Sadly, this restaurant has closed.
Lou’s Pizza Pie
2158 Young Avenue
A couple of weeks ago, my roller derby team had a meeting at Lou’s Pizza Pie in Cooper-Young. Unfortunately, I missed the dinner portion of the meeting, but I was impressed by the bulletin board full of pictures colored by kids and the sign that read, “Kids Pizza Cooking Class, First Saturday of Each Month*.” So, a few days later when Warren’s dodgeball team had a big break between games, I decided to take the monkeys (Satchel, 5, and Jiro, 3) for a slice of pizza.
We walked up to the door around 8pm on a Wednesday night and stared inside. The sign read “Closed” but there were a couple of people sitting inside staring back at us. I looked at the door to try and determine the hours of operation**, but they were complex enough that I was waved in before actually figuring out if Lou's was open. (It certainly seemed like it should be open at 8pm on a Wednesday!) Once inside, the one patron, Lou, and another man all kind of giggled as though I didn’t know how to open a door.
“It says ‘Closed,’” I remarked and Lou quickly ran over to the door to flip the sign.
I hadn't expected the restaurant to be so empty, but maybe it was because of the "Closed" sign. (I did just read on Lou's website that he is going to start selling beer and wine and get a few TVs in the near future--so maybe the deadness had more to do with those things.)
I walked up to the counter and perused a menu. The monkeys inexplicably sat quietly at a nearby table and waited for me to place our order. Satchel had already requested a slice of pepperoni, but Jiro was insisting that he wasn’t hungry. I scanned the menu, trying to find something that he might like. “How about some cheese sticks?” I asked.
He nodded in approval.
I wasn’t sure what I wanted, so just instinctively ordered a slice of pepperoni. Then I added a spinach salad. And then a Planet X (Roasted Eggplant, roasted red peppers, feta, and pestomayo) to take to Warren. In the drink department, I got a round of waters and a Sprite for Jiro, which came in a can.
The monkeys were now feeling less shy and came to hang on my legs as I paid our tab. I looked around the brightly lit restaurant in search of the coloring pages I had noticed on my last visit. “Do you have anything they can color?” I asked Lou.
Lou in turn looked at a man sitting at a table reading the paper (who I eventually began to think was his son or someone who helps him out with technical things) and asked, “When are you going to bring some more coloring pages?”
His “son” just nodded, said, “Soon,” and went back to what he was doing.
Lou replied, “We don’t have any right now,” and then handed me my bill: $27.45. Yikes! I wasn’t expecting that. Then, flummoxed, I stared at the tip line. Even though I had some cash that I could have thrown into the tip jar, I wrote down $5.00, which brought my total to $32.45, way more than I had anticipated paying.
I detached the monkeys from my legs and redirected them to a table. Then I walked down the hallway near the restrooms to see if there was a Jabber Blabber or anything that might keep the monkeys entertained. That’s when I eyed a plastic tote. I opened it and was happy to find a few toys and a coloring book. I grabbed the coloring book and asked Lou where I could find some crayons.
“What?” he said.
“Crayons,” I said a little louder.
“What?” he said.
“CRAYONS,” I said a little louder while pointing to the coloring book.
“Oh!” he said as he went behind the counter and reappeared with a plastic container of colored pencils.
Inexplicably, the monkeys were actually interested in coloring the bunnies and frogs and other things in the somewhat babyish coloring book. I tore out a few pages for them and helped sharpen a few pencils.
Lou came over with our waters. There were three Styrofoam cups with no lids and no ice. Two of them, for the monkeys I presume, were filled only halfway. Uh, okay. I thought this was “cute,” but a disaster waiting to happen.
“Do you have any lids?” I asked Lou.
“What?” he said.
“LIDS,” I said pointing to the cups.
“Oh!” he said as he disappeared behind the counter and brought out some lids.
“STRAWS?” I asked (while pointing) before he came all the way back to our table.
Once I got the water situation under control, a woman brought out my spinach salad on a Styrofoam plate. The monkeys were happily coloring and chatting with each other and having a lovely time. “Want some salad?” I asked.
Satchel licked his lips and reached for a hunk of goat cheese. He chewed it for a second and then spit it into his had. “Ew, it’s too creamy!” he said.
“Yeah, it isn’t the cheese (feta) that we use at home,” I replied. “How about a crouton?”
He reached for one and popped it in his mouth. Then he started laughing. “This crouton tastes funny too!”
I ate one and quickly realized it had been refrigerated or something, causing it to lose all of its crunch. Fortunately, I like goat cheese and found the remainder of the salad (spinach leaves, walnuts, and vinaigrette) to be tasty. (It was a pretty hearty portion, but I think $6.00 is a bit steep.)
