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Remembering the Dining Fad of 'Pizza and Pipes'

In restaurants in Arizona, Illinois, and Wisconsin, the 1970s and ’80s craze for “pizza and pipes” lives on.
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Madison McVeigh/CityLab

By 5 p.m., in a commercial section of Mesa, Arizona, the line to order pizza stretches past the arcade, out the door, and onto the sidewalk. But the main attraction isn’t the pepperoni pie: It’s a giant pipe organ, played by a professional, with an accompanying light show during your meal.

Believe it or not, this used to be a fairly common dining experience, offered by more than 100 such establishments in the United States in the 1970s and 1980s. It was Ye Olde Pizza Joynt in Hayward, California, that pioneered the “pizza-and-pipes” restaurant in the 1960s. (If this sounds a bit like Chuck E. Cheese’s, you’re not wrong: Nolan Bushnell, the founder of Chuck E. Cheese’s, told The Atlantic in 2013 that his inspiration for every parent’s nightmare was a pizza-and-pipes restaurant.)