Bill’s Pizza Shop Part II: Bill’s Debuts
By Wendell Nelson
In July of 1958, after having housed a shoe store, a fur-coat company, and a retail-bakery outlet, the building at 112 South 3rd Street in Stevens Point, was remodeled to accommodate a pizza restaurant. The pizza shop was the last occupant before the building was destroyed in 1991-1993 to make way for the third Portage County Public Library building.
The July 3, 1958, Daily Journal announced the birth of Bill’s Pizza Shop, 60 years ago.
“BILL’S PIZZA SHOP OPEN FOR BUSINESS. Bill’s Pizza Shop, operated by William Podoll, has been opened for business at 112 Water St., the former location of the South Side Bakery’s retail outlet.
“Podoll, former operator of the Pizza Place at Menasha, has moved here with his wife and six-year-old daughter residing in quarters above the new shop.
“The business will be open from 4 p.m until 2 a.m. daily, Podoll said, with accommodations for about 55 people. A complete menu of Italian foods is offered with pizza as the special feature.”
William and Mary Jane Podoll apparently rented the building at 112 Water Street for the first year and a half after they ran the pizza restaurant in it. The deed recording their purchase of the property (Volume 221, page 376) is dated February 24, 1960. (The transfer fee was $16.50, which means that the Podolls paid the Mocadlos $1650.00 for the building and lot.)
Mary Ann Laszewski, a long-time resident of Stevens Point, remembers going to Bill’s Pizza Shop on 3rd or Water Street after high-school games and dances. She recalls it as having no booths but many round tables, which were perfect for the teenagers to circulate, excitedly moving from table to table to talk and laugh with their classmates and friends.
Patricia Boylan, Catalogue Librarian at the Portage County Public Library for over 40 years, recalled she smoked her “first public cigarette” at the Third Street Bill’s Pizza Shop, in about 1960.
Of course, like any business, Bill’s had its difficulties with troublemakers. In 1973, the July 20 Daily Journal reported, a man was “fined $50 and $10 costs” for “raising a commotion by trying to buy a pizza for 47 cents” at Bill’s. In 1975, an employee trying to deliver a pizza was “struck in the face four times, verbally abused, and falsely accused…of returning insufficient change” to a customer.
The customer was found guilty of battery, and fined $150 and $10 costs, according to the March 11 Daily Journal. And n 1977, a Bill’s employee trying to deliver a pizza to the Holiday Inn at 11:00 p.m. one Wednesday night, returned to his vehicle to find two tires flattened by the removal of the valve stems. “Police said the pizza order was a hoax and two subjects were seen running from the vehicle,” the December 22 Daily Journal reported.
While he owned and operated the pizza shop, Bill Podoll was very active in Stevens Point community affairs. “He was a member of the Stevens Point Elks Club, and the Stevens Point Optimist Club, where he served as past president and state lieutenant governor,” his obituary in the November 15, 1994, Stevens Point Journal said.
Podoll’s younger daughter, Susan—later Susan Van Dreser, an award-winning longtime teacher in Stevens Point’s Washington Elementary School—became very active in the Optimist Club. Following in her father’s—and her husband Jann Van Dreser’s—footsteps, she served as “district governor for Wisconsin North-Upper Michigan, or WINUM, District of Optimist International,” according to the Journal of September 1, 2011. At that time, she was a member of the Stevens Point/Plover Breakfast Optimist Club, the paper said.
William Podoll was also active in the city’s bowling leagues. As early as October of 1958, only months after he opened his pizza shop, Podoll began sponsoring—and playing on–a team, the Daily Journal of October 25 showed. The edition of December 3, 1965, credited him with the “top single game on local lanes…in the South Side City League at Skipp’s Center.” His score was 257; a perfect game, as most people know, is 300 pins knocked down.
And William Podoll made at least one run for public office. According to the January 25,
1972, Daily Journal, he ran for a seat on the Stevens Point Common Council from the 6th Ward (his home at that time was at 3240 Delaney Street). He ran against three other candidates, the newspaper said, but lost, though coming in second in total votes, the April 5 Daily Journal reported.
The Podolls operated the pizza shop until 1985, when they sold it to Richard and Sandra Boldt. (Richard Boldt was Mary Jane Podoll’s brother.) Portage County Book of Mortgages Volume 463, page 418 (dated June 18, 1985), recorded a mortgage between Richard D.and Sandra Boldt, as parties of the first part, and William Podoll as party of the second part. This document stipulated that the Boldts had purchased the Bill’s Pizza Shop business for $34,000. Then, Book of Mortgages Volume 484, page 525 (dated November 12, 1986), recorded a satisfaction (repayment) of that mortgage in full.
Three years after purchasing the business, the Boldts moved it to 1101(old number: 437) Main Street, the former site of Seifert’s women’s clothing store. (Seifert’s had just moved to the two-year-old CenterPoint Mall.) Seifert’s had leased the 1101 Main Street store space from descendants of G.F. Andrae (who, as we shall see, built the original brick double-store buildings that housed a succession of businesses, culminating in—so far—in Bill’s Pizza Shop.
After the Boldts moved the Bill’s Pizza Shop business to Main Street, William Podoll sold the building and land at 1319 Water Street to the City of Stevens Point, according to Warranty Deed Volume 528, page 590 (dated December 18, 1989), for $80,000, according to the transfer fee. This purchase by the city was part of the process—though at that early date, it may not have been in city administrators’ thoughts yet—of acquiring land for the new (third) Portage County Public Library, which was constructed at, east of, and south of, the southeast corner of Main and Water streets in 1991-1993.
NEXT: The history of 1101 Main Street, Part I