The news that Chico’s Pizza Parlor was destroyed in a weekend fire hit many hard. The Moses Lake community and former residents showed their concern online with a flood of comments on the Herald’s website and Facebook page. People even kept talking on Facebook late into Saturday night, sharing memories and photos of the longtime business. I was right there with them because I loved Chico’s too. Starting the conversation was easy.
Readers enjoyed talking about the history of the 60-year-old business, its various locations, the menu and the memories made there. Chico’s was a big part of the Moses Lake experience. Even if you lived in an outlying area of Grant County, you stopped at Chico’s if you were in town. As a Coulee City kid, I made the sojourn with my parents and older brother.
Chico’s is a longstanding Moses Lake tradition and has fed countless generations of residents.
My favorite pizza? The pineapple and Canadian bacon-topped Hawaiian. My first visit to Chico’s? Probably as a kindergärtner, possibly much earlier. I have childhood memories of running through Chico’s, back and forth between the video game room and where my parents were seated. I was going through quarters fast on the video games but I didn’t care. Life was good.
As I became an adult, Chico’s was a popular go-to for class reunions, work gatherings and lately, my kids’ birthday parties. With the pizza, video games and spacious banquet rooms, what’s not to love? There’s plenty of room for kids to play and parents to visit.
I learned more about the Zornes family that started the business in 2011 while writing an article about owner Dick Zornes’ death. Dick’s son, Mitchell Zornes, was gracious enough to give me a tour of the business and talk about his dad’s role. Mitchell shared how his father’s leadership helped guided the business and the family’s history in Moses Lake. Inside Mitchell’s office hung an impressively large painting of Dick Zornes wearing his dress Army uniform. Mitchell pointed out Dick’s favorite vantage point to stand, drink coffee and visit with customers.
It was clear Dick made a big impact in the lives of those around him. He was an influencer who shaped the business and the community.
Like many others, this past week brought forth a flood of memories for me and the wonderful times I had at Chico’s. Over the years, I introduced my kids to Chico’s and we would dine there on occasion. The spring of 2016 was especially memorable. My family and I ate there weekly after son Luke’s T-ball games.
With my husband Kyle’s terminal cancer diagnosis, Chico’s was one place we could visit, eat and feel like a family again. It was our mini getaway. As soon as I walked through the restaurant’s doors, my stress evaporated. We soaked in the casual atmosphere and relaxed. Chico’s just had that allure.
I loved sharing a part of my childhood with our kids. The wood-paneled decor and red tables and benches had stayed the same over the years. I could tell Kyle enjoyed it too. He was outgoing and quickly found friends to visit with. Kyle died in November 2016 after a courageous 15-month battle at age 47. It was an honor to be by Kyle’s side and see how he put others first.
Our times at Chico’s were memories I will remember fondly and cherish forever. Cancer couldn’t take that away.
Thanks for the memories, Chico’s. They meant the world to us.
Lynne Lynch is managing editor of the Columbia Basin Herald and can be reached at email@example.com.