Shakey’s Pizza Parlor was a hot destination in the 1970s with up to 500 restaurants across the the United States. The Dallas area had seven of the pizza parlors at the time.
Despite local popularity, all seven closed by 1989. Nationally, Shakey’s numbers dwindled to 61 locations by 2003, according to trade publication Pizza Marketplace.
The Dallas Morning News investigated the background of Shakey’s 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 local Dallas Shakey’s.
Stasio was a friendly man with a big heart, the type of person who gave to the community, knew his customers’ family histories and served underprivileged children their first taste of pizza, his son Andrew told the newspaper.
The family-friendly restaurant provided an imitation of an English ye old public house, brick-oven pizza baked the Italian way and 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 alone 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 location placed in the top four of 400 nationally 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 over $2.5 million annually, and the Texas Restaurant Association named Stasio the Outstanding Restaurateur of Texas of 1974, the newspaper reports.
In 1980, Stasio decided to sell his franchises and switch over to Church’s Chicken. His reasons for leaving included a lack of support from the 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.