Fork in the Road: More than pizza on menu at Oakland’s Pizza Parlor

You can join the Pizza Parlor family, you’ll find the doors open every day between 11 a.m. and 9 p.m. at 1401 NE Seward Ave.
Published: Dec. 6, 2022 at 7:01 PM CST
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - The Pizza Parlor has been in Oakland since the 1960′s, even if it’s now a few feet down the road.

“We bought it trying to save it,” Co-owner Eric Dinkel explains. “We moved it down the street to have our own thing, and kept all the recipes.”

As much as the neighborhood park or the nearby church, Pizza Parlor is part of Oakland.

“Oakland kind of feels like they’re maybe not part of Topeka, we’re on our own little corner over here,” Dinkel said. “So we’re the restaurant that we have over here, or at least been around the longest.”

Even visitors from outside Oakland know something special is cooking at the parlor. Bret Toelkes lives Lawrence, but always stops in when he works in Topeka.

“I think it’s the home cooking,” Toelkes. “You can get about anything you want, a great burger. It’s a good atmosphere, people are nice.”

“Same people come in every day” Dinkel elaborated. “Same people come in on Mondays that like fried chicken, same people come in on Thursdays that like chicken fried chicken, same people come in on ribs day. It’s just the same local, people coming in every week. You know who they are, you know their families, and they know yours. It’s nice.”

Those regulars remained, even as the restaurant persevered through the pandemic.

“They actually came through and they would buy dinner every night here,” Dinkel recounted. “We had three guys that actually came in every day, just to make sure we stayed open. Makes you feel like you made the right decision, also lets you know you can’t shut the place down anytime soon.

But those folk didn’t have pizza every night.

“It’s called the Pizza Parlor, but I think about 15 percent of our business is pizza,” Dinkel said.

“All the last few years we’ve been coming in I haven’t had a pizza,” Toelkes affirmed. “I’ve had everything else. It’s good I know, but there’s a lot of other good food to eat here.”

“Ultimately, cheeseburgers, chicken-fried chicken, fried chicken, tacos, we sell a bit of everything,” Dinkel continued.

Pizza or not, the food is only half the experience when you eat at Pizza Parlor.

“It’s a local spot, people come and talk and meet, sometimes they eat, have a beer, whatever it may be but it’s vital for them I think,” Toelkes said.

“It’s a good thing for the community,” Dinkel ventured. “You gotta have some place for everyone to go.”

You can join the Pizza Parlor family, you’ll find the doors open every day between 11 a.m. and 9 p.m. at 1401 NE Seward Ave.