Sammy’s Lovers Stories

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Although now I"m a 77 year old geezer, I have fond memories of working at the first Sammy’s in Eau Claire at 102 N. Barstow (by the river) during the 1957-58 school year while in pre-engineering at the college. Manager Sam Cifaldi, Don Jordon, & Gary DeBussman were the mainstays, but I worked three nights per week, including the full house Friday and Saturday nights as the Sammy’s Pizza craze swept Eau Claire. Great times being a part of the new “fun center” in Eau Claire, showing off in the big window facing Main Street. Plus each worker got a free pizza on break. I became a pizza lover, but have never found any that can match Sammy’s!

Dear Sam and Family, I wanted to let you know how much we have appreciated your wonderful pizza for so many years. So many memories of family and school traditions. Sammy was always a part of it. A few years ago we celebrated our 50 year reunion from Cathedral High School. We made a unanimous decision that Sammy’s was our first choice for our first night of the reunion. It was a great time. Thank you for the great family tradition that so many of us continue to share with you . . . Bless you all!

When I was a little girl, we did not often get to go anywhere, and especially go out to eat. Dad would take us to Sammy’s Pizza in Winona on those occasions when we could go. He would sometimes surprise us by bringing a pizza home on a Friday night. When I had children, he would take the girls to Sammy’s, and they would LOVE going there! Now, I have grandchildren and take them to Sammy’s. It is our special time, and they absolutely love the pizza.

My ex-husband (then boyfriend) and I were among the first customers at the Eau Claire store at 113 No. Barstow Street in 1957. We couldn’t wait to try this new creation, and it took only one visit to be hooked. We frequented Sammy’s a couple of times a week (sometimes more often). Sam Cifaldi was the first manager, and one of the cooks/bakers was Gary DeBussman, who was a friend of ours. Once the word got around about how delicious this new thing called pizza was, the restaurant was always packed! Before long, they moved to the second location on So. Barstow near the Hollywood Theater, and it became a favorite for all those who worked in Downtown Eau Claire. Thirty years later, I was still lunching there when I owned my business in Barstow Court. I can’t begin to tell you all the good times at Sammy’s. But Sammy’s was the place to be from the very beginning… and still is, although I miss the downtown locations!

Hi all, I am from New England, Boston proper and AF vet from 87-2002. In 87 I was assigned to Minot (Why not!) and ate at Sammy’s all the time. I am the youngest of 13, yes 13, (Irish Catholic!) my bro Kevin was at Minot in 59-61. I knew he was in AF though not where. I’m on leave in 80 something and Kev says Minot, Huh? I joke to Kevin about this guy riding a bicycle with a basket advertising his Pizza, he says ”Bert” I say yes! I flew back from leave and took my buds to the place we LOVED eating at….I ask waitress if the bicycle guy was there and she said yes. I asked for him to come out…Sir I’m Terry Connell, do you know a Kevin? Yes! He elaborated on a few stories and said, ”History repeats your his son now serving?” I replied, No, I am his youngest brother! We got free pizza that night and I transferred to GER shortly after.

My brother Kev, passed this spring but everytime we spoke he always remembered Bert Shemento, whom I do not know was ever even in the AF, but Kevin was a hunter, fisher and friend of Berts and loved Minot as I did. I ate for what, 3 yrs without knowing who Bert or Sammy’s was and it is 50 years later for Kev (RIP) or 25 for me… God Bless America, TSgt. Terry Connell-Doherty, USAF, 1987-2002

1963. I was stationed at the Duluth Air Base, Duluth MN. My then girlfriend, and future bride, told me about Sammy’s. We tried it and I loved it. [She passed away in 2012] 2014. My friend and I went to the Bayfront Blues Festival in Duluth. We had Sammy’s as a special treat. To my amazement it’s still the EXACT SAME pizza it was all those years ago. WONDERFUL! There is a Sammy’s in Coon Rapids, MN and we go there on occasion. If you’ve never tried it you are truly missing out on the best pizza, ANYWHERE!

