There is apparently no stopping Organ Stop Pizza, the iconic East Valley home of the “Mighty Wurlitzer Pipe Organ.” Once a chain of three local restaurants in Phoenix, Mesa and Tucson, the unique venue for pepperoni and pop tunes remains only in its Mesa location.
But the organ keeps growing.
“We’ve been here since 1995,” says Jack Barz, Organ Stop manager.
“Here” is 1149 E. Southern. The 700-capacity restaurant attracts people not just because of the delicious pizza and a fresh salad bar.
“We have the largest theater organ in the world,” Barz says.
That’s “in the world” as in: anywhere on the planet. The original Organ Stop Pizza opened in 1972 in Phoenix. Founder Bill Brown loved two things: pizza, and theater organs. Naturally, he brought the two together. As his business grew, the organs expanded as well.
The remaining instrument at the Mesa locale boasts four keyboards and a pedalboard connected to 6,000 pipes.
Very few people can play the massive, complicated instrument. Part of the reason is that only 40 theater organs currently exist in the United States, where once there were more than 7,000. The unique instrument with its horseshoe-shaped console, originally designed as accompaniment to silent films, flourished between about 1910 and 1930.
“There’s probably only twelve to fifteen people who can play this instrument and play it well,” Barz says. Organ Stop Pizza employs four of them.
Usually open to the public only in the evening, Organ Stop Pizza books lunches only for private groups. But it makes three annual lunchtime exceptions: Easter, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. Father’s Day this month is June 18, and Organ Stop will open at 11:15 a.m., with lunch service concluding at 1 p.m. For $12 ($10 for children under age 10) fathers and those celebrating fatherhood get an unlimited pizza buffet plus salad and soft drinks. Dairy-free and gluten-free options will be available.
Because of the popularity of the event, advance ticket purchase is required. Call 480- 813-5700.
Of course, the luncheon will be accompanied by music on the theater organ. As usual, the organist will take requests.
“’The Phantom of the Opera’ is the most frequently requested song,” Barz says.
A close second to that is “anything Disney.”
On the other hand, don’t ask for “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida.”
“None of our organists know it.”
For more information, visit organstoppizza.com or call 480-813-5700.