Tuesday, Nov 12 2013 06:00 AM

Then & Now: Pizza, dollar stores and more

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Claudia Elliott

Elsewhere in this week's edition you'll find a brief story reporting that Pizza Hut is expected to open in Tehachapi. And just after we sent that page off to be printed we heard from Pizza Hut's spokeperson that indeed they will be opening (Dec. 23) on Tucker Road between Albertson's and Baskin Robbins. Like Hungry Howie's, Little Caesar's and Domino's, the Tehachapi Pizza Hut will be carry-out and delivery.

That started me thinking back to when Tehachapi got its first "pizza parlor" that I know of, somewhere around 1979 or 1980 if I recall correctly.

Previously, some will remember, the "mall" had opened in California City with a movie theater (this was after the Beekay closed) and a pizza place and many a Tehachapi family made the trek to that desert community for pizza and a movie. It was quite a treat and easier than going to Bakersfield or Lancaster.

Then we got our own pizza place -- Old Towne Pizza -- located at the time in a space in the Old Towne Center (I think about where Tehachapi Furniture just relocated, but I might be wrong). Now, of course, Old Towne Pizza is located north of Valley Boulevard a little to the west of its original location.

One of the fun things I remember about the original Old Towne Pizza is that students from Honey Tree Preschool (now gone, I'm sad to say) got to go there to make their own pizzas. What great memories for those kids, my daughters included.

Of course, you can get pizza a lot of places now -- Old Towne Pizza, TK's, Pacino's, Johnny's Take-n-Bake and the 58 restaurant come to mind, in addition to the chain locations (hope I didn't leave anyone out). And like the city folks, we can even call for delivery.

Tehachapi has the best of both worlds -- choices of local, home-grown restaurants and an ever-increasing line-up of chains. Will our local restaurants survive? My guess is that those who work to provide consistent quality and service and reach out to remind people that they're open, will thrive.

In the end, it's consumers who will vote -- with their pocketbooks. Remembering a time when we hade to drive 30-plus miles or more to get a pizza, I must admit I'm amazed at the options available now and have to wonder how much pizza Tehachapi can eat.

Of course, Pizza Hut is only one of a number of "brand name" shops opening here. Dollar General has been given a bad rap for building next to the Dollar Tree (and down the street from Family Dollar). But I'm told that Dollar General Market (like Family Dollar) is not a "dollar" store, they've just found that people respond well to the idea of "dollar" as an indicator of value.

Expect more chain operations on the scene. Tehachapi is ever-changing (as it always has been) and these new businesses are an indication that the sluggish economy is coming back to life.

I'm reminded, often, of the song lyrics, "something's lost and something's gained in living every day," and truly thankful that we don't have to drive to Cal City to get pizza anymore!

CLAUDIA ELLIOTT is editor of the Tehachapi News. Send email to: celliott@tehachapinews.com or call 823-6360.

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