|Hometown Pizza is more than just a place to get a great pizza - it's a memorial to local sports heroes|
|Patti Sells | News-Telegram Feature Editor|
Feb. 13, 2004 -- Just like the Bruce Springsteen song says, "Glory days, they'll pass you by," but with the help of Hometown Pizza, people looking for a place to kick back and recapture the memories of their youth reminiscing with old friends need not look any further.
Hometown Pizza provides the perfect setting with its decor of old photos and sports and organizational mementos collected from schools such as Como, Yantis, Sulphur Bluff, North Hopkins, Saltillo, Cooper, Miller Grove, Peerless Christian Academy, and Sulphur Springs, of course.
"I thought it would be a cool thing to do for the kids," said owner/operator Eric Drum, a 1986 graduate of Sulphur Springs High School. "It's a place for the kids that stay in school and stay involved in sports and school activities to come and be recognized for the effort they put out."
According to Drum, two years ago when he opened Hometown Pizza in the strip center of the VF Factory Outlet Mall, it was with the idea in mind to provide kids a place to hang out. And he knew right away what its theme would be.
"I contacted all the schools asking for team pictures, old uniforms, T-shirts, whatever they had and told them what I wanted to do with their cooperation," Drum recalled.
Drum said some of the schools organizations have really caught on to the idea of memorializing the students and are quick to provide him with pictures and T-shirts.
One coach even went a little above and beyond and scraped up old pictures, according to Drum. He said Sulphur Springs High School head football coach Brad Turner told him, "I bet I have some old pictures you would be interested in," and provided him with a set of enlarged photos of the Wildcats' winning season as district champs in 1985 and 1986 - the glory days of when Drum himself was a Wildcat football player.
The walls are lined with letter jackets, jerseys, T-shirts, pom poms and photos dating back to 1985, but they have plenty of room for more, according to Drum.
He plans to continue to accumulate memorabilia for the enjoyment of patrons for years to come. Already customers come in not only to enjoy great pizza, but to look for certain people.
"A lot of kids will come in and look to see if they can find their dads or uncles or teachers," Drum said. "They think it's really neat and get a kick out of it."
Drum said he's not only a Wildcat fan, but a fan of all the area sports and schools.
"I try to do a lot for the schools," said Drum. "I'm a big fan of all of them. Since I have to work, this is the way I show my support."
Not only is he a fan of community sports, but also university sports, as well. This is substantiated by the names of his menu specials such as the Fab 5, a five-meat topping pie, and the Mean Green, which has a spinach and alfredo topping.
Drum uses freshly chopped vegetable toppings and makes his own special pizza dough each day. They also make their own potato salad, pasta salad and pea salad and provide a variety of pasta dishes and sandwiches.
"We have no gimmicks, just great pizza for a great price," he said. "We don't play any of those gimmick games."
But the establishment does provide a few video arcade games for the kids.
"We have air hockey, a couple of fighting games and a driving game," Drum said. "And we keep the TV on ESPN."
The pizza parlor is well-lit and well-chaperoned for a reason.
"You won't find any dark corners here," laughed Drum. "This is a safe place for the kids to come and hang out and look at pictures of themselves and their friends. It's kind of like a reward."
According to Drum, he realizes how hard it is for kids to stay on a straight path and believes that staying involved in extracurricular activities is a key element in helping young people not stray into drugs and alcohol.
"Sports and other school activities are good for that," he said. "It gives kids something to do and stay out of trouble. I like kids and I like sports, so I just wanted to have a place to recognize their efforts."