After 31 years, the Piepgrases sell the family-operated business
By Kristen Miller
The coming year will look quite different for the Piepgras family, after owners Dave and Mary Piepgras sold the 31-year-old pizza business Jan. 1.
Dave originally purchased the Pizza Factory in August 1983, from brother and sister, Kevin Bryant and Diane Heins, when it was located on the corner of Millard Avenue and Third Street.
Prior to that, Dave had worked at the Pizza Factory in St. Paul, and decided to become an entrepreneur himself.
Five years into his ownership, Dave met Mary Morris, his future wife. Her dad actually operated a grocery store in the same location before it became a pizza place.
Mary also happens to be the Pizza Factory’s longest employee.
“I always tried to get fired, but it never worked,” Mary joked, adding, “Free help is hard to come by.”
After working for 31 years, seven days a week, the Piepgrases are ready to do something different.
Dave has been driving bus for Trailblazer Transit since May, and Mary is looking forward to spending more time with her eight grandchildren (with another on the way).
They are also looking forward to having some time off, “before we get too old to enjoy it,” Mary commented.
Just before the purchase, the Pizza Factory was the longest running restaurant under the same ownership in Cokato.
A testament to its longevity, Mary noted, was that some parents of their current employees had also once worked at the restaurant.
Taking over ownership of the Broadway Avenue restaurant, including the pizza recipes, is Roberta Brandel, manager of Lake Region Co-op in Cokato. Her husband, Randy, owns Flatout Tire Service in Cokato.
No longer the Pizza Factory, the business opened Friday under its new name, Broadway B’s Dining.
The Piepgrases had tried selling the business over the last few years, and offering it for sale the last six months.
Brandel had seen a sign in the Pizza Factory’s window advertising its sale. After discussing it with Randy, they decided to purchase the business.
The menu will remain the same for now (including the pizza recipes), though Brandel said she would like to add items, including baskets and breakfast items.
The Piepgrases aren’t completely out of the business, yet, however. They will continue working with the new owners through February, teaching the ropes of the operation.
After that, the couple will likely be using the travel vouchers their children gave them for Christmas. “Take a vacation, you deserve it,” Mary reiterated what their children told them.
Daughter Megan is sad to see her parents’ operation come to an end, but she’s also happy for them.
With their five children having grown up working in the restaurant, the Pizza Factory has been a part of all of their lives.
The restaurant has been their second home, and for that reason, it’s been very emotional in some ways, Mary noted.
Dave and Mary said they are going to miss all of the guests who frequent the restaurant.
Dave is also going to miss having the grandchildren there, running around, he said.
Their 5-year-old grandson told his grandparents they were “ruining the world by selling the Pizza Factory.”
Megan, who began working at the restaurant officially in ninth grade, remembers taking half-baked pizzas to college with her a food she never tired of eating.
“It’s going to be a big change,” Megan commented.
The Piepgrases appreciate all their guests over the years, and wish the new owners success.