The “Real Story”
History is a funny thing. Everyone seems to remember things in their own way, so we often hear many different stories that describe the same event. Just about every day, a customer will tell us a great story about Grandpa Sam and how they hadn't even heard of pizza until they met him. We love hearing these stories and we love sharing the legacy that our Grandpa Sam and Grandma Louise started.
To help set the record straight, here's the definitive story of the very first Sammy's Pizza, straight from Grandma Louise-
Grandma grew up in the restaurant business and helped Grandpa Sam start a little cafe in Keewatin, MN. They served homemade Italian food, but no pizza. Gramps didn't know much about the restaurant business yet, (he had been an iron miner), but he had a larger-than-life personality. Fortunately, Grandma Louise was and still is the best cook we know of, so it was a great combination.
They did well, but Keewatin is a very small town and they wanted to move on to bigger and better things. After a year there, they looked into opening a bigger restaurant in the nearby town of Hibbing. About that time, Gramps had been hearing about how pizza was the big thing in Chicago. A friend of the family had some success there, so Gramps went to check it out. His friend wouldn't give him any recipes, but he taught Gramps the basics of making pizzas. When he came back, he borrowed enough money to buy a brick oven (the same kind we use today) and they worked on recipes.
They didn't really know where to start, so they experimented with a new batch of dough and sauce every morning and ate pizza every day for weeks! After a lot of trial and error, and with Grandma's amazing talents in the kitchen, they finally perfected the legendary secret recipes we still use every day. They added the new pizza recipes to the already fantastic menu of Italian food, they rented the building at 107 East Howard Street in Hibbing, and the very first Sammy's Pizza opened on October 2, 1954.
The original name was actually “La Pizzeria,” but everyone called it “Sammy's Pizza” and the name stuck.
Eventually, Gramps partnered up with family members and close friends to open up over 20 stores around Minnesota, Wisconsin, and North Dakota. We've never been corporate, we've never been a chain. There are currently 18 affiliated stores, they are all owned and operated independently. After Gramps passed away, Dad formed “Sammy's United” to help keep everyone together. We meet with the other owners 3 times a year and we all work hard to ensure everyone is getting the best pizza we can possibly make.
We always love hearing stories about our history and about our amazing Grandparents. Thanks for being loyal customers for nearly 60 years- we promise if you keep coming in, we'll keep making your favorite pizza and Italian food.