July 9, 2007

A look at the past: Red's Pizza

The former Red’s Pizza of Howard Lake opened in 1958

By Samantha Schommer
Staff Intern

The persuasion of a friend, a fatal fire, and a big move all helped lead to what was once Red’s Pizza.

Betty Hatrick, a Howard Lake native, and her husband, the late Wayne “Red” Hatrick, lived in Milwaukee, Wis. for about six years with their young family.

Red worked out on the lake with car ferries, and Betty worked for Sam Dequardo at a pizza place called Dequardo’s, while raising their children.

Dequardo found his business to be quite successful, so he wanted to open another shop, but he could not do it alone. He persuaded Betty and her husband to open another Dequardo’s in southern Milwaukee.

Red gave up his sailor cap for a pizza cutter and began to learn the pizza- making business.

The couple ran the shop in Milwaukee, while living upstairs, for about two and a half years, until tragedy struck.

The Dequardos’ building caught fire and the entire place was destroyed, taking with it two of the Hatrick children.

“I said, ‘We can’t stay here anymore,’” Betty Hatrick said. “It was just too painful.”

So the rest of the family packed up and moved to California, where they opened another pizza place.

“We weren’t ‘big’ enough in California to make it, so we came back to my hometown to start over again,” Hatrick said.

The Hatricks moved back to Howard Lake in August of 1958 with a larger family, optimistic minds, and pizza-loving hearts.

They opened up a shop across from the old bank, the present police department, in a present day apartment building on Highway 12 in Howard Lake.

“We opened up on a shoestring,” Hatrick said.

They baked the pizzas in just a kitchen stove, which proved to be ineffective because it cooled off too easily.

“The oven was not good for the pizza business, so Red borrowed $500 from Security State Bank and made the two-day trip to Wisconsin to buy a used oven,” Hatrick told.

A friend helped the couple hook the oven up, and they were open for business again the next day.

The young family struggled to make it at first, but with the help of friends like Tony Entinger, who made tables for customers to dine on, they slowly began to rise to success.

Rent, for the Hatricks was about $50 a month in 1958.

“On our opening night, we took in about $35. We were just tickled,” Hatrick said.

The original Red’s Pizza employed one waitress, Lois Mapes, who earned about 50 cents an hour, according to Hatrick.

Red’s began selling only medium and large pizzas, with a large priced at $1.85.

A variety of not-so-popular toppings were available to put on your pizza.

“At that time, we were putting lobster that came in a can on the pizzas,” Hatrick said. “ We even tried tuna, but it didn’t work out so well because you would have to put the whole can on one pizza, otherwise it would go bad.”

According to Hatrick, anchovies were not a favorite topping, but they were included on the menu, nonetheless.

After several years of smooth sailing, the Hatricks were forced to leave the building because the owner, who lived upstairs, had gotten sick and needed to use the basement, where the pizza shop was located.

Red’s Pizza then moved their location to what was called Masonic Hall, where they stayed only for a year.

“It was a wasted year,” said Hatrick. “It was so cold in that building that you could hold up a match and it would just blow right out.”

After an unsuccessful trial at the second location, the Hatricks moved the business again.

They bought a Coast-to-Coast store from Byron and Adele Johnson on Highway 12.

Business was much better at this location.

“People packed in there until three in the morning; of course, we did open at 5 p.m.,” Hatrick stated.

Red’s Pizza soon prepared for yet another move on Highway 12.

This time they relocated the business across the street to the old bakery, where Sunni’s Grille is now located.

“Miller’s bakery across the street moved out, and we thought it was a nicer, more upgraded building, so we moved there,” Hatrick stated.

The Millers said they would remodel if the Hatricks signed a three-year lease.

Red’s ran for quite some time in this location, with only one catastrophe.

One New Year’s Eve, a man started a fire on a mattress in an empty apartment upstairs above Red’s.

“The fire burnt us and the five and dime store next door out,” said Hatrick.

After the fire, friends of the Hatricks, and all of the craftsmen in Howard Lake, joined together to rebuild Red’s Pizza.

The joint effort was completed in only 23 days, and Red’s was able to open up again for business Jan. 23.

At this time, Red and Betty were living in Nisswa. Their daughter, Trudy, and her husband, Steve Berg, managed the business when Red and Betty were out of town.

Eventually, Trudy and Steve bought Red’s Pizza in 1970 from Red and Betty.

They ran it as such for about 12 years, culminating in a sale to Bill and Gloria Strandquist.

Red’s Pizza continued under several different owners, but as of a few years ago, there is no longer a Red’s Pizza in Howard Lake.

The memories of the pizza shop, however, will forever live on with the Betty Hatrick.

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