was the year Mt. St. Helen’s erupted, Pink Floyd put “Another Brick in the Wall,” the K-car was introduced, John Lennon was assassinated and Reagan won by a landslide. It was also the beginning of Woodstock’s Pizza in San Luis Obispo.
When Chuck Woodstock and Mike Chew decided they wanted to open a restaurant in California, they searched the state for an ideal college community. They chose San Luis Obispo because of its strong association with Cal Poly SLO and its small town college atmosphere. Chuck and Chew opened Woodstock’s at 1015 Court Street (next to McCarthy’s) in December 1980.
Their goal from the beginning was to create a fun hangout for college students, offering classic pizzas that surpassed anything they’d tried elsewhere. One of Chuck’s innovations was to put sauce in the folded-over crust. He also insisted on putting more toppings on the pizza than any of his competitors did. Ideally, you should get a taste of every topping in each bite of a Woodstock’s pizza.
Chuck and Chew, along with their pizzeria, quickly became fixtures in San Luis Obispo. People still remember the days when Chew would walk around town with his huge black dog, Woolly Bears. She wore a coat emblazoned with “I Eat Exclusively at Woodstock’s” and was sometimes seen riding on the roof of Chew’s car. Sadly, Chuck and Chew passed away in a private plane accident in 1985, but their legacy continues at Woodstock’s.
Woodstocks Pizza SLOMike Swift, Woodstock’s General Manager, still maintains many of the traditions begun by Chuck and Chew. The dough is still handmade each day, we still use Chuck’s secret sauce recipe, we insist on using the freshest ingredients available, we still load on the toppings, and we teach every employee to make each pizza as if it were for their best friend. We’ve had lots of practice – we estimate that we’ve produced more than two million pizzas since 1980!
Woodstock’s management team is an institution in itself. Mike Swift has been with Woodstock’s since 1985, and was promoted to General Manager after serving 10 years as the Operations Manager. He’ll be assisted by Jeff Lafranchi, who has been promoted to Woodstock’s Director of Training and Human Resources. Jeff’s been with the company since 1987 and served as General Manager for 13 years. Jeff Ambrose, Woodstock’s owner and President, has been with the company since 1980. And Tom Soucek, Co-Owner and Vice President, began in 1985.
We eventually outgrew our original location. In 1991 we moved across the street to the corner of Higuera and Osos Streets downtown.
Part of the Woodstock’s culture has been a strong commitment to the community. Woodstock’s has hosted hundreds of fundraisers for various campus and community organizations through the years. One of the notable fundraisers here was for Brandi Diaz, a local resident who desperately needed a bone marrow transplant. Thanks to the generosity of many community members who participated in our fundraiser, Brandi’s family was successful in finding a match for her, and she has recovered from leukemia.
In 2001 an employee of Woodstock’s, Nate Young, was in an accident that left him with serious head injuries. We hosted a fundraiser to help with medical expenses, and all of the team members at Woodstock’s agreed to work for free that day. Every dollar earned over our actual food cost was contributed to the fundraiser. On that day, Woodstock’s set an all-time record of 1040 pizzas served. All told, we raised $14,716 for Nate’s family. Unfortunately, Nate eventually passed away from his injuries, but his legacy lives on at Woodstock’s. There is a permanent memorial for Nate in our restaurant today. It’s been well over 20 years now, and Woodstock’s is going strong. Year after year we win the New Times Reader’s Poll for “Best Pizza of SLO.” And countless people make a pilgrimage back to Woodstock’s every time they’re passing through the area.
Woodstock’s has sister locations in four other California towns – Isla Vista (near UC Santa Barbara), San Diego (near SDSU and in PB), Davis (UC Davis), and Chico (CSU Chico). In addition, the original Woodstock’s Pizza Parlor in Corvallis, Oregon is owned by Chuck’s wife, Carol Lee Woodstock.
Our mission is to earn loyal customers and team members who uniquely regard Woodstock’s as the Ultimate Pizza Experience.
To earn the distinction of being the Ultimate Pizza Experience we will:
• Prepare every customer’s meal with individual attention.
• Use the freshest, best tasting ingredients.
• Consistently create outstanding, unique pizzas and accompaniments that are widely-regarded
as the best ever, anywhere!
• Treat each and every customer with friendliness, respect and courtesy.
• Provide outstanding value that keeps customers returning with uncommon frequency.
• Be recognized as a fun and outstanding place to work.
• Provide a fun-filled festive atmosphere.
Woodstock’s will encourage our team members to work hard and have fun.
Woodstock’s will be regarded as a reputable, well-run company by all of our business partners and team members.
Woodstock’s will strengthen and give back to the communities we serve by fostering partnerships with local non-profit organizations.
Woodstock’s has won numerous awards over the past years, including:
Voted "Best Pizza of San Luis
The New Times Readers' Poll, San Luis Obispo
Voted Cal Poly’s Favorite Pizza!
Mustang Daily 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 & 2012 Readers’ Poll
"Award of Quality"
National Academy of Restaurant Evaluation
Voted “Best Pizza” (2 times)
Telegram-Tribune’s First & Second Annual Readers' Poll