Whether we like it or not, things in our lives are constantly evolving. Change is often met with good things. For example, without change, we would not have Hungry Howie’s® Flavored Crust® pizzas. Pizza history is filled with change, and the pizza timeline is a significant cornerstone after another, to give us what we know and love as pizza today. But pizza is not the only thing that has changed. The pizza place has also evolved to match its pizza companion.
The Origin of Pizzerias - 1905
To understand the evolution of the pizza place, we have to go back to the first pizzeria in the US. Gennaro Lombardi sold coal-oven pizzas out of his grocery store in Manhattan back in 1905. The pies quickly became a lunch staple among regulars, and so it became the first pizzeria in the US.
Lombardi’s remained the only US pizzeria for a few years. It wasn’t until 1910 that Joe’s Tomato Pies opened its doors and became the second pizzeria established in America.
These Italian-inspired pizza places resembled a small Italian shop. Back in the day, pizzerias were places for Italians that wanted to feel at home.
The Evolution of the Pizza - 1943
As pizza started to gain popularity, more and more pizza places started popping up everywhere. And with more pizza places, the first pizza revolution began. During the 1940s, local pizzerias started to appear, giving birth to new styles of pizzas.
In 1943, someone decided to make a pizza using a cake mold, loading the dough with toppings and sauce, giving birth to the now traditional deep-dish style pizza. All at a small shop in Illinois by the name Pizzeria Uno.
The way pizzas were produced continued to change in the following years. The first frozen pizzas hit the market in 1957, opening the doors to a new (and unexpected) pizza place.
The Original Pizza Parlor – 1958
Pizzerias were gaining popularity, and everyone had their favorite spot to enjoy some classic-style pizza. But, in 1958 some guys decided to open a 25-seat pizza parlor that later became the first pizza chain location. The birth of pizza chains like Hungry Howie’s® is all by the innovation of these guys.
The Pizza Place Comes Home - 1995
Frozen pizza opened a world of possibilities to the future of the pizza place. By 1995, the “take-and-bake” revolution was underway. Customers would buy an uncooked pizza and bake it at home. This “bake at home” pizzas still remain popular today. But, suddenly the pizza placed moved into people’s homes.
That’s probably why the history of delivery is so fascinating. Suddenly, Americans didn’t have to move to enjoy their favorite pizza slices. A simple phone call got them closer to their pizza pie without moving away from their couch. For a while there, the innovation of the pizza delivery system moved people from visiting the pizza parlor and just enjoying pizza from the comfort of home.
The Farm-to-Table Pizzeria - 1980
While pizza chains continued to expand, adding more and more locations, the 1980s saw a different change. In states like California, there was a huge trend for farm-to-table restaurants, and people expected that same trend to translate into pizzerias. And it did.
This could easily be thought of the origins of fast-casual dining. The farm-to-table movement opened the door to many artisan pizzerias that sourced local products only, portrayed a more farm-like vibe, and started pushing for creative individual pizzas that could be highly personalized, moving away from the chain-like methodology.
The Modern Pizzeria
Fast forward to the 2010s, and the pizza place changed again. Trying to stay true to its origins, pizzerias found a way to continue innovating through “do-it-yourself” pizza places or self-serving menus to expand on customer’s creativity, without losing its chain roots.
That's why today, we have fast-casual pizza places that let you build your own pizza on the spot, even though they still resemble a classic pizza parlor. These fast-casual pizzerias are the perfect blend between pizza parlors and pizza chains.
Also, pizza has moved from the original pizza place. Now pizza is served at school cafeterias, it’s found as a snack in movie theaters, can be spotted at gas stations, buffets, and even non-pizza restaurants. Could it be said that a pizza place is an establishment that sells pizza? Maybe, maybe not.
The Future Pizza Place
With the evolution of the pizza place comes even more innovation and uncertainty. For example, pizza vending machines are now a reality, meaning you don’t even need to be in a restaurant to get a pizza. Does this means the vending machine should be considered the pizza place itself? We’re not sure about that.