Piece O’ Pizza

Piece O’ Pizza was the brand name of a string of eateries that once decorated the Southern California landscape…an amazing reach considering the awfulness of their signature product. Do you like pizza where the crust tastes like matzo, the toppings have the thickness of carbon paper and you can’t decide whether to eat the pizza or the box it came in? If you do, you’d have loved Piece O’ Pizza pizza. Just awful. What kept them in business, it seemed to me, was their great, racy slogan (“Had a piece lately?”) and the fact that there then weren’t a lot of other places where one could grab a fast pizza to take home.

Also, they served a decent meatball sandwich and a more-than-decent (and very cheap) spaghetti plate. Many of the Piece O’ Pizza stands were in “Skid Row” style areas, and I bet that spaghetti plate kept a lot of homeless people alive.

Like I said, they were all over L.A. There was one on Pico just east of Sepulveda, one at Beverly and Fairfax, another on La Brea just south of Hollywood, another on La Cienega near Airdrome, another on Western just south of Hollywood…and (I’m guessing) at least 200 more. As far as I know, there’s only one remaining. It’s down on Venice Boulevard about a half-mile west of Sepulveda. A year or two ago, I was in the neighborhood and in need of rapid lunch, so I decided to go in and have the spaghetti plate, just to see if it was still the same. Since there is no parent company now to supply the preparations, I was expecting totally different cuisine…but the meat sauce was more or less what I recalled, or at least it seemed to have evolved from the same recipe.

I probably won’t go back since I now have better places to eat. I suspect that’s what killed off the Piece O’ Pizza chain in or around the late eighties. As Numero Uno and Pizza Hut and even Domino’s spread, everyone had a better place to get a quick pizza or to have one brought piping-hot to their door. Speculating further, I’d guess that too many of their stands were located in depressed areas, which made it difficult for them to upgrade their product. It would have been awkward to simultaneously improve their menu (thereby making most items more expensive), advertise that they’d done this…but still service the crowd that just wanted the cheapest-possible plate of pasta.

I don’t exactly miss the places since they weren’t that good. On the other hand, I’ve been to fancy Italian restaurants where I enjoyed a $20 entree a lot less than I liked the Piece O’ Pizza spaghetti plate. Even in the early eighties, it didn’t cost much over two dollars…and that included garlic bread.

34 Responses to Piece O’ Pizza

  • Craig Printup says:

    I used to frequent the Venice location in the picture back in the 1970′s. I thought their pizza was pretty good, and the crust was a lot thicker than matzo back then. I much preferred Bruno’s further west on Venice Blvd. though.

  • Yvette says:

    My Grand Father lived just around the corner in Hollywood. I remember liking mushrooms for the first time when eating their pizza. I was pretty young, so I didn’t know what their slogan meant. hahaha Anyway. I think about their pizza when ever I have mushrooms to this day. :) But Matzah? I think not. hahaha I remember liking their cheese too. Carolina West was near by. Loved their hot fudge sundae’s. Now I want pizza and dessert. (:

  • Kathie says:

    When we first came to California in 1954 my mom sent a picture of that “racy” sign back to relatives in Ohio. At the ripe old age of 4 I didn’t have any idea what was so funny.

  • Stan says:

    My Buddies in the Airforce used to laugh our buts off when ever we saw the slogan “Had a Piece Lately” on TV LOL… that was our slang for having sex

  • L.N. Smithee says:

    What is described as the business plan for Piece O’ Pizza sounds like what the once-proud Little Caesars chain is now: Pre-prepared pizza for people with the munchies and want to pick one up right fast like and scarf it.

  • Marc says:

    My father has lunch regularly with one of the original owners of Piece O’ Pizza. I was practically weaned on POP, Tommy’s, Pink’s and Tito’s.

  • Irving says:

    Hi I used to stop at Venice and maclaughin for my slice , it’s so good I don’t know how long this place been there but seems like long time ago well the food is original , the employes are so friendly ..

