By Carlee Frank
During the 16th century, tomatoes were brought to Europe from Peru and were widely believed to be poisonous. They eventually entered the diets of the poor of Naples, Italy and were placed as toppings on flat yeast dough. The dough has a longer history, but this Napolitano dish is accepted as the first simple pizza. Since then, pizza was adapted by nearly every world culture. There is the lahma bi ajeen from Lebanon, the okonomiyaki in Japan and the deep dish of Chicago. At The Pizza Glen of Glenwood, NY, who, of course, serves New York style.
The Pizza Glen was opened in April 1980 by Mike Rowan and Tom Calhoun, but due to an unfortunate accident some years after opening, Calhoun passed away. Since then, the pizza parlor has been run by Rowan and his family.
Rowan has been in the business so long that it has become part of his identity.
“Everyone calls me Pizza Mike. I’ve had regulars for years who don’t know my last name,” Rowan said. “I always tell them my last name is Mike and my first name is Pizza!” he added jokingly.
He has seen almost every pizza topping combination imaginable, but the one that takes the cake is his customer who orders a small pizza with every topping on it except anchovies.
“If you look at my menu and see what our toppings are, his small pizza is probably 4 inches thick. He gets it loaded and it’s really something,” Rowan said.
The atmosphere of The Pizza Glen is casual. The walls are decorated with vintage beer and sports paraphernalia, and a pool table in the back overlooks the outdoor deck. The restaurant is eat-in, and has a bar and takeout option.
“I like to come down each night and mix with all of the people –it’s a nice friendly atmosphere,” Rowan said.
He noted that many of his regulars are from Craneridge and Glenwood, but The Pizza Glen has a coupon in the Night-Out Book Buffalo Edition which brings customers from out of town as well.
Located just a stone’s throw away from Kissing Bridge on Route 240, ski season is usually the busiest time of year for Rowan and his family. Not only do skiers frequent the joint, but he said shorter days of winter mean less outdoor work time and people want something to do –so they stop by for a bite to eat.
However, mild winters are hard on local businesses.
“It’s been a struggle for the last few years because the snow is just not there, the weather’s not cooperating with anybody,” Rowan said.
But business is still good because, he said, the pizza is so good. The dough is made fresh in-house every day and has customers raving. Some have even been coming since they opened in 1980.
Another tradition from the restaurant’s early days is The Pizza Glen Mug Club. Customers could buy a 12-ounce mug from the bar, put their name on it and hang it up for their use every time they visited. Rowan said it made them feel like they were a part of the business. He now has nearly 700 mugs from over the years, and if a mug club member passes away, he will return the mug to their family.
Rowan also gives back to the community by donating baskets to benefits and charities. Similarly, The Pizza Glen prints gift certificates, which he said sell a lot more during the Christmas season.
They open at 11 a.m. Monday to Saturday and at 12 p.m. on Sunday, and close time depends on flow.
“When the phone stops ringing and the people at the bar leave, that’s the end of it,” Rowan said.
If you want a delicious slice of pizza, with your choice of over 15 toppings, tacos, wings or one of the other tasty food items offered at The Pizza Glen, stop by 9764 State Road, or visit their Facebook page and website for more information.