Growing up in the ’80s, Fridays were Pizza Night, as per Reagan Era law in the United States. Usually we got a carryout from one of the five local pizza places in one the five strip malls, all within a mile of home. My newly driver’s licensed brother was dispatched to pick it up, and seeing as how he was 16, half the pizza would be gone by time he completed the four-minute return trip. Tiring of this, and also needing to escape the shrieking din of three children, two of which were teenagers, the occasional Friday would merit a trip from one part of the suburb to the other, to Oregon Grinder Pizza.
Yes, that is a play on words, and the Oregon Grinder was thoroughly committed to the bit. The place was deafening, with wall-to-wall endless organ grinder style music, you know, like what Italian immigrants would play on the street while a weird, probably illegal monkey harassed passersby for spare change on the streets of 1890s Brooklyn. Oregon Grinder had all of the organ grinder music, and also the staff dressed up in red-and-white striped organ grinder outfits. It was weird.
But O.G. came through on the two things that matter most to a child as far as pizza parlors are concerned: pizza and video games. First of all, the pizza boasted about three times the amount of cheese as the a regular double-cheese pizza from the usual pizza hole, and at that place he ordered salami instead of pepperoni, because my mom thought that was healthier for some reason. As for the video games, well, you got free arcade game tokens with your pizza, so it was an all out Frogger war between my siblings and I. The loser had to stay at the table and play the Pac-Man console that was embedded into the tables, which I still think I might have dreamed up.
The one we frequented closed down sometime in the early ’90s. Like everything else in the suburbs, the building is now probably a Subway, a Curves, and a self-serve frozen yogurt place.