Meanwhile, the only other patron in the store received his dinner—a large pizza, half something and half something else. Lou was very clear about showing the customer which half was which. Satchel looked over and said, “Dang! That’s a lot of pizza!”
“Yep,” I said, wishing I had ordered a whole pizza instead of two $3.00 slices and a $6.00 order of cheese sticks.
“Is he going to eat ALL of that?” Satchel asked as the dude picked up his first slice.
“Let’s wait and see,” I said.
“Where’s my pizza?” he asked.
“It’s coming,” I said.
This whole time, Jiro was just coloring quietly, acting like a perfect angel. I started to feel like I was in the Twilight Zone.
“I need to go potty!” Satchel burst out, bringing me back to reality.
Satchel and I walked down the hallway to the men’s room. It was a one seater so I went in to get a peek.
“Honey, please don’t touch anything,” I said horrified as I looked around at what was a really sad sack of a bathroom.
Satchel did as instructed and we returned to the table unscathed.
Lou soon brought out our pizza and cheese sticks—each on a Styrofoam plate. The pizza pretty much looked like I remembered from the Pie in the Sky days—not much cheese and only streaks of sauce. Since we were in the Twilight Zone, Satchel said nothing about the fact that he could see the sauce and commenced eating.
“And the cheese sticks are for her?” Lou asked pointing at Jiro.
“Yes,” I said amazed that anyone could think Jiro is a girl. (This was actually the second time in a few days—must be time for a haircut.) Somehow neither Satchel nor Jiro caught Lou’s mistake and I was happy to let it slide.
Jiro’s cheese sticks were not deep fried mozzarella sticks as I had expected, but rather a slice of cheese pizza, minus the sauce with maybe a little extra cheese, cut into strips and served with a side of cold, tasteless sauce. Again, thanks to the Twilight Zone, Jiro ate a strip without complaining and then even offered one to his brother, who happily ate it.
As I ate my slice of pepperoni, I tried not to think about the fact that a slice of cheese pizza costs $2.50, but a slice of cheese pizza cut into strips with the sauce (or honey) served on the side costs $6.00 ($5.95).
Lou was talking with his “son” about the upcoming “All You Can Eat” pizza night ($20) that would include a live band. He seemed very excited about it and tried to get me excited about it as well since I could obviously hear everything they were saying.
The other customer, who had now eaten half of his pizza, requested a to-go box. Satchel looked at me smugly and said, “I knew he couldn’t eat all that!”
This reminded me about Warren’s sandwich, which came out a few minutes later (in a Styrofoam box). I peeked in and it looked pretty tasty, so I was at least happy that Warren’s meal might be exciting. (He later reported that it was good, but a little bland.)
I tried to fit the rest of my salad in the to-go box for him, but there was no room. I was forced to request yet another Styrofoam container. Jiro informed me that he wanted to take his 3 remaining cheese sticks home, so I put Satchel’s empty plate on top of Jiro’s to create a makeshift box. I packed the two boxes and one makeshift box into the little reusable bag I keep in my purse and reminded myself that change does not happen overnight.
“You guys ready to go?” I asked the monkeys, who were still happily coloring.
“Not yet!” they both said. “We want to color more!”
Since we still had 30 minutes until Warren’s next game, I acquiesced.
Lou looked over and for the first time in Dining with Monkeys history said, “They sure are well behaved!”
I smiled, laughing oh so hard on the inside, and then inexplicably asked Lou how much the t-shirts with the peace sign pizza on them were.
“$10.00,” he said.
Who can resist a shirt that says, “We'll never tell you to shut your pie hole” on it?
Not me apparently…even when Lou told me he didn’t have the size I wanted.
What was with me? Our total tally, including M&Ms, was now $43.00. I can only say that despite the mediocre food, high prices, and dirty restrooms, there's just something about Lou's. I felt it and so did the monkeys apparently. I keep thinking about my friend Maggie's review of Lou's in the Lamplighter that was titled, "I'm in the mood for weird." She was right on.
I can see us going back. Next time I'll order a whole pizza, or a milkshake. And maybe see if Lou can teach the monkeys to throw some dough up into the air. (If you go before I do, tell Lou to get some real plates or at least switch to paper.)
*Kids pizza cooking classes are the first Saturday of each month from 1-4pm. They are free for up to two children per family per hour when the parents purchase a large pizza (which range in price from $14 to $26). Call one week ahead to reserve a spot. I highly recommend the class!
**Sunday-Tuesday 5-10pm, Wednesday-Friday 11m-2pm, 5-10pm, Saturday noon-10pm