If you’ve ever heard ragtime piano music and the first thing you think of is pizza, you are likely one of the millions that has dined at Shakey’s Pizza. Perhaps you celebrated a birthday there, or met with your Little League team, or maybe your family just wanted an inexpensive way to avoid cooking dinner for the evening. Whatever the reason, a friendly straw hat-wearing employee stood ready to dish out the goods.
The first Shakey’s opened in Sacramento, California in 1954, thanks to two entrepreneurs, Ed Plummer and Sherwood “Shakey” Johnson (whose nickname came from nerve damage he received in WWII). It holds the distinction of being the first franchised pizza parlor.
Johnson, a musician and lover of Dixieland jazz would entertain his guests regularly on piano or banjo. For customers who weren’t privy to this personal touch, most Shakey’s were eventually equipped with player pianos that could belt out a few tunes from Scott Joplin for a mere quarter.