
Combine ingredients and simmer at least 15 minutes
I can't get Hunt's out here and I don't like any of the other stewed tomatoes that I have tried.

Assembly Instructions:

Press the dough into the pan leaving a slight roll around the perimeter.  Line the shell formed with thinly sliced mozzarella over lapping edges to seal off crust.  Cover the cheese with sauce, add toppings then add grated 3 cheese blend.  The cheese should be a mozzarella, provolone, cheddar blend.  60/20/20. Bake at 400-450 until cheese and crust is brown.

I sure hope you like this recipe and find that it brings back memories of Garcia's.  It isn't exactly the same, but it is pretty close.   :chef:

Offline Essen1

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Re: Garcia's Pizza
« Reply #61 on: August 15, 2008, 01:14:02 AM »
Wildwood,

If you have Safeway in your area, you're able to get your hands on Hunt's. Or try an affiliate of Safeway, if you don't have it, such as Randall's or Von's.
Mike

"Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new."  - Albert Einstein

Offline loowaters

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Re: Garcia's Pizza
« Reply #62 on: August 15, 2008, 08:58:27 AM »
How much of that untoasted wheat germ are we to use?  You say it's an important ingredient but it just gives us 1/2. 

And there's got to be better alternatives to Hunts.  I've yet to find a Hunts product I've liked.
Using pizza to expand my waistline since 1969!

Offline wildwood_players

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Re: Garcia's Pizza
« Reply #63 on: August 15, 2008, 11:52:16 AM »
Concerning the Hunt's stewed tomatoes.  I think the reason that I liked the Hunt's was because it didn't come with a bunch of other added flavors.  It was pretty much just canned tomatoes.  Most of the other products that I see have other ingredients like seasoning or other vegetables.  If you have access to fresh stewed tomatoes from your garden, great!  Out where I live, there isn't enough sun or warmth to grow a decent tomato.  It might be what I miss the most about the midwest.

Concerning the availability.  My regular grocery store is Safeway.  They do have Hunts products, just not stewed tomatoes.  I have also shopped QFC, Albertsons, and many of the other Associated Grocers stores in the area.  The product is just hard to find.

Bottom line, start the sauce with an unflavored, or minimally flavored cooked tomato product, with chunks.

Offline sourdough girl

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Re: Garcia's Pizza
« Reply #64 on: August 15, 2008, 03:42:49 PM »
wildwood_players,

I worked for QFC for many years and in my position there, I often special-ordered products for customers.  IF Kroger hasn't completely ruined their customer service (for which we were legendary!)... and, if they still carry Hunt's products, you should ask to speak to the manager in charge.  IF QFC is still the company I remember, your request should not be a problem.  They should order it for you with a smile!

~sd
Never trust a skinny cook!

Offline rkalmar

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Re: Garcia's Pizza
« Reply #65 on: August 31, 2008, 09:31:47 PM »
So...

I made the pizza.  I am not sure if this recipe was for the Gut-Buster type pan pizza or for the Pizza-by-the-slice pizza.  My dough seemed more like the Pizza-by-the-slice type, but since the sauce was the same for both, the dough may have been too (I had friends that worked at the one on The Ohio State University campus, so I know some things about how the made things, just not the real ingredients...  I ate there just about every other day and night).  In any case, I made the Gut-Buster.  It was GREAT!!!  It did not taste JUST like The Flying Tomato, but I found hints of it throughout...

Dough in a 10 inch cake pan up the sides, layer of motz slices, layer of pep, layer of sauce, layer of grated cheese mix to fill it up, layer of sauce (let it cook for longer w/o burning the cheese), bake at 450 until the sauce starts to look very, very dry...  YUM !

The sauce I made was a little spicier than I remember; either too much pepper or crushed red pepper...  more likely the crushed red pepper.  Other than that, the 2 unflavored Hunts ingredients worked out well.

The dough I made was very bread-like.  It was soft and maybe a little sweeter than what I remember.  It was, however, really tasty :-)

The Gut-Buster I remember had some sort of "buttery-garlic tang" in the cheese mix maybe.  I am not sure.  I really did enjoy making it and it was very good.  I will make this again for certain and I will adjust the things I named above.  I may lower the amount of wheat-germ (used 1/2 cup toasted, could not find raw/untoasted), sugar, or cinnamon a little to lower the sweetness of the dough, then again, it was so good I may not :-)

Thanks again for posting the recipe!

