After more than 50 years of operation at its original location, Pizza Bob’s will find a new home this Tuesday just 110 feet north at 800 S. State Street. The new location, previously home to Red Light Cafe, will offer both indoor and outdoor seating.
According to owner Pam Pietryga, the move was largely motivated by a desire for more space. The seating in the original location was limited to a front counter and a single round table, whereas the new location offers space for both indoor and outdoor dining while maintaining appropriate social distancing. Pietryga plans to use the basement of the restaurant to host larger parties when COVID-19 restrictions no longer apply.
The space also makes it possible for one of the restaurant’s most well-known items, the Chipati sauce, to be prepared in-house. The owners had previously rented a kitchen in Ypsilanti to make the sauce.
Pietryga said another perk of the new building is its public bathroom, which the previous space lacked. She also hopes the placement at the stoplight on the corner will increase visibility and foot traffic.
Kailana Dejoie, LSA sophomore and Pizza Bob’s employee, is hopeful that the new location will improve business.
“I think it’s going to be a great development for Pizza Bob’s and I think it’s a good location in terms of the community too,” Dejoie said. “I know a lot of people were sad that we switched locations because that’s been there for 50 plus years, but I think for the business it’s a good move.”
Pietryga said she plans to retain as many aspects of the original restaurant as possible in the new space, including its posters, frames, handmade signs and the plexiglass wall filled with postcards sent to Bob Marsh, the original cook and the restaurant’s namesake. The restaurant will also be painted in the original maize and blue color scheme, with plans to recreate the past location’s Pizza Bob’s mural.
“All the different things people come to notice and point out about Pizza Bob’s … we’re not forgetting any of that,” Pietryga said. “We’re taking as much with us, and trying to find a good way of displaying it, so that we always have that memory and history and stuff that people like to see.”
Pietryga said while it’s hard to say goodbye, the benefits of the larger space outweigh the losses.
“I think the customers are gonna like it much better because … with all the renovations done, we’re going to be able to seat more than we ever could, and then when all this passes and we’re all back into our normal life, we’ll definitely be able to enjoy the customer interaction,” Pietryga said. “We’ve missed that now, the past four months. One of the things we love about Pizza Bob’s is the camaraderie with the customers.”
Pietryga said Pizza Bob’s has been able to stay open during the pandemic due to the support of loyal Ann Arbor customers. According to Andy Lansing, a University of Michigan alum and Pizza Bob’s customer, it is this companionship that sets Pizza Bob’s apart.
“What makes it special is just that it is today what it’s always been,” Lansing said. “In a world of chain restaurants and a world of sort of similar concepts, similar styles of restaurants, I think Pizza Bob’s is a mountain of its own… I think that the environment and just their style of service is really special and there’s something about it that’s really magical — and of course, the sauce.”
Lansing, who has been coming to Pizza Bob’s since he was a student and is now the father of a University student, said he is not worried that this magic will be lost with the location change.
“You always pause and think, ‘Oh my gosh, is anything gonna change?’” Lansing said. “But knowing (the staff), there’s no chance that they’re gonna let anything change. It’s just gonna be better than ever.”
Daily Staff Reporter Angelina Little can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.