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Home mySSlife Off the Menu Off the Menu: Staying Power - After 26 years, Pizza Inn still going strong

Off the Menu: Staying Power - After 26 years, Pizza Inn still going strong

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alt Pizza places have come and gone in Sulphur Springs, but Pizza Inn has continued to be a mainstay among local restaurants for the past 26 years. “Pizza Hut went out of business and came back, Ken’s was the main one when I first went into business, and then there was Peddlers; lots of them have came and went, but we just keep hanging around,” said Joe Crouch of the establishment located at 1320 Mockingbird Lane.

According to Crouch, he was fortunate enough to be able to buy the Pizza Inn restaurant from the Dodd family about 15 years ago.

“They got the business off to a fine start and it had a wonderful reputation when I arrived,” said Crouch.

The Pizza Inn franchise celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2008 while the Sulphur Springs location commemorated 25 years of service to the Hopkins County community. Lots of changes have taken place throughout the years, according to Crouch, most recently a bigger and better building.

“It was time,” said Crouch of the move made about 15 months ago. “We had pretty much outgrown the old building.

“It was tired,  getting a little long in the tooth, kind of like me,” he added with a chuckle, explaining he has been semi-retired for some time now, having passed the torch to his two sons, Nathan and Joseph.

Joseph has since sold his part of the business to local dairyman Alan Screws in order to pursue a career in banking. Nathan, on the other hand, has expanded his enterprise by opening a Pizza Inn in Lindale as well.

The new facility in Sulphur Springs remains at the old location and produces the same great pizza it has for years, according to Crouch. Now, however, seating accommodates 200 customers and space allows for two private meeting or party rooms, as well as a spacious new game room.

“That’s all been a benefit to everybody,” Crouch emphasized.

And like the growing business, he said the menu just keeps getting larger, too.

“Our menu has gotten so big, I don’t even know if I know everything on it,” he laughed.

Taco pizza, spinach alfredo, barbecue beef or chicken, Hawaiian, or any other combination your imagination can come up with can be made to order at the customer’s request.

“Pasta has become more popular as people become more and more health conscious,” Crouch pointed out. “Of course, the salad bar has always been an integral part of our business.

“It’s not just your lettuce and tomato salad bar,” he emphasized.

Pasta salads, fruit salads, cottage cheese and a variety of pickles, peppers and other condiments complement the spread that includes chocolate and banana pudding as well, which leads us to the latest craze –  dessert pizza.

“We have NUMEROUS dessert pizzas – fruit flavors like cherry, apple – we have Bavarian cream, cinnamon stromboli, chocolate chip,” he explained. “Dessert here used to be kind of an afterthought, but now everybody’s kind of like me and has a sweet tooth.”

Desserts have grown so popular an entire bar now displays an array of the tempting sweets.

“Even in these hard economic times we are now in, you still get a lot of value for your dollar here,” said Crouch.

Pizza Inn is open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. with hours extended until 10 p.m. on weekend nights. The buffet is served Monday through  Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. with an all-day buffet on Sunday.

“We have basically built our business on community involvement and good food and good service,” said Crouch. “Our product has been consistent and our employees that have served here have been consistent.”

According to Crouch, they’re fortunate in that three employees have been with them for more than 12 years. He went on to say two or three have been with Pizza Inn longer than 10 years; and a whole slew have been there five to 10 years.

“That says a lot, I think,” said Crouch. “Sulphur Springs has been extremely good to my family. It’s a wonderful place. We moved here because we were looking for a place our children could grow up in, a community that had good schools and the kind of values that Monica and I have. Sulphur Springs has filled all those needs that we had for our family, and I hope we have been an asset to the community. We have sure strived to be.”

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Over the next several months, the News-Telegram will feature local restaurants and the people who run them.
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