Offline wildwood_players

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Re: Garcia's Pizza
« Reply #66 on: September 19, 2008, 05:59:24 PM »
Sorry, in my recipe I stated 1/2 untoasted Wheat Germ
That should read 1/2 Cup untoasted Wheat Germ



Offline Engineered Ceramics

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Re: Garcia's Pizza
« Reply #67 on: September 21, 2008, 04:06:08 PM »
I found Bob's Red Mill makes a Natural Raw Wheat Germ.


http://www.bobsredmill.com/product.php?productid=3522&cat=0&page=1

I'm gonna have to try making the gutbuster.

Offline IEatPizzaByThePie

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Re: Garcia's Pizza
« Reply #68 on: September 22, 2008, 03:17:55 AM »
Did the dough go into a proofer after this? How exactly was the rise done?



OK, here is the recipe that I worked up back in 1975 along with a gal friend that worked at Garcia's.  I always intended to open a pizza place out here in Seattle. I even bought a big gas fired oven.  But that was long ago.

Dough for a 12" pizza:
Combine: 1 Cup warm water, 1 pkg dry yeast, let work.
Add to the above: 2 Tbl sugar, 1 tsp salt, 2 Tbl olive oil.
Add to the above: 1/2 untoasted wheat germ, 1/4 tsp cinnamon, 3 - 4 cups of flour.
The key ingredients are the untoasted wheat germ and cinnamon.  That is the source of the faintly sweet flavor.

Sauce:
1 can Hunt's Stewed Tomatoes
1 small can Hunt's tomato paste
1 Tbl Oregano
3/4 Tbl sweet basil
1/2 tsp garlic salt
shy 1/4 tsp salt
strong 1/4 tsp black pepper
crushed red peppers to taste (a dash)
Combine ingredients and simmer at least 15 minutes
I can't get Hunt's out here and I don't like any of the other stewed tomatoes that I have tried.

Assembly Instructions:

Press the dough into the pan leaving a slight roll around the perimeter.  Line the shell formed with thinly sliced mozzarella over lapping edges to seal off crust.  Cover the cheese with sauce, add toppings then add grated 3 cheese blend.  The cheese should be a mozzarella, provolone, cheddar blend.  60/20/20. Bake at 400-450 until cheese and crust is brown.

I sure hope you like this recipe and find that it brings back memories of Garcia's.  It isn't exactly the same, but it is pretty close.   :chef:
"I looked at the serving size: two slices. Who the hell eats two slices? I eat pizza by the pie! Two pies is a serving size!!"

Offline MWTC

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Re: Garcia's Pizza
« Reply #69 on: September 22, 2008, 12:10:31 PM »

Sauce:
1 can Hunt's Stewed Tomatoes
1 small can Hunt's tomato paste
1 Tbl Oregano
3/4 Tbl sweet basil
1/2 tsp garlic salt
shy 1/4 tsp salt
strong 1/4 tsp black pepper
crushed red peppers to taste (a dash)
Combine ingredients and simmer at least 15 minutes
I can't get Hunt's out here and I don't like any of the other stewed tomatoes that I have tried.


What size are you talking about?

"1 can Hunt's Stewed Tomatoes"

MWTC  :chef:

Offline rkalmar

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Re: Garcia's Pizza
« Reply #70 on: September 24, 2008, 05:51:34 PM »
FWIW, I used the 6oz can of paste, and the 14.5oz of tomatoes (stewed, diced, and steam pealed or something like that)...

This allowed me to make one 9inch GutBuster with sauce in the middle and on top, and a second with it only in the middle.  I can't remember if the GutBuster had sauce in the middle, but I remember it on top, but I did not realize that until I ran out of sauce for the top of the second one.

I will try again this weekend...

Also, make sure you get good cheese.  No part skim, low moisture, etc...  That stuff does not melt in the middle.  Also, if you don't use sauce in the middle, I guess I think there must be some seasoning in the cheese, but not sure what, exactly...

Anyway... that leaves more questions for all, but, this recipe is an excellent start !

Offline Engineered Ceramics

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Re: Garcia's Pizza
« Reply #71 on: September 24, 2008, 10:03:17 PM »
I think I found a photo of Garcia's from 2007.

