“Artisan pizza” is out.
Retro pizza is very much in.
Retro pizza has a thin, cracker-like crust. It’s the kind of pizza a generation grew up with, usually off an all-you-can-eat buffet.
And nowhere is more retro than Parton’s Pizza.
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For 50 years, the Partons have served old-time pizzas in a traditional pizza “parlor” with red-and-white checked tablecloths, red vinyl booths, red chairs with heart-shaped backs, plenty of pepperoni and a serve-yourself salad bar with various day-glo colors of dressing.
This is no typical chain pizza buffet. At a normal lunch or dinner, Parton’s bakes up to 250 pizzas.
That’s one every 45 seconds.
Sometimes, the line tretches out the door and pizza diners fill the parking lot.
So Parton’s is expanding after 50 years, adding a new dining room next door that’ll hold the class reunion or the soccer team.
Jody Parton stripped everything out of a former spa and is turning it into a larger and equally kitschy Parton’s dining room, with the same red booths, tablecloths and the eternal holiday decor.
(Every day is a holiday at Parton’s. Right now, it’s a spooky Halloween with ghosts and goblins everywhere. Then comes Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter and the summer patriotic holidays, each with its own flags and wall hangings and ornaments bedecking the salad bar.)
“We were so squeezed for space, we had to do something,” Parton said. He’s adding more ovens to handle the 70-100 pizzas he bakes daily before lunch as orders for Lockheed Martin and other nearby employers.
Between Parton’s and the Mama’s Pizza on Camp Bowie, the west side is the pizza buffet headquarters. (Not to mention the Irving-based Cici’s chain.)
“The owner of the Cici’s franchise eats over here,” Jody Parton said.
The most popular pizzas used to be the pepperoni or the “supreme.” When Parton’s opened under the name Jeno’s Pizza Village, a small cheese pizza cost 90 cents and a large supreme cost $3.10. Now, they’re $5.75 and $27.
The buffet costs $11. (For three or more, it might be cheaper to order the giant pizza special, two for $27.)
The most popular pizza is a bacon-tomato with ranch dressing. There’s also a chicken fajita pizza with picante, and more recent options such as spinach alfredo.
Jody’s parents, Sunny and the late Joe Parton, had lived in Syracuse and liked the pizza there, Sunny Parton said.
Parton’s regular customers have included the rock band Pantera and other bands touring or playing at west side nightclubs, pro wrestlers on the circuit and years of Miss Texas contestants, the Partons said. One customer comes every year when he’s visiting from Paris, France, Sunny said.
They are hoping for a new visitor: TV host Guy Fieri.
A producer from the Food Network called a few days ago, and a Parton’s worker took down the number on a napkin.
“Somebody spilled a Coke all over it,” Jody Parton said. “They threw it away.”
Go before Fieri finds it.