By Tony Lorino
SHS Class of 1999
A popular restaurant for Shorewood alums, last known on January 19th as the Pizza Man restaurant, located on the corner of Oakland and North Avenue in Milwaukee, burned in a four-alarm fire. The blaze completely gutted Pizza Man and the rest of the building, which also included a nightclub, two other restaurants, and ten apartments on the building’s second floor.
Luckily, all of the apartment’s residents were evacuated, and no one was hurt. The building, however, has already been torn down.
Although it stood outside the Village of Shorewood, its nearly 40-year run since opening in 1970 made a huge impression on Shorewood students and alums. After soliciting for Pizza Man memories on Facebook, I learned that it was a popular hangout for Shorewood seniors in the 1970s to enjoy pizza and pitchers – since the drinking age was 18, after all. In later years, it played host to many pre-homecoming dinners, post-musical rehearsal snacks, and philanthropic events too, including a yearly benefit for Camp Heartland organized by Shorewood students in the 1990s.
Investigators believe the fire to be arson, but as the building was completely destroyed, may never know the exact cause. However, they do believe the fire started in the Black and White Café, located at the far eastern storefront in the building.
Fans of the restaurant were able to get a piece of Pizza Man before demolition – literally – as de-construction crews allowed former patrons to take bricks from the building as crews helped to tear it down. For now, those will remain as the only memories of the fallen restaurant, but the restaurant’s owners say they’ll be back creating more Pizza Man memories soon. Mike and Deanna Amidzich, who owned Pizza Man since 1970, have said they plan to re-open, likely on a new site. Although they haven’t confirmed one yet, speculation continues to grow on where they will re-open.
Former patrons can now follow the process and re-building themselves on Facebook by searching “Pizza Man.”