  • Don West says:

    I used to frequent the Piece O’Pizza on Western Ave in Hollywood. If therre when Ray Parks was the chef, you got a KILLER pizza, never had a complaint. Back in those days, the “Tuesday Night Special” was $1.85 for any large pizza. We’d have Ray add extra cheese for 50 cents. Any other cook and we’d not go in. I still have pictures of Ray at work, and the marvelous creations he concocted. I heard Ray passed away many years ago, a shame, he was a very interesting, intelligent character, and always an interesting conversationalist. One night when back in the L.A. area after moving much farther north, my friend and I were treated to a freebie. When we went to pay, he just looked at us and said, “get out!” That was Ray :)

  • Mike G says:

    I worked for POP for 6 years, putting myself thru high school and college. The food was quite good and used fresh ingredients. They had specials several nights a week that were real bargains. We frequently had celebrity clients who were great fans. The writer should realize that many of the “skid row” areas were once middle class neighborhoods when POP started in 1the 1940′s. The pizzas were made by hand (and we all knew how to throw them in the air), dough was made fresh daily, as were the sauces, and the cheese was pure mozzarella. There were about 20 stores that went out of business once the founder’s son took over and began tinkering with recipes and profits.

  • Lola says:

    When you didn’t have much money on you and you were hungry, a slice from Piece O’Pizza tasted pretty good, OK? (was it 25 cents?) – and you could afford to buy it.

    How many people remember the Goody Goody Drive In on Wilshire at Berkeley in Santa Monica, a few blocks west of the WLA “Piece O’ Pizza”
    Car hops male and female wore brown slacks, tops and hats and were on skates I think… and the #1 burger had incredible sauce.

  • Geri says:

    I’m 56 yrs young, and lived in North Hollywood until I was 6 years old. I have vivid memories of POP. I was astonished by the talented pizza thrower in the window, and could ‘t wait to get inside where there were red and white gingham tablecloths, grapes and leaves on lattice on the walls and ceilings, a plastic basket filled with yummy bread, great salad, and spaghetti with meatballs and a pie. Our family of four ate for $3.98-that included a large bottle of Coke. Really, my parents were not wealthy by any means, and this was our one night out a week. Mom said it was a Thursday night. At 85 years old, Mom said it was Thursday nights that she felt wealthy to take her family out for dinner at a time when a fun thing to do was paste S&H Green Stamps into books for savings.

    Thank you POP.

  • Mike Rubin says:

    @Mike G. I worked at Piece o’ Pizza locations, too, mostly at the one on Pico at Orange or Sycamore, near La Brea. Also did some time at the one on Pico near Sepulveda and the much inferior one at La Cienega near Cattaraugus (I think). Before I started work at the Pico near LaBrea location, my family ate there on Family Night many weeks in a row.

    I learned a bit about the restaurant biz there, including how scalding dishwasher and spaghetti liquid could melt human skin. The food at both the Pico locations always was fresh, but the location on La Cienega had an expanded menu with a lot of frozen, then fried, fast food items.

    My unfondest memory of my time at PoP was an occasion when I went in to pick up my check and took my (first ever) girlfriend with me. Even though my girl was all of 16, my manager thought up every conceivable stall tactic and errand in the kitchen with which to burden me while he shamelessly hit on my gal; I wanted to kill him. Otherwise, I worked with some great people, ate decent food for very little money (and got paid little money), and always had a job waiting for me when I returned from college on breaks.

  • Christopher says:

    In a tiny corner mall at Santa Monica Blvd. (and Orlando I think) in West Hollywood, there was one of their stores next to a dry cleaners. During the late sixties and into the seventies, the large sign that faced S.M. Blvd, said “Drop your pants here and have a piece next door.” It was there for ages until the pizza place closed–it is now a foh soup place–but the dry cleaners remain.

  • Sheldon Helfing says:

    Piece o’ Pizza was actually very good pizza. I went to many of their locations and was the perfect place to go to after a rock concert (especially at the Santa Monica Blvd. near Sweetzer location. I would then drive up with my buddy Phil to the Orange Julius at Santa Monica and San Vicente (next to a car wash) to finish off the meal with an OJ (not orange juice). I loved those. Their signage was just as memorable to me as Piece o’ Pizza (the devil with his hands in an interesting place). There was nothing better than that combination (Piece o’ Pizza and an Orange Julius) after seeing The Kinks. They were always open very late at night, which was great. Once, my friend Phil and I came from a social event where he was kissing this girl for over an hour. What else did you do back then? We then went to a Piece o’ Pizza on La Cienega and Airdrome where he ordered this giant meat ball sandwich. Unfortunately, he couldn’t eat it. His jaw was stuck from all that kissing. It was like he had lock jaw. Needless to say, I was laughing my head off.