Apparently they have a store open in Champaign, IL.

Offline Rich

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Re: Garcia's Pizza
« Reply #72 on: October 19, 2008, 01:09:18 PM »
Hi guys, I lived in Champaign for a year in 1990-91 and I loved the pizzas down there.  Monicals was good, Garcia's was great (I usually don't care for that kind of dough, but it was addiciting) and my favorite (and still in my top 3 ever) Timpone's in Urbana on Goodwin (East side of the Quad).  I grew up in Skokie and Highland Park, IL (Chicago suburbs) and am into pizza big time. 

I came back to this site today because I'm heading to Normal, IL later today and I wanted to have some Garcia's which I probably haven't had in 10 years.  It's sad to read about the demise of this chain.  It sounds like their not in Normal at all anymore. 

But I might be even luckier in the long run if the place I found pans out (pun intended).  Cheese To Please Pizza in Willmette, IL might be the closest thing to Garcia's original recipe and if it is, it's only 15 minutes from my house! 

From their webiste:

 Today, Cheese To Please is Wilmette's oldest pizza restaurant. Here is how it all began.....

   
    What started as a part time college job at the University of Illinois in 1973 at Garcia's pizza has turned into a 20 year love affair for me to keep the wonderful people of the North Shore fed with great pizza.

     It started when I was eating pizza, literally, every night in college. I decided that I might as well work at my favorite pizza place so that I could get a discount on the pizza. After a semester of delivering pizzas, I became an assistant manager of the restaurant. Ralph and Joe (The Flying Tomato Brothers) were great mentors and not only did I learn the ins and outs of producing a great pizza, but also a great deal about the value of marketing and the importance of dealing fairly with fellow employees and clients.

      After Garcia's Pizza, I moved back to the Chicago area and took a job as a structural engineer in a firm that designed power plants. For the next six years I would have parties for friends and co-workers and always served homemade pizza, made in the tradition of Garcia's. One day a friend called me up and told me about a pizza oven that was not being used by a local pizza place. After renting a trailer and picking up the oven, I began to look for a small storefront to rent in Wilmette, and began my journey. I was fortunate to find a store on Old Glenview Road and Skokie Blvd. and we opened on March 6, 1981, just six months after my daughter Bridget was born. About 4 years later, I gave up the job as an engineer and have been 'doing' pizzas ever since.

      While always maintaining a store in Wilmette, we have had stores selling Cheese To Please Pizza in Wheeling, Chicago, Woodstock and Buffalo Grove. Additionally, we have been asked to consider opening stores in Arizona, Boston, Las Vegas and Texas. But for right now, we are staying right here in Wilmette.

      When we first opened, 20 years ago, we had very limited seating and were mainly a delivery pizza place. But now, not only do we still offer quality delivery and pick-up service, we also have a new dining room that seats up to 45 people. Not only has our store expanded, but so has our menu. Our whole pizzas have 20 all-fresh toppings to choose from, and we also have sandwiches, salads, breadsticks, pastas, rib-tips, sodas, juices, and soon will be offering desserts.

      For the last 20 years, pizza has been my passion, and I gladly welcome you to come and try out our delicious pizzas and other foods.


So there you have it.  I am going to try this place ASAP and will let you know if it compares.  It sounds like our best chance!

Offline Crash101

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Re: Garcia's Pizza
« Reply #73 on: December 03, 2008, 12:51:31 PM »
I used to work at Garcia's in Normal on Dale St. back in 1990-1991, even got to meet Ralph and Joe at a Christmas party! Great times were had there!!! What a fun group of people to work with!! Since then I have though about the pizza every now and then and I would randomly google Garcia's Pizza in a Pan, finally coming across this website. Wow, it was cool to know that there are other Garcia's Pizza cravers out there!! I was disappointed to find out that the pizza from the days of old does not taste like the present pizza. I was curious though about this Cheese to Please place so I contacted the former owner Howie and here is what he replied when I asked if the pizza tasted like old school Garcia's:

Hi Kevin,
    As a former Garcia's employee I thin that you'd be happy to know that Cheese To Please tastes more like the Garcia's that we remember than anything else available. I don't own it anymore, I sold it after 22 years to my 2 longtime managers and they are making it the same way that I did for all of those years.
                                                                        Howie

This has pretty much sold me on it!!!!!!! I can't wait to go and try it out!!! When I do, I will let you all know!!!!  :pizza: :pizza: :pizza:

Offline Hamir the Hermit

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Re: Garcia's Pizza
« Reply #74 on: December 22, 2008, 12:44:51 AM »
Bad news indeed;

On December 10th, Garcia's on Green shut it's doors for the final time.  I would post the link to the Daily Illini article, but apparently I can't as a new member.  If you google =Garcia's on Green= you can find the article.

