REEDSVILLE, W.Va. – The saying goes a name carries a lot of weight and history and that saying could not be more perfect for Old School Pizzeria.
The family-friendly restaurant gets its name from the fact that it’s located in an old Reedsville schoolhouse. The same schoolhouse, in fact, that Owner Rodney Wolfe and some of his family members attended.
“I bought the building to put a community center in for the kids,” Wolfe said. “I was really big into sports, especially basketball, growing up and I wanted to give, you know — I didn’t really have a place to go play, you know, after school. So, I kind of wanted to give that opportunity to the local kids where I’m from and that’s why I, initially, bought the building. Old School Pizzeria and the Victorian Room, which is going to be across the hall, were originally going to be my retirement. “
Wolfe’s retirement plan had to be changed because unfortunately, he had a stroke on June 15, 2019.
That meant what was going to be his retirement plan, now became his “livelihood”.
And what a livelihood he has made.
“To be honest with you, my grandmother had a pizza shop for 25 years,” Wolfe said. “So, basically, I contour the way I make my pizzas, the style that I make my pizzas, how I cut my cheese up to the ovens, to the convection ovens that I use. It’s, basically, a derivative of what my grandmother did in her pizza place. But, everything we do here is homemade from the pizzas to the breadsticks, pepperoni rolls, to the dipping sauces, to the sauce. Everything is homemade, and it’s made right here in this room.”
One of Wolfe’s specialties is even a hoagie recipe his grandmother used to make and sell. It’s called “Goldie’s Sub”.
Wolfe’s grandmother was not his only inspiration to open a pizza shop. His mother also owned a local pizzeria for a few years. And, so did he.
In his early 20s, he owned a pizzeria in the center of the West Virginia University campus. But then, he went off to the corporate world.
“I always knew when I was done with that that I would be back doing the pizza shop the right way,” Wolfe said.
The “right way”, he said is the old school way. The way his grandmother, mother and everyone before them used to do things.
Wolfe takes the “old school” part of his name very seriously. He even has kitchen equipment dating back to the 1800s. And, his customers, seem to love the Old School way of doing things.
What are some of their favorite menu items?
“I would have to say the pepperoni rolls,” Wolfe said. “People come from all over to try the pepperoni rolls. They’ve actually came here and ordered pepperoni rolls and wrote articles. A lady came in with her family and actually wrote an article about the pepperoni rolls while she was here. We serve them with the honey, butter glaze and they’re really good, but I also have to say the pizza as well.”
“Because the crust and the sauce, you know, it does have a slight sweetness to it. It’s a little bit different, but it goes over very well with the customers, so a lot of good responses, a lot of good reviews that people have left. I’d say the pizza and the pepperoni rolls.”
But, just like with his restaurant’s name, the reason people keep coming back to Old School Pizzeria has many explanations.
The primary reason is, obviously, the food. However, so too is Wolfe’s community involvement.
“I try to be very involved,” Wolfe said. “You know, initially, that’s why I bought the building, like I stated, for a community center. And that community center will, still, go in. The pandemic has put a hold on it. The only thing left in the community center is the gymnasium floor. It’s $33,000 for a new floor, so you know, I’m raising money to get the new floor in there and then, I will open that up to the community. But again, it has a lot to do with the pandemic as well, but we do all sorts of community events.”
These events, which are always free include a movie in the front yard area of the old schoolhouse every other Saturday. Folks, Wolfe said, “bring their kids and bring a lawn chair or blanket and layout in the yard out here, and we put the movie on with free popcorn, free drinks, free candy for the kids”.
It also includes a Halloween event and an Easter egg hunt, which are Wolfe’s pride and joy.
“We do an Easter egg hunt every Easter,” Wolfe said. “We put out 1000 eggs. Two years ago, we probably had 300 kids. Didn’t have it the year of the pandemic, and then this past year we had it. We probably had close to 140 kids, but we put out 1000 eggs. We put the coins in the eggs to win a prize and then the bigger prizes we, actually, put what price it is on a piece of paper inside the egg. And then, we have like a gold coin in one of the eggs and that person who gets that was the grand prize.”
“We had people from Walmart, the Dollar Store, the auto parts store in Masontown, the Funeral Home, Mike’s Towing. We had people donate, and there was probably $3000 worth of candy and toys that was given out this past Easter. So, definitely, next Easter, bring all the kids out.”
The COVID-19 pandemic did not only put a damper on Wolfe’s Easter egg hunt but it also affected his business significantly.
He welcomed the public to Old School Pizzeria in Nov. 2019. A few months later, in March, the pandemic hit West Virginia.
Like most restaurants, Wolfe switched to carryout only. He served those meals through a window to customers standing on his restaurant’s deck.
“I feel blessed and blessed by the Good Lord, that that I’ve been able to pull through that,” Wolfe said. “And, it’s starting to go back up. The three months before COVID, we literally had to wait, probably an hour to get — and I had two more tables in here at the time. I kind of spread them out and got rid of some tables since COVID. But, you’d have to wait an hour to get a table every night for dinner, so you know, we really haven’t got that much of a response back inside. It is mostly takeout. But, I do have customers that do come in and eat, but I would like to see people come out more. But with the pandemic, you know, you don’t really know what to expect.”
Wolfe’s motivation to get people back in the restaurant rests on the fact that he has created an environment where he wants people to spend time with their families, friends and loved ones.
He has free pool, arcade games, comfortable seating and an open-concept kitchen where customers can watch their food being made from scratch.
He’s even expanding his menu by adding lasagna, spaghetti and meatballs, as well as more appetizers.
“I offer a lot of free amenities for when people, actually, come in and sit down,” Wolfe said. And, you know, they were really taking advantage of it before COVID. But now, it’s just not really, you know — I’ll get a handful of customers a week to eat inside, but the carryout business is going pretty strong.”
Plus, Wolfe said, if customers come into the restaurant and say they saw and or read about it via 12 News, they will receive 15 percent off their order through Oct. 31.