Vince’s Pizza


Vince’s Pizza was located on Westwood Boulevard about three blocks north of Santa Monica Boulevard. That’s a generic image above, not a photo of an actual Vince’s Pizza. I doubt any memorabilia exists of the place and as you’ll see, I don’t know much about it. It was the place my family got pizza in the sixties and it was pretty good pie. They had a drive-thru window but I don’t recall my father ever actually driving-thru.

Vince’s went away some time in the early seventies, replaced by a drive-thru dry cleaner. Two things did it in. One was a sudden boom in pizza places. Once upon a time, there were so few of them that people actually went to Piece O’ Pizza, which served very poor pizza. For those who knew what pizza could/should be, Vince’s was a godsend. It was the only place to get a quick, good take-out pizza for miles around…and then, one day when there were others, it wasn’t. But there was another, obvious reason for Vince’s success when it was a bustling business establishment.

Located right nearby — at the intersection of Santa Monica and Westwood Boulevards — there were three (at times, four) huge liquor stores. It was like the Liquor Store Capital of the World on those corners…and people sometimes wondered why they were all congregated there. After all, it’s not like one liquor store sells entirely different liquor than another liquor store. Why so many competitors all bunched together?

The answer is that once upon a time, there was a law that prohibited the sale of beer, wine or spirits within a certain distance of the U.C.L.A. campus and therefore the student housing. The intersection of Westwood and Santa Monica was just outside that distance.

Most nights but especially Saturday, those three or four stores were packed with students. If there had been ten stores there, they all would have done good business. And what did all those students do after they’d picked up beer and booze and were headed back to the frat house? They drove through Vince’s and picked up a pile of pizzas!

My parents learned not to brave Vince’s on a Saturday or even a Friday night. Other evenings, if you went early enough, were fine. But one Saturday night I recall, we phoned in to order a pizza that we’d come pick up and the lady on the phone basically told us not to bother. “We’re running at least an hour behind,” she said. “Our ovens can only cook so many pizzas at one time.” We took her advice and went in the other direction for Chinese.

The law forbidding alcohol from being sold closer to campus was repealed and, of course, other pizza places opened — including, shrewdly, one at the corner of Santa Monica and Westwood — so Vince’s lost most of its advantages. All it had to offer was great pizza and there were a lot of places you could get one of those in the area. And maybe, now that I think of it, it wasn’t so great. It was just greater than the pizza at Piece O’ Pizza, which wasn’t hard to be. My mother could achieve it with a Chef Boyardee mix.

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