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Nov 28, 2022

1980s Fort Collins pizza restaurants that are gone but not forgotten

Just as there weren't many options for Mexican Food Restaurants in Fort Collins, Colorado back in the 1980s, there also weren't nearly as many pizzeria's back in the day. During my drive home today, I started trying to compile a mental list of the pizza joints I remember as a kid. I thought it would be fun to list them here for posterity. 

Listed below are the pizza places I remember from 1980s Fort Collins. Please chime in if you remember a Fort Collins pizza place that's not listed here, and I will add it to my list!

Defunct 1980s Fort Collins Pizza Restaurants.. 

Showbiz Pizza Place

I loved this place when I was a kid. It was the restaurant equivalent to Disneyland for me. I believe it opened in 1980 and eventually turned into a Chuck E. Cheese. You can read an article I wrote on my Retro Blog entitled: Memories of SHOWBIZ Pizza Place

Panhandler's Pizza

Delicious pan style pizza that never disappointed. I believe there were two locations in Fort Collins, but my family's favorite store was the location in the Campus West area by Colorado State University. You can read an article I wrote about them on my Retro Blog here..
Memories of Panhandler's Pizza

Shakey's Pizza

While Shakey's definitely lost its charm as a themed restaurant over the years, they still had great pie, and always had a great assortment of video games to play in the 80s. You can read more about just how incredible this restaurant was during its heyday, in a recent article I wrote called:
70s and 80s Memories of Shakey's Pizza Parlor


Located at 2635 S. College Ave. This was my family's go-to pizzeria during much of the 80s. The pizza tasted amazing and the restaurant had a simple, yet fun atmosphere. I expressly remember a huge yellow airplane that resembled an early 1900s bi-plane, that was suspended from the ceiling. I don't believe there was any other theming like that in the restaurant, but for some strange reason it worked and didn't look out of place. I must have spent hours peering up at that plane during my childhood.

My brother always started out the evening by pumping quarters into the jukebox, while I would procure a spot at the Pac-Man video game table to play a few rounds before dinner. I had no clue Big Cheese was a chain restaurant until many years later. In fact, I believe there are still locations in different states like New Mexico, Florida and Washington just to name a few.

The Upper Crust

I can't remember too much about the Upper Crust, other than getting it delivered on occasion. I know it was a chain (possibly a local one) with stores in neighboring towns like Greeley. If I remember correctly, they had a store located on 1012 S. College Ave. near the old Historic Fort Collins High School. I do remember their pizza tasting pretty dang good. 

I always got a kick out of my Dad working at barber shop called 'The Upper Cut' before opening his own barber shop in Old Town Fort Collins that he operated for twenty some-odd years. As a young boy, I often fantasized about him working at the Upper Crust and bringing home free pizza.

Old Chicago
(Old Town Location)
Old Chicago opened up in the late 80s and closed in 2018. They had some great tasting pizza and were responsible for opening my eyes to the world of craft beer. The love of craft beer I developed there, set me on a path of homebrewing that has spanned close to thirty years.

Vinny's Pizza

This one wasn't around for a super long time. It opened in the mid 80s and was located in the old University Plaza Mall at 2229 S. College Ave. Serving up thin slices of New York style pie, this pizzeria is where I bought pizza by the slice for the very first time in Colorado.

Vinnie's Pizza
This place was almost directly across from SHOWBIZ Pizza. I remember the pizza having an incredible crust and the sauce having a nice pop, but what I really miss was a menu item called 'Gator Bread'.

Cozzola's Pizza
Dave Cozzola opened his incredible pizza restaurant in 1987. While the original store in Old Town is now closed, there is another at 1112 Oakridge Drive. Cozzola's Pizza was a real treat. Fresh made, braided crust, and superior ingredients won this pizzeria recognition year after year as the 'Best Pizza in Fort Collins'. Dave Cozzola was a customer at my Dad's barbershop for years, so my family got super acquainted with his restaurant just down the road from my Dad's shop. 

Sox and Cubs Pizza & Subs
I remember stopping in at this place near the indoor flea markets on North College Ave., when I felt like a thick and chewy slice of pizza. They had a spicy pizza on their menu that I really loved. The restaurant felt like it was owned by baseball fanatics (Chicago fans of course) and sports decor reflecting this was everywhere throughout the establishment. 

I remember them often hosting Strat-O-Matic tournaments in the restaurant. Strat-O-Matic was/is a table top baseball simulation board game that you can play by yourself or with others. The restaurant would be full of hobbyists participating in tournaments. My brother was a huge fan of this game growing up, so I always enjoyed peeking in on the fun, as the enthusiasts had their showdowns. 

Godfather's Pizza
If you loved massive amounts of cheese on your pizza, Godfather's was the place for you. The commercials I remember seeing in the 80s boasted about their five pound pizzas with one full pound of cheese. The original location we used to frequent was in the Foothills plaza, across the parking lot from the old Foothills Fashion Mall, not too far from the old 'Foothills Twin' movie theater. Years later in the 90s, another store was opened on Lemay Avenue by Albertson's. That store featured a lunch buffet and while the pizza was decent, corporate rebranding had greatly changed the style of pizzas they were known for back in the 80s.

That's all I can remember for now, but will definitely update this list if more pizza places come to mind. There are definitely a few more I'm foggy on, so maybe I just need a reminder. Fort Collins has always felt like a revolving door for restaurants, so I'm sure I've missed a few places up and above the ones I mentioned.

If you can think of any pizzerias that were open between the years of 1980 and 1990 that are not listed here, feel free to comment below and help jog my memory. Thanks!