Who wants pizza?

A reflection on my memories of my local pizzeria that is now closed down.
July 01, 2013
SegaFanatic here once again, this time NOT talking about movies or video games!

I know, shocking, isn't it? This time, in honor of making it to my 11th article (11 is my unlucky number, and I'm still managing), we're taking a look at a memory that has a lot of nostalgic value to me. Join me today as we take a look at my local pizzeria that I used to go to when I was younger. Now, I don't remember the name of the pizzeria, as it's been closed for years now, so for the purposes of this article, we'll be referring to it as "Pizza Planet".

Pizza was always a food my whole family enjoyed. Being Italian, most of my family also thoroughly enjoyed things like spagetti, lasagna, and several other pasta meals, but the one food everybody would consistently chow down on was pizza. The thing with pizza was that there were so many places in our town where you could get pizzas. There was Pizzas, Teresa's Pizza, Domino's, Romeos, and the microwavable pizzas you could get at the grocery store. Now, Pizza Planet, our dining question, was lost in the masses of more popular establishments, so I never really knew about it's existence for quite some time. This all changed sometime when I was 8 years old, and I got invited to some kid's birthday party. I think the kid's name was Devin or something, but I wanna call him John, because that sounds like a much more inviting name.

So, as I was saying, John invited me to his 8th birthday party, and it was at this place called Pizza Planet. I was confused until I read the address and saw it was literally right next to my favorite movie rental store, Movie Gallery. Now, Movie Gallery is a whole 'nother can of worms, so let's just say I knew where I was going. My mom drove me up to Pizza Planet, and I got out of the car.

"I'll be back at 6 'o clock".
"Yeah OK sure bye, love you Mom!"

Upon walking inside, I was immediately in trance. Pizza Planet had 4-5 tables, a vending machine, and a counter for ordering pizza. Now, this restaurant wasn't just for munching on pizza, no, this place had a friggin' arcade with prizes behind the counter that would please any sane child mind. CD players, huge plush dolls, those semi-portable pinball machines, pure awesomeness. The thing about the arcade was that it also took up over 3/4 of the building, and Pizza Planet was the biggest building out of the whole plaza in which it was located in. So, when I heard all of those bloops and saw all of those flashing lights coming from the arcade, you could imagine where I spent most of THAT party.

I swear that arcade had all of the cult classics. Granted, you have your generic Skee Ball and ticket games, but there was also Terminator 2, X-Men, Area 51, The Simpsons, Star Wars, Pac Man, Donkey Kong, Street Fighter 2, Mortal Kombat, the arcade machines any man would die for. I remember being an hour or so late to the party, and John had apparently gotten a full garbage bag of tickets in a matter of one hour, and I was in complete awe. With only an hour left of the party, I HAD to live up to John's achievement, and with that goal in mind, I darted into the arcade.

Before playing any true games, I tried those games where you attempt to win a bunch of tickets. Figuratively, I failed repeatedly. I did manage to win 100 tickets off this stupid game where you attempt to spin this wheel and hope to god it lands on the Jackpot space. Have you ever been to an arcade as of recent and seen the "Big Bass Wheel"? It was something like that. However, that Jackpot space I brought up earlier looks like this:

YOU SEE THAT? That means not only did you have to land on the only jackpot space, it has to land smack dab in the middle of the space. You see, this is why you always go for the 75 or the 100 spaces, they're much easier to land on. So, with that lovely gaming experience out of the way, I decided to play another stupid game where you "attempt" to win tickets. In this game, you deposit a token into the coin slot, and the coin lands on a conveyor belt. Now, this wouldn't be so bad, except the fact that the token moves down this stupid track, and it takes a few seconds to get off the track and land on the conveyor belt. See, on the belt, there are spaces printed onto it which have ticket amounts on it, and you have to get the coin to land on a good space. I luckily managed to get the coin to land on the "75 Tickets" space TWO TIMES IN A ROW, but that was it. After that, I checked the clock. 5:30. Crap, I'd already wasted half an hour. I wanted to play a couple of good games that weren't luck based, but then I heard those words;

"Everyone gather around the cake! It's time to sing 'Happy Birthday' to John".
No. I refused to. That would waste minutes of my childhood. MINUTES! Thus, I hid behind a claw machine for a few seconds and went over the Terminator 2 arcade cabinet. I put my tokens in, and grabbed hold of the gun. BOOM BOOM BOOM CH-POW! The thing about T2: The Arcade Game is that the machine makes quite the racket, and I got caught relatively quickly. What was my punishment, you may ask?

"No arcade for the rest of the party, young man! Treat your friends with some respect!"

NOOOOOOO! How could they? Half an hour of my childhood, GONE! As a child, that is the equivalent of 50 years wasted. I walked up to the counter and bought a bag of army guys with my 150 tickets. I played with those for a couple minutes and then looked in the arcade. I saw children playing, having fun, and I slammed my head on the table. My parents came to pick me up at 6 PM, and I left the facility sighing in disappointment. I told my parents how awesome Pizza Planet was and that we should go there again sometime as a family or something like that. I don't actually know what I said, I'm writing this entirely off my memory.

But yeah. Being a family who actually hung out with each other, it would often be a family event to go out to Pizza Planet, but it was usually a great time. We would usually sit down and eat a pizza together, but after that party from earlier in my life, I never went in the arcade without my parent's permission. Even at times where it didn't even matter, I still asked my parents if it was OK to go into the arcade.

"Ma, can I go inside the arcade?"
"Anthony, you were just in there two minutes ago".
"I said 'yes' already!"
"I implied it!"
"OK, thank you!"

I loved the pizza at Pizza Planet. It was homemade, and a lot of people I knew didn't like it. And, when you own a PIZZA business, and nobody likes your PIZZA, that's a problem. Well, at least I enjoyed the pizza. Figuratively, I would bring the pizza inside the arcade. As I got older, I stopped bringing the food inside after some kid spilled soda on the "Sonic Spinner" game. You would think after the circuits got fried, they would ban bringing food and drinks into the arcade, but "NOPE!"

Another great thing about Pizza Planet that I brought up earlier is that it was right next to one of my favorite movie/video game rental stores called "Movie Gallery". So, when we went out together, we could pick out some movies, grab some pizza, play some arcade games, go home, and our Friday Night was set. Often, I'd rather pick out a video game for me to play instead of a movie for the family to watch, because my taste in films blows, and my brother and father were usually in charge of picking out the movies. I could go into more detail about the subject, but Movie Gallery is reserved for a later article.

The choice of pizza was always a hot-button issue (I hope to god I used that phrase correctly). At the time, nobody in our family liked the same toppings. I wanted cheese, Dad wanted everything, my brother wanted pepperoni, Mom wanted disgusting things, and my sister wanted sausage. Ultimately, we'd just order plain-jane cheese pizza with nothing on it. Delicious. I don't remember our family having favorite games in the arcade, we'd just try any game we'd want to play. Most notable being Area 51, just for requiring skill and the clear screen (unlike T2, where the screen was blurry). I remember losing at both games frequently, but I never really got good at video games until I was 13.

Recently, the pizzeria has closed. There wasn't any announcement, the place just closed down. I'm too old to really care, but I will remember how awesome it was. Even the smallest things, like going on bike rides, can have sentimental value to people. People have memories, and even the most trivial ones can have an impact on one's life. A stupid pizzeria holds great nostalgic value to me, and I bet something both nostalgic and ridiculous applies to you as well. Thank you, ladies and gentlemen! I'm SegaFanatic, and I'm OUTTA HERE!
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