Recently, the Spring Valley Chamber of Commerce hosted a ribbon cutting for The Pizza Place.  From left are Linda Bennett, Tim Howard, Steve Sharp, Kaelynn, Joleen Rollie holding Kendyl, Daryl Boettcher, Ann Keim and Andrea Hindt.
Recently, the Spring Valley Chamber of Commerce hosted a ribbon cutting for The Pizza Place. From left are Linda Bennett, Tim Howard, Steve Sharp, Kaelynn, Joleen Rollie holding Kendyl, Daryl Boettcher, Ann Keim and Andrea Hindt.
The pizza made sense, so they ran with it.

"We would've called it 'Steve and Tim's Pizza,' but everybody always said, 'Let's go to the pizza place,' so even though that's not so original, it made sense. That's what everybody calls it," said The Pizza Place co-proprietor Tim Howard, who has re-opened the former HomeStyle Pizza as The Pizza Place, bringing the original piping hot crust and pizza sauce back to the Spring Valley downtown pizzeria, to the delight of local diners.

He related why he and former HomeStyle Pizza manager Jolene Rollie, his girlfriend, chose to take on the project with longtime family friend, loyal HomeStyle customer and Rochester resident Steve Sharp's financial backing.

"One of the biggest things for us in re-opening is that the employees have their jobs back and we give the town the pizza place it needed. It's been a good two years since we talked about buying it, and when we found out it was more promising, that we actually had a chance of getting it, we were ready to do it," said Howard. "There were a lot of ups and downs, but it wouldn't have been possible to do without Jolene and the former staff, like Matt Rowe, Aaron and Austin Kuno, Greg Rasmussen...they pretty much ran it before. They're awesome."

Rollie had witnessed the number of people who were disappointed that HomeStyle would be no longer, according to Howard, who noted that their disappointment at its closing and unequalled excitement at the establishment's reinstatement have been extremely encouraging.

"Honestly, I've had people ask me five to six times a day if or when we'd be opening," added Howard. "I knew it was good feedback from the town."

The new proprietors have made some improvements to the building, including putting in a new kitchen floor, refinishing the hardwood floors and adding televisions to the dining rooms. They're hoping that their application for the downtown revitalization funds comes through, because they'd like to put in new windows in the front, fix the roof, and do some building maintenance to make it more efficient.

The new owners would appreciate donations or copies of more vintage Spring Valley photographs or artifacts that might be of interest to diners. "A lot of people have told me where the pictures were taken, and this used to be Dystel's Funeral Home and Furniture Store, and then it was a furniture store, and then it was a lot of other things, then HomeStyle. We've done some painting and are looking to collect old Spring Valley pictures."

The color of the dining room walls may have changed, but the pizza recipe hasn't changed a bit because demand for it was so great - people who had been missing their chicken ranch, taco, Hawaiian, Southwest or barbecue pizzas won't be left out in the cold.

"The pizza recipe is the old one, the one we used anyway. We didn't feel a need to change it because we'd tried six different sauces and crusts...my aunts and uncles helped with the remodeling, and one night we made six different pizzas and sauces, and everybody chose the old recipe, so that's what we stayed with," explained Howard. "We've added some wraps and we offer a hand-tossed crust that's been very popular and recommended. It's also one of my favorites, and we did add two kinds of beer and a malt liquor. We're going to start offering specials, and the buffet is during lunch from 11 in the morning until 2 in the afternoon. We're also thinking about a Sunday pizza buffet."

Rollie has observed how many people are dining in instead of having their dinner delivered. They also noted that they have seen people they haven't seen since HomeStyle closed.

Howard noted that 10 years ago, "I would never have seen myself owning a pizza restaurant. I think it helps when the town knows who owns a place, and we want to have a clean place with a family atmosphere." The "family atmosphere" begins with the Howard-Rollie family. Howard and Rollie graduated from Kingsland High School in 2003, and Rollie began working at HomeStyle when it was located on Highway 63, in the former Spring Valley Liquor Store building, and Howard has farmed 140 acres around his mother's house since 2005 and also works at Spring Valley Public Utilities. In fact, Rollie and Howard's daughters, Kayla, 5, and Kendall, 1, will eventually grow up at The Pizza Place.

"Another reason we bought it is because we have nephews and nieces who work here - we already have three family members working here," said Howard. "We plan to be here a long time. The whole staff here has been great. Everybody works together."

Howard hopes that taking hot pizza pies out of his ovens will encourage business in downtown Spring Valley.

"It's great that there's a lot of new businesses downtown, and we're picking up a lot of new customers because of it. We hope to help other businesses pick up new customers, too. We hope to bring business to every other business downtown. It's exciting...the more, the merrier." He concluded, "We'd like to thank the town of Spring Valley for everything it's done for us. It's been super. The first day we opened, we were overwhelmed. There were lots of people waiting a long time, but they were very understanding. Everybody in town has been really good, we've had a lot of compliments, about the building and the pizza, so we must've done something right."

The Pizza Place is open Monday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., and free delivery is available on $10 minimum orders in Spring Valley. Delivery outside Spring Valley, within seven miles, is available for a $2 charge. For more information, call (507) 346-1040 or log onto The Pizza Place's Facebook page.