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Pepi's pizza, chicken and subs kept kids coming back for more

Pepi's Pizza on Main Street in Galt is long gone, but this teen hangout is remembered by many, writes Wayne Conrad Serbu
Pepi's Pizza on Main Street in Galt in the late '60s.

Sports was huge in Hespeler, Galt and Preston back in the 1960s.

When most of us were back in class at GCI, Southwood, Gleview Park and Preston High, going to football or baseball games was a popular way to spend time with friends.

There were also great intercity and industrial fast pitch leagues like the Galt Terriers, Slee's or Gore Insurance at Dickson, Riverside or Lincoln parks.

All the area's sports game stats and news would be printed in the Evening Reporter the next day by Carl Fletcher and Don Forsyhe.

After these games, we would pile into Chuck Hewitt's old Ford and head out to Brownies or the Log Cabin drive-ins, then head downtown to end the evening driving the Queen's Square loop a few times, then hang out at Pepi's Pizza. 

Experiencing a Pepi's perfect hand-tossed pepperoni mushroom pizza for the first time was pure bliss. 

I soon got to know and like Wallace “Spud” Bush, the owner operator of the Pepi’s Pizza store on Main Street in Galt.

I once asked Spud where he first tried pizza and he replied Chicago, in the '50s.

Spud had quite a baseball pitching and coaching career playing and coaching in several different leagues. He liked all kinds of sports and shared great stories about his experiences in answer to the game questions we usually had since many of us played back then.

Spud was like our own personal coach and father figure. His friendly smile and sense of humour at the counter included sports banter and advice. 

Some of you might have also known or worked with Spud at Pepi's and still hold fond memories.

It wasn't that long before Spud invited me behind the counter to watch and learn how pizza was made from scratch and at 14 years old offered me a part time job.

I ran the mixer and would handle 60 pounds of pizza dough, cutting and weighing out into small, medium or large size portions for a regular day's sales.

I soon had the dough recipe down and that great tasting pizza sauce recipe well rehearsed.

Spud would only use the best Schneider's bacon, hams, pepperoni cheese blends of mozzarella and brick that I sliced and shredded. The vegetable toppings came from local farms like Jack Quinlan's in Millgrove.


I sliced and diced my way through all the prep work, learning to pressure broast fried chicken and how to assemble a good submarine. I loved the Henny Penny broasted chicken and that most delicious creamy coleslaw that I still use as my signature dressing.

Soon enough, other pizza stores were starting to appear; Luigi's on Water Street and Leo Carnavelle's on Ainslie.

Each pizza had its maker's signature crust, sauce and toppings.

I was making pizza like a seasoned pro and early in my cooking career worked at several restaurants serving pizza from coast to coast. Pizza would have a spot on many of my menus over the years. 

Pizza hits the hunger spot like nothing else.

These days, waiting for your favourite pie to be delivered can be expensive and isn't always available with the freshest ingredients you want.

That's why I always keep enough ingredients around the fridge and pantry to make a pie.

I make this dough in a batch and vac seal it, making it usable for a few weeks.

Thick or thin the choice depends on what goes on top.

Roasted veggies take less time and the moisture in toppings like pineapple, mushrooms or tomatoes means it needs plenty of time to cook. I also aerate the crust to let the oils from the cheese and meats flavour the crust and bake evenly with a nice texture.


Here is that easy Pizza Dough recipe!

You will need:

2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast

1 1/3 cups warm water

3 3/4 cups unbleached hard flour or whole wheat

1 tbs. fresh olive oil

1 tbs. sea salt

1 tbs. sugar for Chicago style puffy crust

Combine the yeast and the warm water in a large bowl.

Let stand for 5 – 10 minutes until yeast is dissolved and is starting to foam up.

Mix in the rest of the ingredients.

Mix until it’s all holding together.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 8-9 minutes.

The dough should be smooth and elastic, tacky, not sticky!

Transfer it over to a bowl with the olive oil and turn the dough over to coat completely.

Cover with a clean and floured cotton dish towel and let rise close to the oven until It's about doubled in volume.

Punch the dough down and divide it in half.

Roll your dough into a ball and let it rest, covered, for about 10-15 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 470F. Dust your baking stone or baking sheet with cornmeal which is important to do this for a crispier crust.

Now roll it out flat. Shape and load with your favourite toppings.

Bake until the edges turn golden, about 7 to 10 minutes. Pierce the dough bubbles if required.

Try this on a stone in your oven or BBQ. The best toppings are the ones you like best so Let's Eat! 

Chef Wayne Conrad Serbu writes monthly for CambridgeToday. The former executive chef also shares recipes and memories from his more than five decades in the hospitality industry on his blog, the kitchenman.