- Associated Press - Monday, June 30, 2014

TULSA, Okla. (AP) - Shotgun Sam’s Pizza Palace originally was to be called Pistol Pete’s Pizza.

That’s just one story the founders of Shotgun Sam’s Pizza Palace, Doug Jones and Tom Winslow, like to tell.

They met recently at Cheerz, a neighborhood bar that Jones, 82, has owned for 25 years. Winslow, 78, is in the real-estate business.

It was the recent opening of a Shotgun Sam’s Pizza Palace in London Square shopping center that spurred the former partners to get together to reminisce. Jones and Winslow have no connection to the new restaurant.

“Doug and a guy named Jack Mills from Oklahoma City wanted to open Pistol Pete’s Pizza, and I was putting the real estate deal together,” Winslow recalled.

“Raymond King was the landlord.

“At some point, Jack changed his mind and wanted out. I had a degree in hotel and restaurant management from Oklahoma State and worked a few years in the restaurant business before going into real estate. I told Doug, ‘Let’s do this deal together,’ and we came up with Shotgun Sam’s.”

Shotgun Sam’s Pizza Palace opened Aug. 4, 1967, at 1905 S. Sheridan Road in Tulsa.

“We had entertainment five nights a week when we opened,” said Jones, still sporting his signature handlebar mustache. “It usually was a banjo and piano player doing sing-along music. Then we went to country and western. I’ve heard Garth Brooks on the ‘Tonight Show’ say his first professional job was at our restaurant in Midwest City.”

The founders said they opened their second restaurant in 1969 in Oklahoma City, and King joined as a partner.

They followed with restaurants in Joplin, Missouri; Midwest City; Dallas; a second in Tulsa; and Springfield, Missouri.

“They all were company owned,” Jones said. “And we might have been the first pizza place in the country to offer a lunch buffet, around ‘70 or ‘71. We had been mostly a dinner place, but when we put in the buffet, it really boosted lunch for the first time.”

Winslow said he and King bought out Jones in 1978. King died in an automobile accident in 1984.

“Things started going downhill after Raymond died,” Winslow said. “A guy wanted to buy a Dallas store, and I ended up selling him three locations. Then one after the other, they all sold.”

He said the Tulsa stores closed in the mid-1980s, and the last Oklahoma City-area store in about ‘92.

Jones said he spent months developing the original recipes for Shotgun Sam’s. He said his theory was to load them with toppings, then standardize each flavor of pizza.

“The meats and cheeses all were scaled so each pizza was as identical as possible,” Jones said. “For instance, on a 10-inch pepperoni pizza we had 28 pepperonis. You could count them. And our crusts were thin and crispy. They wouldn’t fold over when you picked up a piece, and they had lots of cornmeal on the bottom.”

“Our sauce, flour and cheese were different than anyone’s,” Winslow added. “We made our sauce with tomatoes, tomato puree, tomato paste and 11 spices. Our dough was a blend of flours, and the cheese was a blend of four cheeses.

“Doug and I are the only ones who ever had the recipes. Raymond could have if he wanted, but he wasn’t interested in that part of the business.”

“No one else has ever used our recipes or is using our recipes,” Jones added. “It’s just not possible.”

Winslow said he and a granddaughter came close to reopening Shotgun Sam’s last year.

“I looked at a lease deal on 71st Street and then started negotiating one in Brookside,” Winslow said. “She got hesitant about it, and when the chance came up to scrap it, I did. I sure didn’t want back in the day-to-day restaurant business. At that time, I would have been inclined to help someone who wanted to reopen it.

“I’ll say this: The first 10 to 15 years of Shotgun Sam’s were the most fun I’ve ever had in my life. Doug and Raymond and I had a great time.”


Information from: Tulsa World, https://www.tulsaworld.com

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