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broadway caboose car

This Twin Cities icon strikes an amazing balance between heritage, modernity and innovation.

Broadway-exteriorAfter Italian immigrant John Spallacci opened a bar in Minneapolis in 1953, he decided to cook up a little finger food for hungry patrons—and what better pick than pizza? Eddie Peck bought the operation (and the now-beloved cracker-crust pizza recipe) in 1961 and wisely continued the tradition, jostling between a little make area in the front window, an undersized oven and ravenous bar-goers. To serve the growing crowds, Peck enlisted his wife and mother to whip up sauces and dough as he churned out handmade sausage. “They gained a reputation as a place to stop for pizza and a beer; word spread, and the place was bursting at the seams,” recounts Jim Kruizenga, current president and CEO of Broadway Pizza (broadwaypizza.com). “When the I-94 was built in the early ’70s, they moved two blocks down to a beautiful property overlooking the Mississippi—and that move pushed them to expand.”

By the time Peck was ready for retirement in 1990, Kruizenga, a former supper club operator, jumped at the chance to own a piece of the pizzeria he’d personally enjoyed for so many years. Since then, he has raised Broadway to new heights, growing it from only a few locations 25 years ago to 18 today in the Twin Cities area. The pizzeria is now known for its lively full-service bars, Broadway-Edfamily-friendly dining environment and diverse menu (Kruizenga added deep-dish, hand-tossed, build-your-own sandwiches, and gluten-free options over the years). But its iconic reputation still relies on Spallacci’s cracker-thin pies. “Longevity has its merits, and we really embraced our heritage while building a more expansive concept,” Kruizenga says. “Hearing the phenomenal stories people share about coming here for decades—it’s just amazing how Broadway Pizza has interacted in so many people’s lives.”

Kruizenga sees further expansion in his future. Last June, he opened a fast-casual Broadway Pizza concept, including full bar and restaurant, in Garrison, Minnesota—but with a twist: There’s a Burger King under the same roof (the only co-branded concept BK has ever approved, he notes). And, after considerable early success, a couple more are already in the works. “There’s always pressure to be amazing, but though we evolve and embrace some new things, we continue to be successful and able to grow because we refuse to abandon our roots,” asserts Kruizenga. “We take our time; we’re just little guys, and we’re not trying to be that 100-restaurant chain. ‘Blocking and tackling’ is my mantra. It’s not about doing one thing correctly, but everything possible. That’s what it takes to be successful.”

By Tracy Morin

broadwaypizza.com

7 Comments

  1. Vern GraffReply
    August 17, 2018 at 4:34 pm

    Used to eat at Spallaccis on Hennepin Avenue near Franklin. Great Italian food. In the late 60’s.

  2. Dan TorfinReply
    November 23, 2018 at 8:31 pm

    We ate at Broadway Pizza this afternoon and my wife commented that she was having a flashback to when we ate pizza at a Spallacci’s Pizza on Hennepin Ave in the 60’s. Not too far from an Embers and the original Brave New Workshop theater. I asked the waitress for the menu again so I could show her the Spallacci name in the “history” story of the company. There must be a connection to the the Hennepin Ave store, excellent pizza!

  3. GinaReply
    November 30, 2021 at 10:35 am

    My grandfather is James Spallacci, John Spallacci’s brother. Our family grew up at Spallacci’s pizza I probably have photographs of us all sitting at the front table at the Hennepin Ave. store. We love Broadway Pizza after all these years with the same sauce and sausage as back in 1961!

    • Jennifer SnyderReply
      December 14, 2021 at 12:35 pm

      I would love to see any or all of those pictures!!

  4. GeoffReply
    November 30, 2021 at 10:53 pm

    I would love to see a chronology of store openings with the year they opened and closed in some places, i.e., Broadway Station in Crystal on the corner of West Broadway and Bass Lake Road.

    I’m remembering Robbinsdale as being the 2nd, and the old Crystal location being the 3rd?

  5. Jennifer SnyderReply
    December 14, 2021 at 12:33 pm

    I remember Spallacci’s on Hennepin when I was little– My dad knew John and took us there for pizza when I was maybe 5 or 6! 1959? would love to have a list of all the different business that have come and gone on that corner, since!! Thank you so much!!! Sincerely, Jennifer Snyder

  6. sonny petersonReply
    December 28, 2021 at 8:26 am

    I grew up in north mpls and remember my parents taking us to Broadway pizza on Broadway and 3rd St in north mpls. I was three years old at the time and we would go to Broadway pizza every Friday to this day I still eat Broadway pizza. and will continue to do so. so for 65 years i have enjoyed their pizza.

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