Friday, July 24, 2015
Cafe Pizzaria: A slice of Bloomington life since 1953
Categories: Wine & Culinary
by Kurt Christian for the Herald-Times (reprinted with permission)
There is a great war in Bloomington, where the lines are clearly sliced and competition has risen from within. Even though corporate giants like Pizza Hut have their ties to this city and even this restaurant, Cafe Pizzaria has stood with distinction as the first restaurant in Bloomington to specialize in pizza. It's a 61-year-old establishment with simple beginnings.
In 1953, what was then known as simply "The Pizzaria" was established in the front window of Hoover's Cafe, a lunch and breakfast restaurant that served plates for 25 cents. The oven and make-table were set in the front window for patrons to see the new spectacle that was a "pizza pie."
"I think one of the neatest stories about (my dad) is, before he even started working here, he heard about pizza pies, but he didn't actually even know what they were," said David Webb, co-owner of Cafe Pizzaria with his father, Larry. "So he rode his bike all the way into town just to see what a pizza pie was. He thought it was going to be like an apple pie, or a cherry pie."
"We stopped up and down the road collecting pop bottles to sell to buy the pizza," said Larry Webb. "We used to get five or six cents apiece for them, and when we sold enough pop bottles, we came in to get a pizza. We couldn't even afford a drink to go with it."
Thirty years after that curious bike ride into town, Larry gained ownership of the restaurant where he first learned about pizza and stromboli. At times, he worked 100 hours a week with a wife