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Mayville pizzeria a 50-year tradition

The Pizza Shop’s current owner, Tom Stocking, places toppings on a small pizza in the 50-year-old Mayville restaurant he bought from his mother-in-law, Marge Spies, after her retirement in 2001. Kile Brewer / Forum News Service

MAYVILLE, N.D. – New restaurant owners can take a “pizza” advice from the Pizza Shop: make everything yourself, and you might just stick around for 50 years.

“Whenever people ask ‘What’s so different?’ the only thing I can come up with is that we make everything from scratch,” said Mary Stocking, 49, who owns the restaurant with her husband, Tom, 53.

The restaurant, started in 1964 by Mary Stocking’s parents, Keith and Marge Spies, is entering its 50th year of business.

The Pizza Shop has undergone multiple renovations because of flood damage in 1979 and 2009, as well as minor repairs in 2010. But despite closures and competition from incoming chains, business has stayed steady for half a century.

One day this past dweek, the phone rang almost continuously after the restaurant opened at 4 p.m.

“People just keep coming in,” Mary Stocking said.

When the Pizza Shop first opened in Mayville, a town of about 2,000, there was doubt that it would be able to stay in business. Marge Spies said that when she was preparing to open the restaurant, people told her it wouldn’t work because pizza wasn’t a “real food,” but rather just a snack.

Yet, 50 years later, the building – originally the Mayville State University Science Building – has been relocated to 2nd Avenue Southwest right off state Highway 200, which runs through the center of town. The building, which displays “Pizza Shop” in red neon capital letters on separate white rectangles, has the vintage look of an old bowling alley or drive-in movie theater.

In the 1970s, the Spies added onto the building and started a convenience store, but the space now holds Tommy’s Bar, which the Stockings opened a year or so after purchasing the business in 2003.

Mary Stocking said she hasn’t changed much from her parents’ original restaurant, saying there was no reason to reinvent the wheel for a business that was succeeding. Over the years she has added a few different pizzas, hamburgers and fried pickles, but that’s about it.

50 years of fresh

The Pizza Shop’s thin, dense crust and spice recipe for its sauce are both recipes of Keith Spies, who started the tradition of fresh ingredients and preparation.

Mary Stocking said that in addition to making everything from scratch, the ingredients are prepared fresh every day. The Pizza Shop staff makes the dough, grinds cheese from the block, adds spices to the ground beef and sausage and slices all the vegetables each morning.

Mary Stocking said the Pizza Shop’s two most popular pizzas are “the Chef,” which has Canadian bacon, pepperoni, ground beef, green onions, green peppers, mushrooms and onions, and “Tommy’s,” which has pepperoni, sausage, ground beef and Canadian bacon.

The restaurant’s homemade fare has not only survived numerous floods, but it also weathered the introduction of a Pizza Hut in the early 1980s.

Mary Stocking said the competition caused quite a headache for her mother, but the franchise closed within a decade, leaving the Pizza Shop to endure for the next generation.

Tom Stocking said he and his wife plan on running the Pizza Shop until they can retire, swapping the pizza ovens for rocking chairs.

Garrett Richie
Garrett Richie is a general assignment reporter and digital writer for The Grand Forks Herald. Richie is a 2014 graduate of the Missouri School of Journalism and is formerly of The Ludington Daily News in Ludington, Mich. Have a good story idea? Contact Richie by either phone or email, both of which are listed below. If you would like to comment on a story, send a letter to the editor with Richie's name and phone number. Generally, letters should be no longer than 250 words, and all letters are subject to editing. Email to or mail to The Grand Forks Herald.
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