Peter Piper Pizza preps for opening (Video)

Feb. 5, 2013 at 5:02 p.m.
Updated Feb. 5, 2013 at 8:06 p.m.

Skee-ball machines sit in the corner of the game room at Peter Piper Pizza. Managers brought in about $400,000 worth of games to the new restaurant.

Skee-ball machines sit in the corner of the game room at Peter Piper Pizza. Managers brought in about $400,000 worth of games to the new restaurant.

The faint smell of pizza wafted through Victoria's Peter Piper Pizza on Tuesday, while the game room's flashing lights and electronic tunes added to the eatery's ambiance.

The only thing missing were the guests.

Peter Piper Pizza opens for business Wednesday at 3603 N. Navarro St.

The restaurant, part of a national chain, serves up pizza, wings, salads and desserts, along with its share of games, said Lee Verheyen, the company's area supervisor. A variety of beers and soft drinks, as well as a weekday lunch buffet, also join the menu.

Peter Piper looked at Victoria for many years but, with Chuck E. Cheese and now-closed Incredible Pizza in town, didn't feel the time was right, he said. Now, with the city's rapid growth, it makes sense, Verheyen said.

"We're anxious to get started," Verheyen said from his makeshift office in a corner booth.

The restaurant has 47 employees and four managers, Verheyen said, while General Manager Don Butler noted it can seat more than 600 people.

Victoria resident Mindi Baker said she had ventured to Peter Piper restaurants years ago during out-of-town trips and looks forward to taking her 4-year-old son, Tanner Amsler, for pizza and games.

"Incredible Pizza is closed, and we have Chuck E. Cheese, but it's so small," she said, watching Tanner zip through Riverside Park's Children's Park. "We're pretty excited."

She wasn't the only one.

When asked whether he looked forward to the upcoming excursions, Tanner responded with a loud, "Yeah, Mom," before starting up a game of hide and seek.

Alissha Marcum, who moved to Victoria in May, said she was glad to see a new company coming to town. The former Cactus Canyon employee said she remembered watching Furr's Family Dining come down as work got under way for Peter Piper.

Still, she isn't sure when she will check out the new place.

Money is tight, she said, noting that many people in the area are in the same situation.

"It's hard when you don't have the money," said Marcum, who works in health care. "So we'll see."

James Campbell, Peter Piper's game manager, was busy Tuesday testing the restaurant's 53 games, stocking the prize counter and finishing other last-minute details.

"We've come a long way from where we were," he said with a sigh. "It'll be good."

A bit of relief will be on-hand for the restaurant's first six to eight weeks, Verheyen said, noting Peter Piper veteran employees from the Rio Grande Valley will be present to help get the ball rolling.

And if a neighboring restaurant's experience is any indicator, the crew expects a big opening day, Butler said.

Wendy's, which sits next door, saw the largest opening day numbers in the company's history, he said.

"Victoria's going to come out," Butler said with a smile. "We know that."



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