July 22, 2010

Pizza Inn

By Eric Shangraw

July 22, 2010 Updated Jul 23, 2010 at 2:20 PM CDT

Pizza Inn
3821 North Sterling Avenue
Peoria, IL
(309) 682-3722

Buffet Hours:
Monday-Sunday
11am-2pm
5pm-8pm

Peoria's Pizza Inn is a local landmark on Sterling Avenue. Owner Chris Herold's father baked his first pizza pie here in 1967. The second generation entrepreneur says the all-you-can-eat culinary layout 43-years later developed by demand.

"We found that if we weren't having a buffet then we were not having a lot of customers. So now the buffet is lunch and dinner seven days a week and that just is our bread and butter," said Herold.

The buffet is where to go if you're in the mood for a culinary binge. The salad station includes two kinds of lettuce, dressings, Jello, diced egg, beats, cottage cheese, pineapple, carrots, cucumber, sunflower seeds and more before the pizza parking lot. At all times there are six varieties of thin-cracker crust pizzas up for eat'in. The Bacon Cheeseburger Pizza is killer. A mustard base instead of pizza sauce. Bacon, beef, mozzarella and cheddar, plus pickles.

"We're not regular customers but we should be because it is a fantastic buffet. It is really good," said customer Cliff Roehm.

Moms and Dads like the laid back buffet biosphere and abundant choices.

"A lot of buffets are not as kid friendly. But not only do they have all the different kinds of pizza but they have spaghetti or the little corn dogs. Kids like that. And it is a good atmosphere because it is not all uptight. And quit. We need that," said customer Brenda Carr.

"I'm pretty old fashioned. Pepperoni and sausage. And that kind of pizza. But the kids like the chocolate chip pizza and then the cheesy bread and all that good stuff," said customer Mike Carr.

The good stuff includes includes Cinnamon Stomboli. Our initial pass through the line included salad and zaa. The lettuce crisp. The pizza, just a warm up. In about four and a half minutes, we went for trip number two. We ask others how many trips one can make without feeling like a oink-oink.

"Oh boy! I ain't going to say that. Two or three times, maybe," said customer Frank Akers while laughing at the question.

The second pass was my pizza potpourri. Cheesy bread. Pepperoni and sausage. Pepperoni, black olives with green pepper, and a barbecue chicken slice. White sauce with the chicken instead of red. Joe called the chocolate chip cookie pizza addictive. We hit a triple. I focused on sweet stuff. Joe, a single slice of Taco pizza. Yes, it tasted like a taco.

Our bill for the smorgasbord, $19.40 plus tip for the gal who got our drinks.

We worked off our pizza party with eight quarters worth of Big Buck Hunter. -Emulating pre-teens spending Dad's pocket change. In this case it was the stations coin. Even more fun.

Joe showed off his pinball passion on Batman and developed an audience.

There's a neighborhood bar in the back. Looks like my neighbors tricked out basement. Quaint and cozy.

We'll come back for a beer at the Pizza Inn back room, on another day.

Pizza Inn is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner. The buffet runs from 11 until 2 and 5 until 8pm. Doors open daily at 11am.

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