Construction Begins At Pizza Man

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"You could say we're getting a little giddy," said Scott Chandler, as he and his brother Jeff watch out the window of their temporary office as construction is underway on the new Pizza Man restaurant in Litchfield.

The restaurant, which has been a staple in Litchfield since 1972, was completely destroyed in a fire on May 4, 2015. Since that time, the Chandler family has been hard at work trying to get the restaurant going once again.

After months of planning and preparing, parts for the new restaurant arrived mid-December, and construction started soon after.

"These guys are quick," said Scott. "It's been really fun to watch."

The new building itself will be a Morton Building, with additional contract work done by D&M Electric, Dan Heise Plumbing, Neuhaus Heating and Air, Triple H Construction in Benld and A&D Electrical Supply, among others.

"It was extremely important to us to use all local workers," Scott said.

"All of these guys are customers," his brother, Jeff, added. "Every one of them."

Jeff said it really helps that all the workers are local because they communicate so well with each other.

As of right now, the Chandler brothers are hoping the restaurant will be finished and ready to open by the end of April. The blueprints are being kept top secret, but diners will still enjoy the old Pizza Man feel.

"Some things will be different," Jeff said. "But when you walk in, you're still gonna see Pizza Man."

Among some of the favorite decor, the Chandlers will bring back the large shake-singled overhead, as well as the big globes near the entrance. They were also able to save the fireplace, which is being restored by Gerl's Auto Body in Litchfield.

Plans also include a spot for the popular Ice Cream Man treats.

"Jeff and I have been pretty diligent from planning and bidding out the structure to the flooring and furniture," Scott said.

So diligent, in fact, that they built some of it themselves. Scott said they were stunned by the prices of restaurant booths, and decided to hand make the booths themselves. The booths are nearly complete in storage, awaiting a staining job and then placement in the new restaurant.

The brothers and their families also traveled to Chicago to look at specialty ovens, which are scheduled to arrive soon.

"We aren't going to change the way we did anything," Scott said.

He added that many of the favorite menu items would remain the same, and they would be adding a deep fryer to include more items like toasted ravioli and wings, among other appetizers.

The new restaurant includes a totally different layout, which will allow them to feature a much larger buffet and salad bar with a very open floor plan.

"But don't worry, customers will still be able to watch us make the pizzas and cut them up," Jeff said with a smile.

The brothers own the restaurant, which was originally opened by their parents, Lowell and Kathleen Chandler of Litchfield. They still plan to be part of community events, and are grateful to all those who reached out to them during the demolition and remodeling process.

"There are a lot of giving hearts in this community," Jeff said.

They had 80 or so volunteers help them clean up the burned out building, and many restaurants even pitched in and donated supplies.

"This whole thing has been God-inspired," Jeff said. "Everything we've gone through shows us how God has revealed himself."

"Each and every day," Scott added.

For now, the brothers will continue to man their temporary office, situated in a trailer in front of the new construction. The building will soon be enclosed, and they said no pictures will shown of the inside until the grand opening later this spring.

"We really enjoyed all the stories about people's favorite memories of Pizza Man when the restaurant first burned," Scott said. "It's been the site of birthday parties, family nights and so much more. We want to make sure it's around for many more families to make their memories too."

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