Shakey’s Pizza

Shakey's Pizza

If you’ve ever heard ragtime piano music and the first thing you think of is pizza, you are likely one of the millions that has dined at Shakey’s Pizza. Perhaps you celebrated a birthday there, or met with your Little League team, or maybe your family just wanted an inexpensive way to avoid cooking dinner for the evening. Whatever the reason, a friendly straw hat-wearing employee stood ready to dish out the goods.

The first Shakey’s opened in Sacramento, California in 1954, thanks to two entrepreneurs, Ed Plummer and Sherwood “Shakey” Johnson (whose nickname came from nerve damage he received in WWII). It holds the distinction of being the first franchised pizza parlor.

Johnson, a musician and lover of Dixieland jazz would entertain his guests regularly on piano or banjo. For customers who weren’t privy to this personal touch, most Shakey’s were eventually equipped with player pianos that could belt out a few tunes from Scott Joplin for a mere quarter.

Johnson eventually sold his shares in the company in 1967, and at the time, there were some 272 stores nationwide. The new owners began expanding internationally expanding to Canada first, then throughout Asia. Unfortunately, when the 80s rolled around, many of the now-500 US-based Shakey’s closed, although they are still very popular in places such as Japan and the Philippines.

Today, only 63 stores exist in the United States, with 55 of them located in California. The company continues its efforts to return Shakey’s to its glory days, but in the meantime, there are millions of former kids that fondly remember the ragtime orchestrated celebrations of yesteryear, when a birthday almost certainly meant feasting on pizza at Shakey’s.

Have you ever dined on a pizza from Shakey’s? If so, we’d love to hear all of your memories of this nostalgic restaurant in our comments section below.

3 Responses to “Shakey’s Pizza”

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  1. Gina says:

    My parents went there once, maybe before I was born, and were not impressed with the taste of the pizza. They won a free pizza and gave it to somebody else. I can’t say whether I like Shakey’s Pizza or not because I haven’t been to one yet. But no matter what my parents say, I’m willing to give their pizza a shot.

  2. amy brown says:

    I don’t remember the pizza, but it was just great to go out to eat in my day!!

  3. Bill Long says:

    Check out this link. There ore over 150 in the Philippines!

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