  • David Dee says:

    When I was in college I remember driving one night with my Mom, who was visiting from out of town, past the POP on La Brea. Standing under the bright neon sign that said “had a piece lately” was a hooker. My Mom commented ” I think that’s appropriate advertising”. I laughed my ass off.

  • Laura DeMarco says:

    We ate Every Friday at the one on Sepulveda and 10th street in Manhattan Beach…many memories!!

  • Joel Grossman says:

    My POP of choice was the one on La Cienega and 18th St. I loved their pizza. I would buy a slice on my way home from Louis Pasteur Jr. High. I remember a slice of pizza was .25 cents and .01 tax. I will tell you something else- My absolute favorite thing on their menu was the submarine sandwich. They were the best. To this day I have never had a sub sandwich as good as the ones I got at POP on La Cienega and 18th St.!

  • Shel Willens says:

    I grew up on this pizza and still think it was the best sauced pie in town. Only one better was Joe Labarbera in WLA. Tuesday night was any pizza on the menu for the price of a plain one between 9 & 11. It was one place you could always get a piece.

  • Mitch Levine says:

    Our family would generally eat at Norms on La Cienega or POP on Beverly Blvd and Orange Grove. The pizza was pretty decent but back then Pizza was in it’s infancy so it was hard to compare to other eateries. We enjoyed the view of CBS and sometimes wished we were having a taco at Taco Tah next door.

  • Mike says:

    I ate at the one on La Cienega & 18th St quite a few times, and also the one on Beverly Blvd, just east of Fairfax. Their pizza wasn’t too bad, especially for the price!

  • Sherry aitken says:

    The sauce was excellent and certainly better than most of today’s crop. They were a little thin compared to La Barbra’s the best ever or Bruno’s. Pizza Pete’s down on the fun zone in Newport Beach had a very similar sauce for years until it was sold and now is crap

  • Sherry aitken says:

    I wish I could find that old sauce in the Newport area.

  • Keith says:

    This thread is cool !! …I was talking to my sons, about my first job in LA, in 1974 (I am originally from the UK) and he directed me to this website !!
    One of my first jobs, was working at the Piece O’Pizza on Santa Monica Blvd in West Hollywood !!..back in my “Hippie” days !!some wild times back then !! with the Whiskey close by, when I got off work early, I used to work with Hector, Hussien and Scott, for the late shift, we were supposed to stay open until 3 am, but being “high” and with a bad case of the “munchies”,we used toclose up around 2 am, leaving just the outside order window open, and Hussien would cook up these fabulous Steak Sandwiches !!…oooh man !!…with the free soda & food, that’s was one of the only perks working there !!…I remember one night Linda Lovelace stopped by and ordered a “Meatball Sandwich” which really cracked us both up, and Gene Hackman stopped by early am and ordered a slice of pizza… also remember a bum that always used to hang around the place, he usually stank pretty bad, and we would give him pizza or something, and then ask him to leave, sometimes he would come in all cleaned up, from someones kindness, but then in a few weeks he would be f*cked up again….Then I moved up in the world (j/k) and started working at Luigis Pizza on Figuroa in Highland Park…wonder if that made the “old resturants list”..better check !!

  • Gary Wallace says:

    I worked at Al’s Piece O’ Pizza on Reseda Blvd in Reseda back in 1969. It was a fun job. It was my first real job after getting out of the Marine Corps. Had some interesting experiences there. We got tired of eating Italian every night so we sometimes traded pizza pies for dessert pies from the House of Pies shop across the street. Once we traded a large pizza for a bag of pot. I remember “hot dogging” with pizza dough tossing whenever pretty girls were watching. There was more than a couple “fails’ then. Ha! I prevented a robbery from happening one night. All in all it was a fairly decent place to take the family for dinner. I drove buy the location many years ago and was saddened to see that Al’s Piece O Pizza had been replaced by a porn shop.