My mom would always tell me growing up how Sammy’s had the best pizza she’d ever tasted (followed up with the usual, uphill walk in the snow 5 miles each way to school and back, typical Minnesota story). Now that I’m 32 years old and my step-dad flies back and forth to Duluth on occasion, we always make him bring us back Sammy’s Pizza :) And you guys will be happy to know, your pizza keeps EXTREMELY well!!! We ate like kings happily for days! :)

Sammy’s pizza in lakeside was where all the hot guys worked with those big ole windows on that pie shaped store front. I remember walking through that screen door on summer nights the phone was ringing nonstop and the ovens were full capacity. My all time favorite is the mushroom sausage pie. It came on a cardboard circle with white paper sleeve and that famous Sammy logo. It was heaven in a bag. To this day no other pizza compares. Duluth is not my home anymore but Sammy's you still make my mouth water. Keep those ovens firing.

When I was in junior high school Sammy’s in downtown Duluth opened. I was there that day! A large group of us spent many Friday nights there. We would order a large, pepperoni pizza, put our nickels together and enjoy the best pizza ever!! I moved to California the summer after 9th grade. I have lived here for 56 years and have not found any pizza that can compare to Sammy’s. I made many trips back to Duluth until 1991 when I bought a second home there. I now return at least a couple of times a year for as long as four weeks at a time, and one of the first things on my agenda is to eat a Sammy’s pizza. I have a daughter and two teenage granddaughters and they have spent many summers with me in Duluth. They agree that there is no better pizza and we have tried many. We all crave it when we are not there. We are planning to order frozen pizza’s for my soon to be 14 year old’s birthday and my 71st. We can hardly wait. Thank you Sammy’s for the best pizza anywhere!!!

Last year I moved to Florida and have found out after a year of trying different pizza’s that these folks don’t really know how to make them…..I grew up on Sammy’s Pizza and boy I am here to tell you that Sammy’s is the best pizza in America. Please expand to the south (specifically Largo FL) I crave good solid quality pizza. They need someone to show them how its done here………Miss you guys…….

When I was a young kid with 2 brothers, once a week, my dad would bring home a large Sammy’s Pizza. He would put it on the table and, in the air, draw a big cross above the pizza. I always thought he was blessing our food before we ate. It was years later that I realized he was drawing the ”boundaries” of which part of the pizza was for each of us. This allowed him to get his quarter without the kids eating too fast and getting his portion! God Bless Sammy’s Pizza!

While stationed at Duluth Air Force Base in 1963 my roommate and I enjoyed Sammy’s Pizza a least once a week. Recently we attended the Bayfront Blues Festival in Duluth and I told my girlfriend about Sammy’s. When I ordered I asked if their pizza was still as good as those 60 years ago. I had it delivered to our hotel room and WHOA, It was exactly as it was all those years ago. So very WONDERFUL. I’m 69 and it’s STILL the best pizza I’ve EVER had. I hope the one in Coon Rapids, MN is just as incredible.

I was a transplant from Vermont and met Sammy, Jr. in 1954 when I moved to Duluth. I chummed around with him off and on for a few years. Even though we were approximately the same age, Sam was like a big brother to me. He was one of the most gracious, easy-going and generous person I ever met. He also made the best pizzas in the world and they are still the best. My favorite was the Dominic Special at the elbow room. I think Dominic was Sammy’s cousin.

