Very few people ever touch the laminated menus. They order what they always ordered, what their parents ordered, what their grandparents did. Because like almost everything else at Panjo, the menu hasn’t really changed for almost 60 years: pizza, burgers and sandwiches, a few salads, beer and soda on tap, sweet tea that morning. Each pizza is made to order. The sauce is thick and the staff is amazingly liberal with toppings. Panjo’s makes a deep dish pie, but what has kept customers loyal for generations are the pizzas with the thin crust. Crunchy, buttery, perfect. It’s all in the ovens. It’s the original Bakers Pride models that were in the restaurant when it opened – heavy ceramic slate and gas powered. The crust, dusted with cornmeal, has an added crispness, a texture that customers will never forget and cannot find anywhere else.
It’s all in the ovens.
So you come back You remember your nervous first dates and noisy graduations, remembering friends and family, bringing a glass to Bubba and others you lost since their last visit. They talk about your work and health, your successes and struggles, the myriad of ways the world outside of this old restaurant seems less and less recognizable. But in Panjos things seem familiar, safe, and good. The salon brown benches, the gum machine, and the family behind the counter are all as you will remember. So when you call your number – over a fuzzy speaker that was played years ago – you can believe that this will save you time, if only for a moment.
Bret Anthony Johnston is the director of the Michener Center for Writers and the author of the international bestseller Remember Me Like This.