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Battle of the keys: Organ pizza restaurants in Mesa and Milwaukee wager bet for Suns-Bucks NBA finals

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Posted at 1:52 PM, Jul 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-19 17:23:12-04

QUEEN CREEK, AZ — As the Phoenix Suns and the Milwaukee Bucks battle it out for the NBA championship, two restaurants that happen to be in both cities have wagered a friendly bet of their own.

Organ Stop Pizza in Mesa, Arizona, and Organ Piper Pizza Palace in Greenfield, Wisconsin -- about 11 miles outside of Milwaukee -- may be some 1,700 miles a part, but they share one thing in common: both are home to "The Mighty Wurlitzer" theatre pipe organ -- and are one of the few pizza-organ restaurants that remain in the United States.

"It really is kind of fate," said Jack Barz, co-owner and manager of Organ Stop Pizza. "I think, you know, it's like the last breed of restaurants like this."

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With some 6,000 pipes -- rows and rows of pipes spanning four chambers -- the Wurlitzer organ encompasses a majority of the dining room's back wall and features various percussion instruments -- drums, cymbals -- on the sides, alongside flutes and whistles, dancing puppet cats, and marquee-style flashing lights that are all controlled by a single organist and console in the center of the room.

The console has 467 keys, 798 controls, and 32 pedals, again, all controlled by one person.

"It's almost like a circus or circus atmosphere at times. It is. It's just fun. It's casual, you come in, you sit family-style," Barz said. "During COVID we're not putting people in quite as close, but, otherwise, you just come in, you have a really good time. It's a simple menu: pizza, beer, soda, wine, have some ice cream for dessert before you leave."

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People can also request some of their favorite songs to be played.

So when the Suns and Bucks made it to the Finals, Barz said he reached out to his friend, Derek Paikowski, who owns Organ Piper Pizza Palace in Wisconsin, with a friendly bet.

If the Suns win the championship, the organist at Organ Piper Pizza Palace has to don a Suns shirt and play Queen’s “We Are The Champions.”

If it goes the other way -- hopefully, not -- then the organist at Organ Stop Pizza will have to wear a Bucks shirt.

But, that’s not going to happen on Barz’s watch.

“Derek, just wanted to let you know that our Suns are going to win it and five, they're going to do it here in our home court and we really look forward to seeing you in that Suns' jersey,” Barz said.

Organ Stop Pizza
1149 E. Southern Avenue, Mesa AZ 85204

Organ Piper Pizza Palace
4353 S. 108th Street | Greenfield, WI 53228