Alright kids, hang on to your seat, this is a long one. Just Kidding, I'll make this short and sweet. I ordered a pizza for delivery, when the driver came to my door he informed me my card was declined. Having a mini stroke, I invited him in to resolve the issue (ladies, you know we all know our checkbook like the back of our hand). Come to find out the card number they confirmed several times, was in fact … fine and all was well. After some other minor complications, not involving my overly wonderful pizza, I got in contact with the owner. Not only was the issue resolved, but he came to my house (with permission, of course) with an explanation and an apology. Not once did he make the slightest excuse, he took full ownership of mistakes. To be realistic, we all make mistakes, life happens but let me ask you this. WOULD A CHAIN DO THAT FOR YOU? NO, they simply wouldn’t, nor would any other restaurant. I am a life-long customer and I had to share. What a phenomenal man (and OMG that pizza) :)

I was taken to Sammy’s Pizza as a child. My mom went to college in Duluth and was introduced to Sammy’s Pizza. When my brother and I were children, my parents took us to Duluth to have Sammy’s Pizza. Now that I am an adult with 2 children of my own, I have kept the tradition going for my children. I drive to Waite Park with my children so we can have Sammy’s Pizza. My children have also grown up with Sammy’s Pizza. There is no other pizza on earth besides Sammy’s Pizza.

When my closest friend and I were in high school (around 1955, 1956) we would take my brother’s car (we lived in Proctor) and would drive to the West Duluth Sammy’s on Central Ave. We always ordered 1/2 sausage and 1/2 pepperoni, and a couple cokes – I’m pretty sure the price of the pizza we ordered was $1.25, which we of course split between the two of us. We have lots of good memories of that place, the whole town of Proctor frequented it, being the first pizza place around.

It’s a short story. Sammy’s and I grew up together. It was always a place to stop when we came to Duluth from Ironwood to shop, or for medical reasons or whatever. Sammy’s turns 60 this year and so did I! I’m planning to bring my grandson and his stepbrother to Sammy’s this summer to celebrate!

I wanted to let you know how much my family appreciates the kind act from one of your delivery drivers – we believe his last name is Dukowitz.
On Sunday afternoon, my 86-year old mother was outside tending to her garden. Unfortunately, her knees gave out on her, and she was not able to get back up on her own. This young driver noticed her on his way back from a delivery and stopped and asked if she needed help. Had he not stopped and helped her up she would have struggled on her own for some time.
My mother has dropped a note in the mail (via Sammy’s Pizza) in hopes that this young man will receive it. She is VERY thankful for his kindness!!! I am too! Thanks for employing a very considerate young man!

Me and my Grandparents Timothy and Roxanne, go here regularly! The staff are amazing, they are kind and make jokes with us it truly feels like an at home experience! ”Moose” as we call him, is an absolute thrill to have serve us and I would recommend him as a server any day! The waiters and waitresses all know my grandparents by name and greet them at the door with an open smile and kindness!

From about 1959-1967 my parents would go to the Moose club dinner once a month and my sister and I had our choice of take out. It was always Sammy’s Italian sausage pizza. My husband and I winter in Texas now but one of the first things we do when we get back to Hibbing is hit Sammy’s.

I had never heard of Sammy’s until I met my partner. He grew up in Duluth and I grew up in NW Minnesota. He told me it is a must have experience when in Duluth. Normally I am not a thin crust guy but decided let’s try it anyway. The sauce and sausage is better than any other pizza I have tried. The atmosphere is great and to this day we always get Sammy’s when in NE MN. I was feeling kind of blue one day. I will always have a place in my heart for Sammy’s not only for the quality ingredients and atmosphere but because it was our first regular eating establishment together. Thank you Sammy’s even when I don’t have time to stop in just driving by a Sammy’s puts a smile on my face.

It was probably 1961 and three of us guys cleaned up after the prom and we were given money to go to Sammy’s pizza. We had enough to order one big pizza three times. We stuffed our faces and had a great time. It was one of my fond memories. When we get to Hibbing we stop in for the buffet for sure ya betcha!

I graduated from Hibbing High in ’63. My father owned a clothing store on Howard Street 1 block from Sammy’s ( when it was on the other side of Howard Street. )  Every Friday night it seemed like everyone in the whole school wound up at Sammy’s for rigatoni and meatballs and the world’s best pizza. Some of my fondest memories of growing up in Hibbing included nights at Sammy’s!

