Pizza Pioneer: Lake Tahoe Pizza Company celebrates 50 years |

Pizza Pioneer: Lake Tahoe Pizza Company celebrates 50 years

Lake Tahoe Pizza Company under construction when acquiring their current location in 1980.
Provided / Lake Tahoe Pizza Company

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — From casual fare to white tablecloths, South Lake Tahoe offers dining options that can satisfy anyone’s craving. Of the many food options in town, pizza is at the forefront; and one business that has been dishing it out to the community for decades is Lake Tahoe Pizza Company. 

Lake Tahoe Pizza Co. has been a part of the fabric of the South Lake Tahoe community, and this year, the restaurant is celebrating their 50th anniversary. The pizza shop has been in the Touryan family since the start, and still remains family-owned today. 

“The restaurant had a very humble beginning, where I started it in Redwood City back in 1973, and that’s where the pizzas and recipes came to life,” Levon Touryan, founder of Lake Tahoe Pizza Co. said. “I moved to South Lake Tahoe in 1977, and continued the business here.” 

The restaurant originally began in the Bay Area, where Touryan was a recent college graduate with no financial support, and took a chance on pizza. He reflects on his time when beginning the business living in his Volkswagen bus, and dishing out fresh, unique pizzas. During this time, he found and created the unique recipes that Lake Tahoe Pizza Co. still offers today. 

The Touryan family has owned and operated Lake Tahoe Pizza Company since opening in 1973.
Provided / Lake Tahoe Pizza Company

When Touryan made the move to South Lake Tahoe, Lake Tahoe Pizza Co. opened in the Kings Shopping Center, where Grand Central Pizza currently is, and after three years at that location, the restaurant quickly outgrew the space, and moved to their current location on Emerald Bay Road in 1980. 

“The only building I could afford at the time was the building we are in now, the previous business had gone bankrupt, so I took a chance, and it stuck,” Touryan said. “After purchasing, the building needed a lot of work, and we remodeled for six months.” 

With Lake Tahoe Pizza Co.’s “humble beginning,” Touryan looked to the South Lake Tahoe community for opinions and support, in efforts to continue to grow the business. 

“It was very low budget in the beginning, we were just hoping the restaurant was going to make it,” Touryan said. “Within two years upon initially opening in South Lake, I started taking pizzas to the fire department, police department, and other community members to get their opinions. Shortly thereafter, we developed different pizza doughs and sauces to work with. After we’d close up for the day, we’d work on different recipes, and see what would stick.” 

One of the standout characteristics of Lake Tahoe Pizza Co. is their unique pizza dough. The pizza doughs that Touryan tried out back in the 1980’s are still on Lake Tahoe Pizza Co.’s menu today. The menu offers their classic homemade dough, whole wheat dough, cornmeal crust dough, and gluten-free dough. All four pizza doughs boast unique flavor, are vegan, and have the pizza shop’s classic braided crust.

Along with Lake Tahoe Pizza Co.’s standalone doughs, the restaurant has a menu that offers classic fare for the whole family. Classic pies such as the “Pizza Margherita” and the “Fresh Garden Veggie Pizza” are available as yummy staples; as well as one-of-a-kind bites such as the “Spinach Garlic Seafood,” “Gut Buster,” and “Acapulco Gold,” a Mexican-style pizza with cornmeal dough, Picante sauce, spicy beef, cheese, and veggies, are also available for those wanting to step out of their pizza comfort zone. 

Lake Tahoe Pizza Company’s signature pizza, Acapulco Gold.
Rob Galloway / Tahoe Daily Tribune

“We don’t depart from what works, which is our cold-proofing process, and we make every aspect of the pizza once it’s ordered, not pre-baking or using day-old ingredients,” Brennon Touryan, current owner and son of the founder of Lake Tahoe Pizza Co. said. “We don’t cut corners whatsoever and stick to our formula that works, and business only seems to be getting better as we continue to grow.”

When Levon opened the business back in the 1970’s, he didn’t realize that it’d grow into such rooted success. Five decades later, and the restaurant is celebrating their 50th anniversary in business, still under the Touryan family name. 

“Working with family has been sometimes difficult, but through everything, family has also been the most reliable,” Brennon said. “We’ve had multiple families over the decades work for us, who have helped build it up to what it is today. The loyalty and dedication is part of the formula that has contributed to making it as long as we have.” 

Being the son of Lake Tahoe Pizza Co.’s original founder, Brennon has been a part of the restaurant’s operation for as long as he can remember. Levon reflects back on his son running around, bussing tables for customers when he was around nine years old; and decades later, the restaurant is currently owned and operated by Brennon. 

The Touryan family has owned and operated Lake Tahoe Pizza Company since opening in 1973.
Provided / Lake Tahoe Pizza Company

“We’ve had close to a dozen of our family members be a part of this business at some point in their life. We are very rooted with keeping our staff tight-knit and close, we are family,” Brennon said. “We’ve had a few other families become a part of the operation over the years, and similarly, their children and grandchildren end up working with us.” 

Reflecting back on the past 50 years in business, Lake Tahoe Pizza Co. is celebrating being a staple for quality pizza in South Lake Tahoe, being an employer for close to 2,000 employees in the past five decades; and Brennon is honored to be involved and carry on his family’s tradition of Lake Tahoe Pizza Co. into the present day. 

“It’s so great to see [Lake Tahoe Pizza Co.] be recognized as something special and unique,” Brennon said. “My dad immigrated to the United States as a child, so this business is very much the embodiment of the American Dream for him. To carry on this family tradition that’s been a part of so many other families as well is an honor.” 

The current staff of Lake Tahoe Pizza Company.
Provided / Lake Tahoe Pizza Company

While the Touryan family has faced tribulations of owning a business in South Lake Tahoe over the years, to this day, the thing that they are most grateful for is serving their restaurant patrons quality food. 

“It’s a very honest, vulnerable business making food for someone, and having people come in, appreciate us, and like what we are serving up and doing for the community is incredibly fulfilling,” Brennon said. “To be a part of a quality product that people appreciate is a really satisfying thing to be involved with and be dedicated to.” 

The Touryan family has strived to continue evolving Lake Tahoe Pizza Co. in South Lake Tahoe, however the one thing that remains consistent that the restaurant is grateful for is keeping quality, taste, and family at the center of their business. 

“Tastebuds don’t lie,” Levon said. “If we can produce something that people can really appreciate, not look at the bottom line or try to please other people, but make a quality product, it has meant everything to us. The customers have kept us going all these years, and it’s wonderful to see them continue to keep coming back with their families.” 

Lake Tahoe Pizza Company is celebrating their 50th year in business.
Madison Schultz / Tahoe Daily Tribune

Lake Tahoe Pizza Co. is open from 4 – 10 pm daily, offering dine-in and to-go services. Visit Lake Tahoe Pizza Co. at 1168 Emerald Bay Road, South Lake Tahoe, Calif. 96150, or call 530-544-1919. 

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around the Lake Tahoe Basin and beyond make the Tahoe Tribune's work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.