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News / Business / Clark County Business

Pied Piper Pizza in Orchards seeks new ownership

Longtime owners say they’re hoping they can retire soon

By Anthony Macuk, Columbian business reporter
Published: April 10, 2019, 6:00am
3 Photos
Pied Piper Pizza on Fourth Plain Boulevard in Orchards has been listed for sale. The owners have operated the pizza parlor since 1968 and say they’re getting ready to retire.
Pied Piper Pizza on Fourth Plain Boulevard in Orchards has been listed for sale. The owners have operated the pizza parlor since 1968 and say they’re getting ready to retire. Amanda Cowan/The Columbian Photo Gallery

The owners of a more than 50-year-old Vancouver pizza restaurant are hoping to sell the business and retire, but they want to make sure Pied Piper Pizza sticks around.

According to Pied Piper Pizza co-owners Ray and Cheryl Eggert, Pied Piper was recently relisted but has actually been on the market for about two years. The husband and wife team have jointly owned and operated the restaurant for more than five decades, and they’re both now in their 70s and hoping to retire.

“This is our 51st year in business,” Cheryl Eggert says. “We started in 1968.”

The Eggerts had previous experience in the industry and wanted to own their own restaurant, she says, so in 1968 they bought a restaurant on Mill Plain Boulevard in central Vancouver called Pizza Palace, which had been put up for sale just a few months after it first opened.

“We didn’t know that the odds were against us, because restaurants usually don’t last this long,” she says.

But the future Pied Piper restaurant beat the odds and became a community gathering point. The current building near the edge of Orchards has three banquet rooms, and is a frequent destination for meetings, youth sports teams and community events.

For more than three decades, the restaurant has hosted an annual Father’s Day “cruise-in” event for classic cars as an American Cancer Society Relay for Life fund-raiser. The event isn’t tied to any particular auto club or organization, Ray Eggert says — he’s just an enthusiast for classic cars.

The business has been through two moves and a name change since 1968. The Eggerts moved the pizza parlor from Mill Plain Boulevard to a location in Orchards in 1972, across the street from the current location. The restaurant moved to its present building after it finished construction in 1987, according to Ray Eggert.

“Each building was a little bit bigger than the last,” Cheryl Eggert says.

The Eggerts’ Pizza Palace was one of three independently owned pizza restaurants in the Vancouver area that all shared the same name, so in 1991 they decided to change the name to differentiate themselves, and Cheryl Eggert chose the name Pied Piper Pizza.

The restaurant made local headlines in 1995 when Ray Eggert campaigned to loosen the licensing rules for broadcasts shown on restaurant TVs, sparking a debate in the state Senate.

U.S. copyright law requires businesses to pay royalty fees for broadcast music and videos shown on their TVs, but it includes an exemption for businesses that only have a common household TV setup. At the time, that exemption was defined as a single TV with a screen diameter no larger than 36 inches.

Pied Piper Pizza had a 42-inch TV, and in 1992 the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers came knocking to demand royalty fees. Ray Eggert’s short-term solution was to tack triangular wooden boards onto the corner of his TV, shrinking the visible portion to 36 inches.

But he also took his complaint to the Legislature, eventually prompting then-Sen. Dean Sutherland, D-Vancouver, to introduce a bill to change the rules.

“They just hadn’t caught up with the technology at that point,” Ray Eggert says.

Eggert and other restaurant owners testified in support of the bill at a hearing before the Senate Energy, Telecommunications and Utilities Committee, while several music artists and lawyers from publishing groups flew in from as far away as New York to testify in opposition, according to a Columbian story at the time.

The bill died in committee, according to state records, but Eggert and other small-restaurant owners did eventually get what they were after — the 1998 federal copyright extension act changed the exemption criteria to include up to four 55-inch TVs.

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Cheryl Eggert says she and Ray want to see the business continue and will be happy to assist the eventual buyer with the transition. In fact, she says they hope to continue to work at the restaurant in a part-time capacity.

They haven’t found a buyer yet, but the Eggerts say they’re willing to stick with it until the right person comes along.

“It’s been a real experience,” Ray Eggert says. “For the most part it’s been a lot of fun. But I’ll be 76 in August, and we’re getting tired.”

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Columbian business reporter