Tuesday, December 6, 2022
Dec. 6, 2022

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East Vancouver’s Pied Piper Pizza plays a new verse

New owners carry on tradition of fun and games at neighborhood pizza restaurant

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Kelsey Hood of Pied Piper Pizza, left, takes a call as assistant manager Misty Sadlier serves up fresh pizza on Thursday afternoon.
Kelsey Hood of Pied Piper Pizza, left, takes a call as assistant manager Misty Sadlier serves up fresh pizza on Thursday afternoon. (Photos by Amanda Cowan/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

After 50-plus years of providing Vancouverites a place to eat pizza, play video games and celebrate in their banquet rooms, Ray and Cheryl Eggert have sold their business, Pied Piper Pizza.

The new owners, Austin and Devyn Slagle, renovated the space and created a new menu, but they plan on continuing to fulfill the Eggerts’ commitment to providing a fun space for the community to gather.

Ray and Cheryl Eggert opened the original Pied Piper Pizza, called the Pizza Palace, in 1968 in central Vancouver. They moved their business to Orchards in 1972 and then across the street to its current location, 12300 N.E. Fourth Plain Blvd., in 1987. In 2017, they wanted to sell the pizza place so they could retire. At the end of last year, the Eggerts found the new owners right next door.

Austin and Devyn Slagle own Dev’s Coffee Bar — the coffee truck parked next door to Pied Piper Pizza. When the Slagles opened their coffee truck, they invested all of their money to start the business. The Eggerts helped them with water and garbage bills so they could continue and grow. Dev’s Coffee Bar flourished during the COVID-19 pandemic. When the Eggerts mentioned that they would like to sell the business, the Slagles began to consider taking over the pizza spot that they fondly remembered visiting while growing up in Vancouver.

Change is hard. Many of Pied Piper’s longtime customers have taken to social media to decry the new Pied Piper Pizza.

“It’s interesting to watch. It’s making me realize how hard it is for people to go through this change,” Austin Slagle said. “I wanted to attract a new crowd of people who tried Pied Piper and didn’t like it but keep the old customer base. That’s why we kept some of the old menu. We changed it so we could keep it alive for another 50 years.”

The business temporarily closed May 5. For two weeks, the Slagles and their crew renovated the entire space on a shoestring budget by doing most of the work themselves.

“I have a passion for woodworking and building,” Austin Slagle said. He and his team handmade the bar and 50 tables. The new interior’s style is a mix between modern and Pacific Northwest, with colorful LED lights that pay homage to the lights from the video games that animated the space when they were kids. General manager Justin Harris helped create these effects.

“Justin is obsessed with 80s synth stuff. He got really into this. We can change the colors of the lights to set different moods,” Austin Slagle said.

The original kids arcade remains with new games, such as a sit down “Space Invaders.” Pinball machines, pool tables and darts provide entertainment for guests. Pied Piper will host dart and pool tournaments, as well as Pied Piper’s traditional Father’s Day cruise-in event fundraiser for the American Cancer Society.

Pied Piper’s new menu boasts odd pizza combinations, such as the peanut butter pickle bacon burger inspired by the Killer Burger classic and bacon mac and cheese, as well as classics, such as pepperoni.

“We still offer almost all of the old pizzas,” Austin Slagle said. “We will make anything. You don’t need to order off the menu, we’ll create whatever you like.”

The new owners have worked on a new fermented crust that Austin Slagle compares with the Blind Onion, but customers can order pizzas with the crust traditionally served at Pied Piper. An extensive list of locally brewed craft beer and cocktails will be served when the restaurant’s new liquor license is approved.

Despite all of these changes, the Eggerts are still around. Cheryl Eggert works at Pied Piper on weekends. Her daughters, Dawn and Megan, work at the business and her son, Darren, is the resident dough-maker or dough beast.

“Our goal is to create excitement for everyone that reinvents what you had as a kid but can enjoy as an adult. We also want to attract new customers such as kids and young adults. Like Ray and Cheryl, we want to build our business based on community,” Austin Slagle said.

Pied Piper Pizza is open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday to Thursday and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. For more information, visit the restaurant’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/PiedPiperPizzaVancouverWashington.