When The Pizza Place re-opened in late July, Jeanine Grizzard might have expected problems from the ovens. After all, the ovens had never been replaced since the Grizzards started operating the Weatherford restaurant in 1976, and the repairmen were quite familiar with them.
In eight days, not only did one go out, but both of them.
“I knew it would take about two weeks to get new ones, so I went ahead and ordered them,” said the former school teacher.
This came after the Grizzard family had to close the restaurant for almost two months this summer when Jeanine’s husband, Roger Grizzard, was killed in a May traffic accident in Lubbock. Jeanine Grizzard and the couple’s adult son, Tyler Grizzard, also suffered injuries.
But Jeanine Grizzard got help with the ovens.
In one of the most unusual GoFundMe accounts established in recent memory, The Pizza Place Oven Fund was created to help Jeanine Grizzard and the restaurant, considered an institution in Parker County.
“If I had not done it, someone else would have,” said Baily Mize, who created the fund on Aug. 6.
Mize started the account one night with a goal of $15,000 and by the next morning it reached $4,000. Within 24 hours, the campaign surpassed the $15,000 mark.
As of Friday, 222 donors had raised $19,970.
“It’s been pretty amazing,” said Jeanine Grizzard in a Friday telephone interview with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. She says she still enjoys a slice of pizza with pepperoni and mushroom on it after 43 years in the business.
For decades, the Pizza Place at 1218 S. Main St. in Weatherford has been the clubhouse, eatery, hangout, reunion facility and after-game stop for thousands of residents in Parker County and beyond.
Roger Grizzard and his wife, Jeanine, were just not restaurant owners, they were devoted to Weatherford. Roger Grizzard was a trustee at Weatherford College for 22 years, two years as chairman. He also taught government, economics and social studies at Weatherford High School for 21 years.
Jeanine Grizzard also was a teacher for more than 20 years in Weatherford.
“At one time, we lived in Stephenville, and he was teaching, coaching and driving school buses,” Jeanine said. “He was offered a pizza restaurant where he could make more money and he took it.”
For years, the Grizzards had kept the restaurant open seven days a week from about 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., sometimes staying open later on game nights.
“My husband I both worked there,” Mize said. “We probably have put in more than 10 years there.”
The tragedy in Lubbock forced the Grizzard family to close for two months this summer, but Jeanine Grizzard never had any doubts that they would re-open.
She said her son, Tyler Grizzard, was seriously injured and has needed physical rehabilitation.
“When I was told he would be better, I knew I wanted to re-open,” she said. “I wanted for it to be ready for his return.”
And once again, the Grizzards’ community came to help. Before it re-opened in late July, volunteers showed up to help with cleaning, painting and repairing the restaurant.
The Pizza Place was closed a second time because the ovens went out, but this time the closure lasted just eight days.
Jeanine Grizzard and her staff re-opened on Aug. 14 with a minor change. The Pizza Place isn’t open on Sundays.
“Roger and his family have been our biggest cheerleaders for years,” Baily Mize said. “The community just wanted to pay them back.”
To make a donation, visit gofundme.com/f/the-pizza-place-oven-fund