A Shakey’s Pizza opens in building abandoned a decade ago near Grape Day Park

A Shakey's Pizza Parlor opened in Escondido Monday inside a building that had been abandoned more than a decade ago near Grape Day Park.
(J. Harry Jones / San Diego Union-Tribune)

A building near Grape Day Park that once housed a Sizzler Family Restaurant, vacant for more than a decade in the heart of Escondido, has reopened as a Shakey’s Pizza Parlor.

Judging from the crowd that filled the building Monday at lunchtime, the business located across Escondido Boulevard from the California Center for the Arts figures to be around for a long time.

The grand opening of the restaurant was held Monday and the buffet line was always crowded.

“Most of the Shakey’s locations now are up in the Los Angeles area,” said Joseph McArdle, the restaurant’s general manager.

“We have one in Chula Vista and one in Temecula. The I-15 corridor is such a nice area and they were looking for something. Escondido is kind of centrally located between our two other stores. It’s got a good population base and the kind of demographics we were looking for. This location was ideal.”

McArdle-said he hopes that crowds looking for a place to dine before a show at the arts center will stop by as will movie goers at the Regal Cinemas that shares a parking lot with the new Shakey’s.

“They’ve been working on it for a couple years,” he said. “It took some time but we finally got in here. We’ve already heard from a lot of local schools about teen parties and fundraisers and things like that. We expect to do some really good business here in Escondido.”

The restaurant features communal tables for larger groups, ice-cold beer, a Fun Zone for kids, an all-you-can-eat Bunch of Lunch buffet featuring an assortment of thin crust pizzas, fried chicken, the restaurant chain’s signature Mojo potatoes, pasta, salad, sides and dessert.

“Escondido is a vibrant community with a strong family orientation to complement Shakey’s unique brand heritage, and we are thrilled to be able to bring this cherished brand back to serve residents, workers and visitors alike,” said Nick Mayer, Shakey’s Pizza CEO, in a news release.

“Everybody has a fond Shakey’s story and as we continue to evolve the brand, we want to give a new generation the opportunity to enjoy great food and create memorable experiences of their own in a unique community gathering place that reflects the local flavor.”