Just wanted to let you know that my husband and I are long-term and frequent customers at the Coon Rapids location.  We love Sammy’s!  Our experiences have always been fabulous, from the always friendly greetings when we arrive, to the fabulous food, staff, atmosphere and music!  And then, as we are leaving, the staff always wishes us a good evening.  We are very happy, repeat customers!

Sue N.
This tale goes back to the 50’s. Our gang from Elk Mound spent lots of happy times at the
Eau Claire Sammy”s Pizza. They always had the tastiest pizza at affordable prices for
teenagers. A fun place to gather, too. Glad to hear they’re still doing a great job. I wish we had a Sammy’s Pizza near me in Brighton, Michigan

Delightfully satisfied!

Visited the Cloquet location for the first time today, Tuesday, January 21 for the lunch buffet. Wow… Impressed and pleased. How just a few staff were able to take care of a full dining room with such ease and calm… And from such a seemingly small buffet! Never felt busy at all, or that one needed to elbow their way to the fresh pies as they came out. The young men in the kitchen and at the counter were such nice guys, so pleasant even when they were clearly busy, and just one server kept a friendly, watchful, but never hovering eye on every table, keeping drinks filled and letting her willing presence be known, such that if a need arose, we knew we would not go unnoticed. I also must add that the salad and buffet area was so clean, only adding to the appeal of fresh offerings and oh my gosh, tomatoes that were some of the ripest I’ve ever seen in MN in January! To top it off, SEVEN SIXTY?! For a BUFFET?! Even with one of that size and limited selection, there was more than ample food, all tasty and hot (or cold, depending!), to make that an absolute bargain. Superb, Sammy’s in Cloquet… We notice, and we appreciate you!

I order from Sammy's Pizza a few times a month. My favorite is the Bianco. Sammy's definitely makes the best tasting pizza, by far!

The best food after a long plane trip.

I’ve got the best parents! They know when I fly in from Wyoming (the state, not the city) that I’ve been traveling for 11 hours. Sometimes they have a hot Sammy pizza waiting for me in the car when they pick me up at the Hibbing airport. Otherwise, no homecoming trip is complete without having Sammy’s, we usually get the family-sized Special. Yummmm.

We had a memorial for my sister in Duluth. I’m from out of town and ordered pizzas over the phone as I wasn’t sure when I would get there. The manager was very helpful and made it easy. They even delivered them. I wanted to make sure we had pizzas as this was one of foods she liked. I was there when they were delivered. They were hot and delicious as usual. It meant a lot to me to be able to do this. Thanks again. I love our Sammy’s in the town I live in.

I grew up on Sammy’s pizza in Winona, MN . I currently live in Cincinnati and have for over 20 years. The first thing I do when I visit family is call ahead to order my favorite pizza (mushroom and sausage). I cant wait. I’ll open the box and go right for the corner pieces. The pizza will half gone before I get to my mothers house and then we order for delivery. It’s the best pizza ever. If you ever decide to open a franchise outside the upper Midwest please let me know so I can be your first customer. Pizza here is OK but nothing like Sammy’s.

One summer evening, before my wife and I were married, we went to Sammy’s Pizza in Lakeside (then located at 45th and Superior Streets). We got a ground beef and onion pizza, and being so much in love, we couldn’t finish it. We left a couple of pieces. Now every year, on the anniversary of that evening, we order a ground beef and onion pizza – and we always leave a couple of pieces.

My husband and I met at the Duluth Air Base nearly 44 years ago and Sammy’s pizza was one of the best places to go. It was THE best pizza restaurant in all of Duluth. After a party how we loved to come in out of the cold (and it was cold 10 months out of the year, haha) and have a sausage pizza! Oh, how we still talk about those delicious sausage pizzas. The olive oil and grease from that wonderful sausage, and that fantastic crust! Makes my mouth water just to think about it. I wish I had asked for the recipe back then, but I could have cared less about cooking at the time. We now reside in Reno and sadly there is no Sammy’s pizza here, can I now get the recipe? Pleeeeease? Well, if not, please ship us two extra large, double sausage and extra cheese. Great, great memories were made there.

