A few weeks ago, I asked everyone on our Facebook page which Indy area business they missed the most. The answers varied but so many of them were responses about favorite restaurants, including The Paramount Music Palace.
I didn’t grow up in Indiana, but my knowledge runs deep about the gem of a pizza place known as Paramount. My husband loved this family friendly hot spot. He still mourns his 12th birthday when he waited in line with his aunt for over an hour in a queue that wrapped around the building. Everyone wanted to visit one last time on the final night that the Paramount Music Palace would be open. Sadly, they never made it in for that last evening of tunes and pizza.
While it’s hardly a consolation, he owns a vinyl recording of his favorite musicians playing at the Indianapolis Paramount Music Palace and it’s on regular rotation in our home.
This summer, on a road trip through Arizona, we crossed this item off of his bucket list AND introduced our children to the joy of his childhood. Organ Stop Pizza in Mesa, Arizona popped up in search one evening while my husband Jacob was telling his friends about his beloved Paramount and it was the winning reason he agreed to fly out west and help me wrap up a three week road trip with our kids.
Organ Stop Pizza is a trip down memory lane for Indianapolis residents who visited the Paramount Pizza Palace from 1978 to 1995. The layout was so similar and there are even two elements from the Paramount Musical Palace within Organ Stop Pizza. Organ Stop has the largest Wurlitzer Organ in the world with 82 ranks and over 6,000 pipes – a few of those pipes are from the organ that played at Paramount and the order number board is also from Indianapolis.
Donna Parker, who performed in Indianapolis also made the move to Organ Stop and can be seen playing occasionally. During our visit, it was her birthday and she wasn’t there, however, the extremely talented Glenn Tallar is a regular performer. Glenn has been performing since he was seven years old and has memories of visiting the Paramount Music Palace in Indianapolis during family road trips to see organ restaurants across the country.
My husband Jacob said that walking into Organ Stop was just like he remembered Paramount Music looking, with a few minor differences – but he acknowledges that these differences could just be his 12 year old kid’s memory and imagination causing him to remember things differently. Jack, one of the owners of Organ Stop said that the restaurant design was based a lot on the Indianapolis Paramount Music Palace.
Nostalgia and that trip down memory lane are second to seeing our kids experience the organ rising from the stage and the lights flashing and music shaking your bones. While many of the favorite songs remain the same for our generation, like Chattanooga Choo Choo, today’s kids requested and were treated to songs by Katie Perry and music from the Frozen and Moana movies.
The pizza menu at Organ Stop is full of build your own choices and specialty pizza, pasta, appetizers, and even a salad bar. There’s a beer and wine bar, beverage station (by the glass or the pitcher for soft drinks) and the beloved ice cream station. When your order is ready, your number lights up on a number board and you grab your pizza to bring back to the dinning hall or the balcony tables.
Perhaps the best part for the kids was filling out the request cards with their favorite songs and waiting to see if their song was played. Our children loved dancing to the music and singing along in front of the rotating stage. We stayed for two and a half sessions of music and then had to drag our family out to the car – no one wanted to leave.
We heard stories of how the Organ Stop, even today, has many nights with standing room only. There’s holiday music in the winter and slower songs in the late evenings. There were so many families, couples and adult friend groups filling the restaurant on both the upper and lower level. There was always somewhere to sit, but the “best seats” were constantly filled. This makes me wonder if there would still be a place for the Paramount Music Palace in Indianapolis today. I think so.
There’s another organ pizza place in Wisconsin and you betcha it’s on our list for later this year.
Organ Stop Pizza is located at 1149 E Southern Ave, Mesa, AZ 85204