JEFFERSONVILLE — Fans of Pizza King — and they are legion and loyal — are rejoicing as the Jeffersonville location has moved across the street to a bigger, better spot.
No longer tucked away in a dated hole-in-the-wall spot on Kehoe Lane, the iconic pizza spot reopened late last year in the former Captain D’s just across Tenth Street.
“It was something that I wanted to do for a long time,” said Andy Schutz, who owns the store along with his brother Timothy and father Steven. “We knew with the business we did there, that it would translate.”
The four huge pizza ovens made the move largely unscathed.
“We had to have one of them worked on, so we were operating with three ovens for a bit,” Schutz said. “But they’re all going now.”
Schutz said the ovens are key in the Pizza King taste.
“It’s the oven and the dough that make it different,” he said. “No one else around here does it like us.”
The old store is clearly visible from the new spot.
“We had a lot of people ask us why we didn’t move down where the new bridge will be,” Schutz said. “I didn’t think we’d do any better there.”
He appears to have been right, as their business has more than doubled since the move.
“The old place was so dark and dated — we didn’t have hardly anybody eat in,” said longtime employee Ange Colwell. “Our dine-in has been tremendous since we moved.”
In the old spot, a handful of booths were available for diners. Now, there is seating for 52 in the bright, open dining area.
“It’s made such a difference,” Colwell said. “It’s so light. People want to come in here and sit.”
“Our carry out and delivery business has picked up as well,” Schutz said. “We’re more visible. People drive by and see it.”
The Schutz trio also owns the Pizza King along Charlestown Road in New Albany. Jeffersonville has the same menu as New Albany, but no servers. Orders are placed at the counter and guests get their own drinks from the new soda fountain in the dining room.
“Both stores have the same menu now,” Schutz said. “But we still only do delivery out of Jeffersonville. We deliver everything on the menu.
“I think people are going to be really excited when they realize they can have pasta and sandwiches delivered, too.”
Pizza King was founded in Lafayette in 1956, with Steven Schutz’s father, Donald Schutz, taking the fledgling company over soon after.
“There are two Pizza Kings in Indiana,” Andy Schutz said. “The other one is out of Muncie and they aren’t related at all.”
Not technically a franchise, the two Southern Indiana stores are loosely affiliated with the Lafayette home store and the others scattered across the state and owned by Steven’s brother. They purchase many of their proprietary ingredients from the Lafayette commissary.
Steve Schutz started with Pizza King in Lafayette working with his father. He moved to Southern Indiana at his dad’s request to take over the Clarksville store. Not long after, he purchased the Jeffersonville store as well.
Pizza King has been a Jeffersonville staple since at least the early 1960s.
“We’re not sure when that one opened,” Schutz said. “Dad took it over in the early 1970s and it had been there quite a while already.”
“Pizza King is like Jerry’s [Restaurant],” Colwell said. “When they took Jerry’s out, they took something from Jeff. We just improved it.”