Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Pizza and a prayer

Lest yesterday’s post about happenings on Easter Sunday makes me seem like a cynical curmudgeon, here is a more uplifting Easter story.  It was about 1978, I suppose, when a new pizza parlor opened next to Mid-City Toyota, on the northwest corner of 13th and Q Streets.  The building had formerly been the home of a restaurant with the mind-bending name of the Hong Kong Pizza King. 

The new owners had extensively remodeled the place and opened as Pontillo’s Pizzeria.  It was New York style pizza in a town where Valentino’s thicker, saucier, cheesier variety held sway.  My good buddy Tim, though, was a Brooklyn native, and a Toyota owner.  He converted me to both.  Soon, Pontillo’s was a frequent stop for my wife, baby boy, and me.  We’d meet on my dinner break sometimes, and drop in on my days off at least once a week. 

The owners of the Pontillo’s franchise were Kal and Darlene Knudson, and they were like grandparents to our new baby boy when we visited the store.  Darlene would scoop him up and take him in back.  As he grew into a toddler, Kal or Darlene would take him to back to the fountain to fill up his tippy cup with Mountain Dew.  A bunch of the Knudsen’s kids worked at the store, and it was a picture of a hard-working family enterprise.

As the years passed, the Knudsen’s branched out with a new store at 44th and O Street, then eventually became the five DaVinci’s we all know today.  Kal and Darlene not only started a successful business, they also started a longstanding Easter tradition of giving.  Since 1985, the Knudsen family has opened their doors to the lonely and needy, serving  Easter dinner to hundreds in the true spirit of this Holy Day, no questions asked. 

Now be honest: doesn’t a pepperoni pizza or an Italian hoagie sound mighty good compared to the usual, ham, lamb, and yam?


Anonymous said...

Yes it sounds good. Ham salad, ham and eggs, ham and the list goes on and on. After dinner on Sunday many are having the ham left over dilemma. Even the dogs are tiered of ham and it is only Tuesday...sigh

Steve said...

I'll stick with their Masterpiece Combo, and hold the Mountain Dew.

Edward said...


off the subject....So maybe you can just help me out here. I was wondering what your standing is on these vending breathalyzer machines that seem to be the new wave that are suppose to help bar patrons from drinking and driving.... they are able to use this machine and determine if they need to stop drinking or call for a taxi or ride..... a typical 1.00 fee for this vending machine.... and seems to help both the bar patrons and the bar owners....

Just wondering if you had any input on these things and if they would help our local community with overserving and dui's?


Anonymous said...

The Hong Kong Pizza King and Taco Hut -- great memories! Pontillo's was wonderful food and the owners made you feel like part of their family.

Tom Casady said...


Too soon for me to say. First, I worry about accuracy. I spent a fair amount of time in my youth learning how to operate and calibrate a gas chromatograph, and it was no easy task. The technology has changed, but it still takes quite a bit of knowledge and skill and time to properly maintain breath alcohol testing instruments.

My second concern is that the machine, rather than being used by someone who's trying to make a sound decision, will become another sort of drinking game: "Hey, I'm drunker than you!"

Put me down in the wait-and-see column.

Anonymous said...

You may be right about the breathalyzer machines being turned in to just another drinking game. Back in the late 1970's a few of the bars I patronized in Oklahoma City installed coin operated machines for testing reaction times. Put in a quarter and as soon as the green light came on you hit a button. It measured the reaction time in one thousandths of a second. To keep the player honest a red light might flash on instead of green. If you hit the button on red you were called various profane names by the machine. Reaction times usually got faster until after a number of drinks when they got slower. Sometimes that point would have been well after consuming enough to push the player way past the then .15 BAC.

Gun Nut

ARRRRG!!!! said...

Do they serve my favorite pizza?

Anonymous said...

Chief-Here's a novel idea. Have someone blow into the little test device before the bartender serves them another drink to determine how close to being overserved they are.

I agree with you. I think those vending machine deals primary use would be to compare and see who has bragging rights on highest BAC.
Just like the electronic punching bags, etc.


Anonymous said...

I remember the WKRP episode where the state cop was testing Johnny after drinking several shots of booze. His reaction time got faster, much to the chagrin of the cop.

Yeah, i see such machines becoming a game and a problem, not the life saving machine they are making it out to be.

Anonymous said...

Chief-Lest I forget the original post, the Knudson family exemplifies the true spirit of Christ we should all try to attain.


Ed said...


according to the site


the Accuracy (+/- .o1)

now obviously our purpose will be to control over consumption and showing bars and other serving establishments care ofr the safety of the patrons....

trying to keep people from DUI...
but as similar to alot pf products created by man... we cant control the proper use of its original purpose... I.E.

brake fluid
bath beads
scotch gaurd
airplane glue

now...we hope they use it to make decisions to stop drinking and sober up before driving...or calling a cab or giving keys to a friend who can drive.... without any negative effects..... we offer safety. and true concerns for the bars and its patrons.... again... we are the midwest.... so we can be a little behind times, and we can fear that we dont understand...... but again the purpose of these machines are primarily.... so save lives...

just wondering if the commmunity would also be interested in saving lives...??? and what your input would be since you have a close relationship with bars in this town......thats all...



Anonymous said...

What a great story Chief and good people.

Anonymous said...

Personally, I can't stand Valentino's pizza. I loved Pontillo's. My favorite item though is the tuna hogie, extra meat.