Shakey’s Pizza Parlor was a hot destination in the 1970s with up to 500 restaurants across the United States.
The Dallas area had seven of the pizza parlors, but despite local popularity, all seven closed by 1989. Nationally, Shakey’s numbers dwindled to 61 locations by 2003, according to the trade publication Pizza Marketplace.
The Dallas Morning News investigated Shakey’s background and why the popular chain went out of business.
One of the most popular Dallas locations opened in 1964 at 6516 Northwest Highway. Andy Stasio, restaurateur and franchisee, ran the neighborhood Shakey’s. Stasio was the type of person who gave to the community, knew his customers and served underprivileged children their first taste of pizza, his son Andrew told the newspaper.
The family friendly restaurant was an imitation of an old English public house and provided brick-oven pizza baked the Italian way and served alongside live banjo music. Stasio was the first in the Shakey’s franchise to offer entertainment six times a week, rather than just once, the newspaper reported in 1965.
Shakey’s was particularly popular with children because of its game room and birthday festivities. More than 50,000 kids in the Dallas-Fort Worth area signed up for Shakey’s birthday club.
“People would come from all over,” Andrew Stasio told the newspaper. “Everybody from Highland Park to Richardson. … East Dallas, Lake Highlands. There was a standing line most Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.”
The Northwest Highway eatery placed in the top four of all the chain’s locations every year for seven years. Four years later, Stasio was selling more pizza at his seven Shakey’s stores than anybody else in the country. He was grossing more than $2.5 million annually, and the Texas Restaurant Association named him the Outstanding Restaurateur of Texas in 1974, the newspaper reported.
In 1980, Stasio decided to sell his franchises and switch to Church’s Chicken. His reasons for leaving included a lack of support from Shakey’s parent company and a tired business model.
“It was the company’s refusal to update Shakey’s and consequent weakness against competition that closed every single Dallas-Fort Worth location by 1989,” Andrew Stasio told the newspaper.