From peanuts to pizza: What to know about Marion’s Piazza history as it celebrates 53 years


It’s been more than 50 years since Dayton fell in love with a thin crust square cut pizza.

Marion Glass, a scrappy local kid who as a youngster sold peanuts and soda at baseball games, opened the first Marion’s Piazza, a staple of Dayton dining, on Aug. 19, 1965. 

>> Marion’s Piazza to offer 50 percent off pizza deal during anniversary week

>> The secret behind how Marion’s makes its crave-worthy square-cut pizza

Ambition and a solid work ethic put Glass on the path to success. 

“My family was poor,” Glass told the Dayton Daily News in 1976. “I dropped out of Kiser High School when I was a junior. I wasn’t afraid to work and I wanted to learn.” 

In the 1930s Glass organized a group of boys to take to the streets on bicycles and sell ice cream bars.

>> Marion’s Pizza named ‘No. 1’ on ‘Hot 100’ list in Pizza Today magazine (October 2017)

“We would have big days when Ringling Brothers Circus would come to the fairgrounds,” said Glass. “People would come out by the hundreds to watch them set up the tents and we would sell a lot of ice cream to them.” 

Selling the frozen treat eventually led to store fronts on Xenia Avenue and then North Main Street. After World War II, Glass opened his own vending company and maintained 1,000 cigarette and candy machines in a 40-mile area. 

Glass initially got into the pizza business as the owner of three Cassano’s pizza franchises. But he had his own ideas. “I felt that it was time to have a dining room pizza house,” he said. 

The community had never seen a restaurant like the one at 460 Patterson Road in Dayton, where a large deluxe pizzas cost $2.50. The restaurant had seating for 200, four pizza ovens and the largest walk in cooler in town, according to a 1965 article in the Dayton Herald. 

 

Glass hired an interior decorator to create the feel of an outdoor café in Italy. Old brick, rustic iron décor, and canvas awnings complemented the look and lent itself to the name piazza, an enclosed veranda. 

Marion’s Piazza is not only a Dayton tradition, but was also the site for Wednesday night cast parties, from 1966 to 1995, for the Kenley Players summer stock theater company. Dozens of black-and-white photos of the famous players line the walls today.

FAMOUS GUESTS

Big name stars like Mickey Rooney, Cloris Leachman, Sally Field and Frankie Avalon dined and reveled at Marion’s. In 1975, Henry Winkler, who played “The Fonz” on Happy Days, drew 2,000 people to the restaurant. 

The business has grown to nine locations in the Dayton area. Founder Marion Glass died at age 92 in 2006. Today his son Roger Glass runs the business.


Reader Comments


Next Up in Local

Sex offender with more than a dozen voyeurism convictions arrested again
Sex offender with more than a dozen voyeurism convictions arrested again

A registered sex offender with more than a dozen voyeurism convictions is due in court this morning, again accused of voyeurism. Harold Rimblert III, 35, of Harrison Twp., was arrested Tuesday evening at his home and booked into the Montgomery County Jail on a $250,000 bond. He has more than a dozen voyeurism convictions stemming from incidents in...
WPAFB Wednesday Weather: Winter Weather Advisory in effect due to freezing drizzle, flurries 
WPAFB Wednesday Weather: Winter Weather Advisory in effect due to freezing drizzle, flurries 

A Winter Weather Advisory this morning as freezing drizzle is causing slick spots on roads, sidewalks and parking lots, according to Storm Center 7 Meteorologist Dontae Jones. There may be a few flurries as well as some patchy fog, reducing visibility. Temperatures are in the upper 20s to lower 30s. This afternoon should be mostly cloudy and breezy...
Leslie Ann looks as exquisite as rare porcelain china
Leslie Ann looks as exquisite as rare porcelain china

The beautiful Leslie Ann is a Camellia sasanqua that has had admirers bringing out their cameras for many years. It debuted in 1960, 58 years ago, thanks to nurseryman Ray Davis of Alabama. The next year in 1961 it won the coveted Ralph Peer Camellia sasanqua award. According to one website in Alabama it is one of two Camellias sasanqua to win the...
How to avoid plumbing disasters
How to avoid plumbing disasters

Murphy’s Law dictates that all plumbing disasters occur when you’re entertaining, cooking a large meal or hosting guests for the weekend. Naturally, of course, they also generally occur on Saturday night or Sunday. Here’s what you should do when they happen. CLOGGED TOILET The only thing worse than dealing with a clogged toilet is...
Beautiful Victorian vase is out of fashion with collectors

Dear Helaine and Joe: My wife inherited this vase from a friend in 1980. Imprinted on the bottom is a beautiful logo that says “Victoria-Carlsbad-Austria.” We are hoping you can tell us something about the origins of this piece. Thank you, I. and C. R. Dear I. and C. R.: This is a beautiful piece of late Victorian porcelain that unfortunately...
More Stories