Celebrating 40 years: Organ Stop Pizza

Dear Students,

My favorite way to beat the heat until June 30 is to stop by Organ Stop, a family can order 2 large pizzas, 2 pitchers of soda and appetizers for $40 to celebrate the restaurant’s birthday. Just last week, the restaurant started offering a gluten free pizza for patrons.

Organ Stop Pizza is our favorite family restaurant, it is one of those places that just makes you feel good. Live music, loads of variety to the songs, super-talented organists and ice cream. They play a range of popular Disney songs, movie themes, big band classics, patriotic Americana. I count on hearing the same favorites every time we visit. The best part is the exposure my children get to great music. It’s broadened their taste.

Located in Mesa, Organ Stop is  a free standing building full of organ pipes–6,000 and counting. I feel pretty nerdy about the entire arrangement–their website is fabulous, read it before you visit. The Wurlitzer has also grown over the past 40 years. When they bought the original organ, it cost about $35,000 and had about 1,000 pipes, said Jack Barz, manager and co-owner of Organ Stop Pizza. With 6,000 pipes, today it is the largest theater organ in the world, with an estimated replacement value of $4 million. It takes nearly 50 miles of wiring to connect all the pieces of the 30-ton instrument.

Organ Stop has a small arcade room that tweens and teens will like and a gift counter for fans. I have the DVD (better for grown-ups, it’s low on action and heavy on dialogue). When we don’t go, my children like to watch videos on YouTube of our favorite organists Charlie Balogh and Lew Williams.

Organ Stop is not your ordinary restaurant for the new visitor, here are some tips:

  • They accept cash and checks but no credit cards (ATM in the lobby)
  • No waitresses, you place your order in a queue when you get in.
  • The restaurant fills up with people of all ages, and some seats are better than others.
  • The pizza and salad are not amazing, but they are reasonably priced

The best plan for a family with young children is arrive when it opens with two adults. One adult can wait in line to order food and the other adult can take the kids and find a good table. On the first floor look up to find the seats located under the bubble machine. You’ll see two black boxes on the ceiling in the center of the room.

We like to sit on the second floor gallery in the center. This is a great spot for viewing the dancing cats and enjoying the deep bass pipes when they play Phantom or Star Wars.

In fact, through the years, Balogh estimates he’s played “Phantom of the Opera,” between 18,000 and 19,000 times.

Barz offered up a few other fun facts from the history of Organ Stop Pizza. In the last 40 years, an estimated 10 million customers served; about 4 million pizzas eaten during 100,000 estimated performances.

We visited over winter break and I saw the Mighty Wurlitzer ringed with poinsettias. Mr. Balogh played some holiday medleys along with the usual favorites. A great place to visit anytime.

Where do you like to go out to eat with your family? Did you visit Organ Stop pizza? What did you think?

Under the Sea,
Mrs. Kenney

Fun Fact: The newest addition to the organ is a set of tuned cowbells added in 2011.

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