MANSFIELD – Mansfield’s oldest pizza shop keeps its menu basic.
The Leaning Tower of Pizza, 180 Lexington Avenue, sells the same pizza and subs that it did when it first opened in 1957. Now, it’s celebrating 60 years in business with a parking lot party in mid-August.
“Why change a good thing?” day-shift manager Kathy Chinni said.
The menu includes the popular “Basic Sub,” which layers salami, bologna, red pizza sauce, mozzarella and provolone cheese on freshly baked bread. Deluxe or Vegetarian Subs are also available. And its pizzas can be ordered with a variety of toppings in 7, 11, 13 or 15 inch options.
Leaning Tower of Pizza will celebrate its anniversary at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 19 with a party in the parking lot.
Live music will be provided by musicians who work at or are associated with the restaurant. The list of performers include Taj Torremce, Bird’s Cage, Prehistoric, Thomas Edison Sound Machine and The Deathrays. Free beer will be provided and 8-inch subs will be reduced to the weekday lunchtime special prices.
Employee Ryan Carr remembers visiting when he was young.
“My parents both love the subs, but I had never tasted the pizza until I started working here,” Carr said, “Now, I’d take the pizza over the subs. I’m a pizza guy.”
Now that he’s worked at the Leaning Tower of Pizza for eight years, Carr focuses on customer service.
“We put them (customers) on a pedestal,” he said. “We make them feel like they’re welcome here and have them leave with a smile and the right sub.”
The food is prepared in ovens with brick-bottoms, which takes more time, but Chinni says the food is worth the wait.
Customers overwhelmingly agree. Out of 189 Facebook reviews, Mansfield pizza shop has 171 five-star reviews.
The Leaning Tower of Pizza was opened in 1957 by Joe Hess. The business bought its bread from a nearby bakery until it closed. At that point, they began making their own. A woman named “Hazel” came up with the recipe that is still used today.
In the 1960’s and 70’s, it became the “hangout place,” and in 1992, Hess sold the shop to MaryJane Gemzer and her late husband, Greg. Presently, Chinni says the restaurant gets customers from “all over.” She mentioned one person who visited from Florida.
“We haven’t really changed. Everything’s the same, down to the posters on the wall,” she said. “This place is iconic. People love coming here, seeing the posters, talking about their memories here.”
Learn more about Leaning Tower at its website or stop by to try something off the menu. Hours are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
“I don’t think you can find a sub like ours anywhere else,” Chinni said.