After a 12-year hiatus, several months of renovations and the initiation of new owners, Pizza House re-opened its doors to Shippensburg residents last week.
The Richardson family of Shawn, Tricia and Te’hayenish are known in the Shippensburg community for the tasty, sweet treats they serve at Cabin on King, but they will be challenged to diversify their culinary skills with savory foods while co-owning Pizza House.
In addition to the completed renovations on the Pizza House building located at 100 E. King St., which included a new ceiling and the installation of a ventilation system in the kitchen to accommodate frying food, the Richardsons also have modest upgrades in mind that they plan to gradually incorporate into the business.
The original Pizza House was opened in the late ’60s by the Pililis family, and the Pililises ran the pizza shop for a short period of time before husband and wife Ioannis “John” Panagos and Maria Panagos, of Shippensburg, took ownership.
After John died in 1997 and Maria in 2000, their children took over the Pizza House business until its 2006 closure.
The building remained vacant for several years before Polly and Stone moved into the location in 2014. But Polly and Stone’s run was short, and the business shut down this past October — leaving the building empty once again.
As a friend of the Panagos family, Richardson said the death of John and Maria and the closing of Pizza House that followed, emotionally stirred him.
Because of the connection he had with both the owners and the shop, he never entirely gave up on Pizza House, even when the building sat dark and quiet for years.
“In 2006 I actually wanted to keep the business going, but the timing wasn’t right,” Shawn said.
When Shawn learned of the recent closing of Polly and Stone, it prompted him to revisit the idea of keeping Pizza House alive. After some consideration, he decided that unlike in 2006, the timing now seemed right. So he reached out to his childhood friends Viki and Tim for their blessing, and touched by his persistence to honor John and Maria in re-opening the pizza shop, the two gave more than a blessing.
“They always had their own special recipes, so without those it really wouldn’t be Pizza House,” Shawn said. “So I asked them to think about it [for] a couple days, if they were willing to relinquish them to me, and they got back to me and said they were willing to do so because of our history.”
The owners largely intend to maintain the building’s historic feel and preserve the same distinctive taste that Pizza House served the community before it closed, because for Shawn, the Panagos family and locals alike, Pizza House is the home to many memories.
While its employees focus on perfecting Pizza House favorites such as its classic pizza and grinders, the selections on the menu will be limited for some time, Shawn said.
“We want to hone in on certain things and do that well,” Shawn said. “I think that restaurants that try to do every different food, everything can’t be fresh and they can’t be doing everything well.”
Some of the new items that will be added onto the menu once the basics are mastered will include a spaghetti meal, sides such as French fries and even a small selection of vegan dishes.
With the Pizza House sign vibrantly shining in the building’s window again, this piece of living Shippensburg history will have the opportunity to re-welcome those who remember the times they once spent at Pizza House, and building lasting bonds and memories with new customers.
“To bring it back after 12 years in the same location with the same recipes, to me is just unfathomable,” Shawn said. “I didn’t think it was going to happen, but here we are, opening back up.”