  • Michael Wolf says:

    In 1952 our family moved into a house near Panorama City, and our neighbors, Al and Naomi Koss had just gone into partnership with Al’s (of Al’s Piece O’Pizza in Reseda) brother Marty to open what would become the Piece O’Pizza Company. In the early ’50′s you could buy the family meal, A Large Cheese Pizza, a huge Mixed Italian Salad, an even huger bowl of Spaghetti and Meatballs, and get a really fair serving of garlic bread, enough to serve a family of 4 for under $ 10.00. Al lived in the valley, so he developed the Laurel Canyon shop, while Marty who lived off of Robertson in Beverlywood, opened the La Cienega locations, but it was a family business, run with integrity, by people who cared about their product enough that it gave Al a home on Beverly Dr in Beverly Hills, plus a holiday home on Coronado Island. I’m sure Marty did as well, if not better. These were great people who stayed close to my family all through their lives. It’s a shame that times have changed, costs have risen so high, that families can’t run these business’s anymore. Our family had a chain of grocery stores, they were extremely high quality, but costs exceeded income, and mega-conglomerates bought the chain. The stores are there, the names are changes, and they now belong to a larger chain that is based in the East.

  • Andrea says:

    Chewing. On a mushroom pizza and for a moment it reminded me of Piece O Pizza in Manhattan Beach.Frank used to manage and toss pizza dough. And as a child our whole family would eat there for cheap but it was so good! Years later i brought our babies right from the hospital! Fun tradition. Matter o fact the Kreir family our neibors on Gates all seemed to work there at one time or another in some capacity..mom Louise was our waitress many a time. So sad this place is gone.

  • Andrea says:

    And,…it was beautiful inside.6 tables tops. Pretty little hand blown glass lamps above each table,checkered clothes and the grapes like someone else said. Very, very quaint. :-)

  • Tony Colvin says:

    It was that meatball sandwich that was fantastic. The one on 18th & La Cienega made the best meatball sandwich I have ever had to date. The last one on Venice in Mar Vista still makes a good one.

  • Mark Kraus says:

    To Sheldon Helfing: this is Mark Kraus a contributior to this blog and fellow JB Jr High band member 50 years ago. Say hi if you see this OK?

  • Ron says:

    Growing up in the late 50s and early 60s my brother sister and I were taken out to dinner once a week and our parents asked up where we wanted to go and the answer was ALWAYS Piece O Pizza. We lived in Mar Vista until 1962 and we went to the one on Pico near Sepulveda and after 1962 we moved to the Fairfax district and went to the one on Beverly near Fairfax. While I loved the Pizza and spaghetti it was the Italian Salad Dressing that kept bringing me back as a young adult. I miss it.

  • Jeff Schneider says:

    I grew up eating at the Laurel Canyon POP store beginning in 1953. Here are the corrected facts: Family dinner for four… a large salad with that wonderful dressing, a large helping of spaghetti and meat balls (I was the only one who liked meatballs, I got all 4!), a large plain pizza, cokes and all the Italian bread and butter you could eat. Price was not “under $10″ it was $3.98. But wait, TUESDAY was family night, the same meal was $2.98! Our entire neighborhood would get in line by 5 pm and wait for our dads. There were only about 8 tables. Like ‘Cheers’, everyone knew each other. We moved in 1963 and went to the Reseda store, that’s when they raised the price by $1 and drinks were extra. Still way below $10. Maybe the food wasn’t great, but the memories are.

  • Jeff Schneider says:

    And one other thing…the cooks let me help make the pizza. Would never happen today.

  • Sheila says:

    We “loved” the italian dressing, and would purchase their bottled dressing all the time. We still say, it was the best.

  • Kathryn ashe says:

    Used to be taken to the pico location when growing up in the 50′s in west LA. Pizza dough was hand tossed behind the window facing the street. In the early 50′s a $10 dinner for 4 included a large salad, large bowl of pasta and a large cheese pizza.

    Having lived in Italy, I can say, piece of pizza was pretty darn good. The only other place in Los Angeles to get decent pizza in those days was Patsy d’mores in Hollywood or at the farmer’s market off fairfax.

    Have to agree with Sheila, I too loved the house dressing.

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