This may not be the final nail in the coffin, but it is certainly getting close.

This is particularly sad to me because I spent 4 years working at this location, from 80-84, two of them as a manager.  That was, looking back, the golden age for Garcia's, when it was expanding and the future looked bright.  They were opening up a number of shops across the Midwest.  Bruce Hink was overseeing an expansion beyond the midwest with the opening of the Texas stores.  Ralph and Joe had turned down a number of very good offers to franchise the Garcia's brand, wanting to keep control of the quality.  Both Ralph and Joe were living the high life, well known CU Millionaires.  Rarely seen in the trenches of the actual stores, those duties were left to their district managers, like Ed Wilhite.  One rare exception was in the introduction of the Stuffed pizzas in 1980, when they spent many a secretive night after closing time at Green Street working up a clone of Giordano's famous stuffed pizza.  
Giordano's was opening up a store in Champaign on Daniel street (or was it John?), and Ralph and Joe wanted to steal their thunder.  So in August and early September 1980 everyone had to be cleared out of the store by midnight (normal closing time on weekdays back then was 1 AM and 2 AM on weekend nights) as Ralph and Joe, like Santa's little helpers, would come in the store, and with no one around to see,  would cook up various experimental stuffed pizzas until they hit on one that was as good as Giordano's, but with it's own, distinctive Garcia's flair.  
This was only discovered because one night we had an unexpected last minute munchie crowd come in.  The modus operandi for getting us out by midnight was to do all the prep work early, break down and clean all the stations, and send everyone home leaving only a skeleton crew for the last hour or two, which worked quite well with the light business done during late summer nights.  So when this late night rush came in, the manager, Kerry Malinski and I, did the best we could, but were overwhelmed by the volume of work and just couldn't get out by midnight.  Now, no-one knew exactly what was going on, because it was all very hush-hush.  But when 12:30 rolled around, we were still putting the finishing touches on cleaning up the restaurant, and who should come strolling in but Ralph and Joe, carrying various types of pie pans and bags of spices and the like.  They were somewhat put out that we were still there and gruffly asked us to hurry up and get out.  We did, all the while pondering what sort of secret pizza experiments they were up to.  Apparently we threw them off schedule, as well, for the morning manager, Connie Hink, reported that when she arrived in the morning (and she was, for some reason, a half hour early.  Usually the morning manager would show up at 8 or so, but that particular morning she came in at 7:30)  Joe and Ralph were still cleaning up, and she said she saw what looked like very deep dish pizzas, smaller in diameter than the usual size.  These were the new stuffed pizzas, but no-one knew it yet.
It wasn't until the first week in September that we discovered what the deal was.  Certain select individuals were chosen from the Green and Lincoln Avenue shops and we spent that week in training with Ralph and Joe learning the tricks of making this newfangled stuffed Pizza.  We also did a little tweaking as well, as I recall having a few taste samplings of Giordano's and Garcia's during this training to make sure we were making , if not a superior product, one that was at least as good.  Ah, those were the days.
I wish I had thought to make a copy of the recipe for the spices used to top the stuffed pizza, because that was quite a tantalizing mix.  It was also the only recipe we had access to.  The dough came ready made from the tomato warehouse, and the sauce was made by mixing cans of stewed tomatoes and tomato paste with water and a powdery mixture also made at the warehouse.  There was a recipe manual that the head manager had access to which had the dough and sauce recipes in them in case of emergency, but I never had access to that.  I heard that most of the stores received their dough and sauce mixes from the warehouse, but a few of the outlying stores did have to make their own.
I don't know what went wrong and why this once mighty empire has fallen on such hard times, but I have my suspicions.  On the rare occasion I get back to Illinois I try to visit my old stomping grounds and get a few half-cooked pies to bring back with me to LA.  I am saddened that I will not be able to revisit this location of so many bittersweet memories.

Hamir the Hermit