The original Pizza Shack was founded in 1985 on John and Claudia Simmons’ “crazy” idea of opening a pizza place with nothing more than a KitchenAid mixer, their son Michael Simmons said.
Michael–who was 5 years old at the time–is now part-owner of the local chain, overseeing the original Willis location and the soon-to-be relocated Montgomery restaurant.
Pizza Shack serves Italian-American cuisine made from scratch, featuring items such as hand-tossed pizzas, hearty pastas, sandwiches and burgers. Pizza Shack’s high-quality, fresh ingredients and customer service has kept the business thriving for over two decades, Michael said.
“Pizza Shack was like a home to me,” he said. “It did not feel any different for me [than my house], because everyone who worked there were like family.”
John and Claudia curated this family-operated mentality early by enlisting the help of Claudia’s siblings Dave, Darren and Glenn Kiely to launch the restaurant. The family made sure to carry the close-knit ethos to its employees and customers as well.
In late 2017, the Montgomery Pizza Shack will close the doors at its location near downtown to relocate to 19132 Stewart Creek Road, Montgomery, off Hwy. 105. Michael’s wife, Laura, also works at the restaurant, and she said the new location will be modernized but reminiscent of the original restaurant’s atmosphere.
When construction is complete, the 13,000-square-foot facility will offer more seating, an outdoor patio and a larger banquet room with audio and video capabilities, Michael said. A full-service bar will have 12 beers on tap, including beverages from local breweries, such as Southern Star Brewery, B-52 Brewing and Copperhead Brewery.
Years from now, Michael said he wants to grow into a franchise, with each location maintaining the ambience and flavor that made the original restaurant successful.
“I am much like my father—I like to dream big and go big,” he said.
The restaurant was one of many local businesses that provided assistance during Hurricane Harvey. Michael and Laura said they felt it was their duty as restaurant owners to donate pizza to local first responders and cater meals for shelters and churches housing flood evacuees.
“I don’t know of any restaurant or business around here that didn’t help in one way or another,” Laura said. “We were just lucky that we had the food, groceries and ability to serve people.”
20873 Eva St., Montgomery
Hours: Mon.-Thu. 11 a.m.-9 p.m., Fri.-Sat. 11 a.m.-10 p.m. and Sun. 11 a.m.-8 p.m.