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Seabeck Pizza keeps it local and all in the family
His family was in the logging business, but Jerry Anderson knew it wasn’t for him.
“I thought I’d make a go at it and open a pizza shop,” said Anderson, owner and founder of Seabeck Pizza. “But I had to prove it.”
Seabeck Pizza, founded in 1989, now has five locations in Kitsap besides the original in Seabeck. The newest addition in Silverdale, 9919 Trident Lane NW, opened in August. Anderson, 58, owns the original location with the others owned by his daughter, Joleen Reynolds and her husband Nick Reynolds.
Although Anderson grew up in Port Orchard, he spent a lot of time in Seabeck either fishing with his uncle or watching his father logging. He has now been a Seabeck resident for 21 years.
“Instead of being in town, I wanted to be somewhere I could be happy,” he said of the location of his pizzeria.
The building housing the original location next to the Olympic View Marina, also known as the Seabeck marina, has been there since the 1950s. But before it became Seabeck Pizza, it operated only in the summer months. People interested in running a business in the small outpost would offer the building owner bids for the lease every spring. Anderson knew that there was a long line ahead of him because it was a popular spot to open up shop in the summer. He therefore offered to run it during the winter. It had been a hamburger joint, a fish and chips spot and a Mexican restaurant. Although the building owner laughed at him when he inquired to lease the building in the winter to sell pizza, by April, Anderson was able to extend the lease.
Getting to where he is now has not always been smooth sailing.
“I took any training I could,” Anderson said. He worked at a Bremerton McDonalds in the ‘70s. He also had stints as a manager at Pizza Hut for six years and spent some time working at Kentucky Fried Chicken. He learned aspects of marketing as well as how to utilize employees by their strengths. And, perhaps most importantly, he learned from mistakes. There was an incident at McDonalds where there was a 15 cent hamburger special for an anniversary celebration and they ran out of hamburger buns. He and his coworkers had to rush to the ferry terminal to meet shipments of buns and rush back to the restaurant.
While at the fast food chains, Anderson knew that eventually he would open his own resaturant. He got interested in pizza while working at a pizza parlor in Port Orchard. The owner was an Italian man who didn’t have any written recipes but Anderson just watched and learned. He also learned baking tricks from his mother, grandmother and aunts, which helped develop his knack with pizzas.
Seabeck Pizza offers a variety of deep dish pizzas and Anderson said his recipe has been the same since he first opened in Seabeck nearly 22 years ago. Anderson describes his deep dish as “light and fluffy” compared to other deep dishes that have thicker crusts and are chewy.
And his recipe?
“I can’t tell you that,” Anderson said, but did intimate a couple trade secrets, including letting the dough rise twice.
Working with family has its benefits. In 1999 Anderson sold the Belfair location to his daughter, who he thought never wanted to be in the pizza business. She was 11 years old when the original location opened and Anderson said he could not even get her to fold a pizza box. He is excited that the business has stayed in the family and hopes his grandchildren will show an interest. Besides the ownership being in the family, he has had nieces, his wife and other family members work for him.
“Nine times out of 10 you know they got your back,” he said.