To a small town kid from Cleburne, South of Ft. Worth, a trip thirty miles up the road to Crystal's Pizza was like going to another planet. There was nothing like the place in the town where I grew up.
I'm pretty sure it was a church youth group outing that first exposed me to Crystal's. The one I went to was on Camp Bowie Boulevard on Fort Worth's west side, right next to Peaches Records and Tapes.
Crystal's looked like something from the Las Vegas strip with its bright twinkle light sign out front. It was fitting the lights out front were so bright and distracting because once inside you definitely were on sensory overload.
The place had an old timey feel. There was a theater in the back showing endless loops of cartoons and serial adventure films. You could take your pizza in there and if you had the extra money you could finish off your meal with a do-it-yourself ice cream sundae.
The teens would head to the library for privacy from the rug rats running and screaming all around the place. There were all kinds of pinball and video games to play.
The pizza was terrific. I always loved the pepperoni. It had the most pepperonis I had ever seen on one pie. The entire top was covered with the slightly scorched, delicious slices pepperoni.
When I got old enough to drive and get out of Cleburne, I'd load up my '67 Mustang and head up to Crystal's for dinner and maybe a movie nearby. Then, the last stop of the night was always over at Peaches, where I'd pick up the latest album or even a 45 from bands like Van Halen, Rush, Led Zeppelin, The Ramones or Kansas or Journey. They stayed open late and it was also the place to buy concert tickets.
Alas, Peaches is gone, years after it became Sound Warehouse. The Fort Worth Crystal's went away years ago as did most of the other places I spent my Friday and Saturday nights when I got out of Johnson County.
And now the last Crystal's, in Irving, is closed. They've turned off that bright sign out front and shut down the pizza ovens and locked up the doors for the final time this weekend. The owner says it just wasn't worth the money to fix up the place, so we move on.
Crystal's, it was a good run. You made a great pizza, and better memories.
That's what I'm thinking.