My parents grew up with the Perrellas, so as a small child myself and my siblings all did the same! Coming from northern Minnesota. I now live here in the cities, and I am so glad to see there is a Sammy’s down here, I took my wife to a movie and then we went to have a pizza at Sammy’s. Ever since that first time she had Sammy’s she will not eat pizza from anywhere else! Thank you for having the best pizza ever! Keep up the good work! Thank you!

We have been wintering in Texas and are hoping the snow stops SOON so we can get back to Sammy’s for the BEST pizza ever. We have not found anything close to the yummy pizza we get at Sammy’s. Spring please hurry so we can get back to the best pizza in the good old USA!

Anne and I grew up in Eau Claire. I used to work downtown, right next door at Luttrell Photography. One of our favorite dinner dates was at Sammy’s. In 1980 after another great pizza, I asked her to marry me. We were married in 1981. 32 years later we are happily married and looking forward to coming back to Eau Claire and revisiting a treasured memory, Sammy’s Pizza. See you this summer!

Alan & Anne
We first had Sammy’s pizza when we were kids (mid 60s!) and never forgot how great it is. We always got the Crew pizza. Went back a few weeks ago, discovered my old classmate Jean now running the place. We had the Crew pizza and it was even better, I swear! Go there. It will make you happy, and the people are lovely.

I grew up in Lakeside in Duluth and for years we watched softball games at Portman square across the street from Sammy’s Lakeside. When the wind was out of the East, the smell of fresh baked Sammy’s pizza would swarm the ball field and before the night was over, we would order our favorite pizza from Sammy’s. This was a tradition in our house for years and continues today with our family. Their pizza smells the same and tastes the same. The Perrella and Acheson families are a Duluth tradition for us with their consistently awesome pies!

It’s always been a tradition in our family to order Sammy’s pizza every time we came up from the cities to visit my grandparents. Even after my grandparents have passed on, my parents and I still order Sammy’s pizza every time they come up to visit me. I plan on doing this with my children to keep the tradition going.

I grew up in Minot in the early 60s. My Dad was a Minot police officer and worked at Sammy’s part time. One of my fondest memories are the nights my dad would come home very late and wake all of us kids up to enjoy a Sammy’s pizza. We all now live in Kansas and my father passed away last November. Our family will be traveling to North Dakota over the Fourth of July weekend to bring my dad home to bury him. We all will be coming to Sammy’s to enjoy the wonderful food and memories!

I had a frozen pizza Friday night, it was awesome, that's exactly what I remember. The only thing that would have been better was if I was at your restaurant and a waitress would have brought it to me instead of me having to cook it. IT WAS GREAT. I will buy more from you. Terrific job.



Subject: She might be young, but she has good taste!

Story: Our youngest daughter is only 6 years old, but she knows her pizza!
When we ask the kids if they want pizza for dinner, she says ”only if its Sammy’s”!

Also, in my family growing up, we used to fight over the ”corners” of the Sammy’s Pizza. (the little crust triangles) Now my oldsest son (10 years) and I have the race going! It truly is a family tradition.

Ross and Wendy
My parents grew up with the Perrella’s, so as a small child myself and my siblings all did the same! Coming from northern MN. I now live here in the cities, and i am so glad to see there is a Sammy’s down here, i took my wife to a movie and then we went to have a pizza at Sammy’s, Ever since that 1st time she had Sammy’s she will not eat pizza from anywhere else!! Thank you for having the best pizza ever!! Keep up the good work! Thank you! loyal customer Randy R.

