Live from Peoria, Illinois it’s Saturday Night starring this week’s host, Nick-N-Willy’s and featuring a cavalcade of guest stars and the co-host of this episode, Steve Carter! Now please welcome this week’s host from the back corner of the Metro Centre, Nick-N-Willy’s!
Last Saturday was the 24th anniversary of Nick-N-Willy’s pizza parlor in the Metro Centre. Owner Steve Carter invited all of the former and current employees to join him in this saucy celebration and I was invited too! I wasn’t going to show up to such a prestigious event empty-handed, so I called up Deb, the owner of Relics gift shop and asked her to pick out 24 gifts to present to Steve and his wife Linda for this celebratory occasion. She sent me a photo of the gifts and said they’d wrap them up for me and they’d be ready the day of the party.
Well that day is here and there’s Laurie behind the counter looking pretty and presenting me with the anniversary package for the party! And now we’ll magically let the afternoon dissolve into evening and...
Here we are at Nick-N-Willy’s in the Metro Centre! I love the neon lights in the window and the sign says that they are indeed open, so let’s go inside and see what’s happening!
Nick-N-Willy’s offer “take and bake” pizza pies, but as you can see, they have a large and inviting dining room where you can eat inside of the restaurant as well. There’s local sports memorabilia on the walls as well as art from artists in and around Peoria. But there’s supposed to be a party going on here, where’s all the people?
Oh, here they are! There’s a nice crowd of people here and most of them are former and current workers from Nick-N-Willy’s! This is a fun reunion and it’s a blast seeing people reconnect with each other. Plus there’s free pizza! And it’s delicious!
Your Host and the Owner of Nick-N-Willy’s
There’s the host of the evening, Steve Carter on the right, with Frank Abdnour, former owner of The Spotted Cow restaurant.
Steve told me he decided to buy the franchise back in 1996. He had worked for A.E. Staley in Galesburg and they closed the plant. He had heard about Nick-N-Willy’s and went to their home base in Boulder, Colorado and said he fell in love with the whole idea of bringing this pizza to Peoria.
He opened this pizza parlor in this spot in the Metro Centre back on April 27, 1996 and now Nick-N-Willy’s is starting their 24th year in business!
Steve said that over 300 people have worked here through the years and a good number of them are here tonight, let’s meet some of them!
Some of the Guests
I couldn’t get everyone’s photo, but here’s a sampling of some of the guests in attendance for last Saturday’s pizza reunion party!
1. That’s Steve with Andy Diaz, who was one of the first employees who was hired back in 1996!
2. There’s Katelyn Klusendorf who was hired in 2004 and her sister Lauren Tyler who started at Nick-N-Willy’s back in 2008.
3. This is Jill Motler with her daughter Sarah who was an employee in 1996.
4. Here’s Steve with the Ingles family! From the left there’s Steve, Brennan, De and John! Brennan has worked here for over two years and De and John have their own business, Smiley Graphix and they designed the Nick-N-Willy’s t-shirt that Steve and John are wearing and they were printed by JAM Screen Printing.
5. This is Andy Diaz who was pictured at the top with his wife, Katherine.
6. Here’s two current Nick-N-Willy’s employees, Kaliegh Strode and Chessa Glasnovich.
Michelle’s Return to Pizza Making!
Michelle Lacy started working here back in 2010 and she hasn’t made a pizza here in over six years, so she decided to try her skills behind the counter tonight! She proved that making a pizza pie is like riding a bike, once you develop the skill, you never forget! I tried a slice of her pie and it was tasty and delicious!
Steve mad a collage of pictures from the past and everyone enjoyed looking at this Nick-N-Willy’s time capsule!
Steve started opening the gifts from Relics and soon everyone joined in on the fun of unwrapping them and we all got a kick out of the fun and unique gifts that Deb picked out for the anniversary party!
Last December, Nick-N-Willy’s honored me and the MBIP blog by naming a pizza after me and here it is on the wall and on the printed menu! They’ve tweaked the recipe since then, so Steve said he’d make a Wombacher 2.0 version for this evening’s festivities!
Here’s Steve throwing the dough in the air and creating the Wombacher Pizza Pie! We both sampled a slice and it is truly a taste-sensation!
There’s a special running from today all the way through May that if you order a medium Wombacher you get a FREE medium pizza with your order! Such a deal!