St. Paul pizza fans will be singing bye, bye Red’s Savoy pie.
The original Red’s Savoy Pizza location, an institution on the east side of St. Paul’s downtown, will be closing next month, according to a company spokesman. The 14 other Red’s Savoy locations will continue to operate using the restaurant’s proprietary secret sauce and sausage recipe.
But the mothership — a cult favorite for a legion East Metro devotees of old-school, thin-crust pizza for more than 50 years — will be baking its last pie on Sept. 16.
The announcement of the closing comes in the wake of the death of the restaurant’s founder, Earl “Red” Schoenheider on Aug. 21 at the age of 82.
Company spokesman Reed Daniels, a co-owner of the Edina Red’s Savoy location, said the restaurant doesn’t own the building at its original location at 421 E. 7th St. The decision to close the location was influenced by the “six-figure” cost of renovations needed to make the building ADA compliant, he said.
“It’s a sad time for us,” Daniels said. “We lost Red. He’s a larger than life man.”
Schoenheider, who grew up on St. Paul’s East Side, originally was a bartender and bouncer at the Savoy Inn in the early 1960s, and later ended up buying the tavern and an adjoining pizza place and combining the two into a restaurant. Starting in 1965, he perfected a pizza with a spicy sauce and his own sausage recipe.
Generous toppings and a crust that’s a balance between crispy and chewy, all served on a plastic school cafeteria tray also define the Red’s Savoy pizza, according to Daniels.
According to his obituary, Schoenheider rarely left the borders of St. Paul, never traveled outside of the United State and worked at the restaurant seven days a week, 365 days a year.
“People have babies. This was his baby. This was his labor of love,” Daniels said.
The Savoy Inn was renamed Red’s Savoy Pizza, and other branches of the restaurant started opening in the 2000s, including another St. Paul location owned by Red’s son, Rory Schoenheider, at 520 White Bear Ave. N.
But none are likely to have the same dark, dive bar feel of the original location.
“People have a ton of memories,” Daniels said. “That location is special.”
The original Red’s Savoy will be closed on Labor Day, and then will be open from 4 to 10 p.m. from Sept. 5-16, Daniels said. He said many former employees and pizza cooks will be returning to the restaurant during the last two weeks.