Randy R, Coon Rapids, MN
I was born in Austin MN. My dad would help business do their books at night as a side job. Dad would often bring a Sammy;s Pizza home after doing books, and my parents would wake me up to eat Pizza as a wonderful treat. We moved to Minneapolis when I was in grade school, and the only time I could get Sammy’s Pizza was when I visited my Grand Parents in Austin. After I graduated HS I went to NDSU in Fargo, and before too long Sammy’s opened and I think I ate there at least 3 times a week. I also brought lots of friends along. When I would drive back home from Fargo, I would stop in St Cloud to pick up a couple of half baked Pizza’s as a treat for my family. I traveled the state for business and have visited every Sammy’s in Minnesota at least once. Now that Sammy’s is in Brooklyn Park I can get Sammy’s Pizza anytime I want. Sammy’s was the first Pizza I ever ate, and is still the best. Bill

Bill from Brooklyn Park, MN
I love Sammy's. My brothers and sisters love Sammy's. My boys grew up on Sammy's. I will be in Eau Claire and the first thing on my agenda ... Sammy's. We will probably be there or order two to three times in the week we are visiting. Did I say I love Sammy's!?

Anita , Billings, MT
I grew up going to Sammy's. Great place, great food. I miss it. I don't get to Hibbing much anymore. Sammy's in Sioux Falls, SD would be great!

Lori , Sioux Falls, SD
I was introduced to Sammy's by my Grandparents 37 years ago in the town of Wausau, WI. This was a special treat ordering that delicious pizza and I can still remember my grandfather collecting pizza coupons for a free large pizza. My travels have taken me to many Sammy's – Green Bay, Eau Claire, Winona, Minot, Coon Rapids and now in my backyard of Brooklyn Park. I have introduced this pizza to many friends who have also become fans of this great pizza. The tradition, recipe and people make this the best pizza by a long shot. "Sammy’s Forever"

Craig, Champlin, Minnesota
I grew up in Grand Rapids. Our Friday night treat was dinner at Sammy's!! We loved pizza night. Glad to see you close to me again!!! What memories!

Stacie, Plymouth, Minnesota
Grew up enjoying Sammy's Pizza in Minot years ago. Don't get back often and miss the pizza. Any chance of Sammy's being sold online? You could package/can the ingredients and ship it to all of us that have moved away. It wouldn't be quite the same w/o the proper oven but hey, it'd at least be a Sammy's fix. Thanks!!!

Mark, Sandy, Utah
Every time we're in the area, the first place we go to eat is Sammy's. The pizza is perfect every time.

Rick, Rosebud, South Dakota
My husband and I started dating in 1971. Our first date was at Sammy's Pizza on 1st Street in Duluth. Believe me, through our courtship we ate dozens of Sammy's pizzas. After we got married in 1972, we vowed that we would go back to Sammy's for every anniversary. After over 35 years, there have been few anniversaries that we have missed having Sammy's for our celebration.

Paulette, Duluth, MN
I used to live in Two Harbors, MN and worked in Duluth. Many nights on my way home I stopped in Lakeside for my Sammy's fix. Now it's my must have every time I'm home. THE GREATEST PIE ON EARTH!!!!!!!!!!!!

Eugene, Chico, Ca
Our son, Joe, worked at Sammy's in Hermantown, Central Entrance and Woodland. When he moved to Minneapolis he worked at Sammy Perella's in Brooklyn Park. Joe is now living in Denver, when we last drove out to see him we brought two fresh Sammy's pizzas in a large cooler, you would have thought he had died and went to heaven when he was eating them! His first stop when back in Duluth for Christmas is Sammy's. He is looking forward to summer break to go there again! You can take the boy away from Sammy's but you can't take the Sammy's away from the boy!

Nancy, Duluth, MN
My husband and I frequented Sammy's in Hibbing during our courting years. Was one of our favorite places to go on weekends. Now we are customers in Woodland.

Patricia, Duluth, MN
My brother and sister live in Florida and miss Sammy's Pizza so much that I bought frozen pizzas and sent them in dry ice to them for Christmas. The mailing charges were three times the price of the pizzas – but they were so happy to have Sammy's pizza! They expect it every year now!

Tammy, Duluth, MN
I used to visit Duluth as a child with my great aunt. We stayed at the Curtis House. I continued to visit Duluth through the 60s and early 70s. Sammy's was always on our list of places to eat. Nice to see Sammy's is still serving.

Bill, Guelph, ON

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