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Keith’s Pizza & Calzones To Close In May

By Samantha Latos
On December 7, 2018


This marks the end of an era as students of Plymouth State University prepare themselves to part with an esteemed restaurant on Main Street. Keith’s Pizza, the most popular pizza joint in town, is scheduled to close on May 15th, 2019.

Keith himself will be moving down to Florida and converting his business into an on-campus food truck. There, he’ll be serving his iconic pizza and calzones to the students of a significantly larger university.

The same buyers who turned Baked into 1766 Brewing Company & Grill now own the building, and will be converting Keith’s into a brewery. Word has gotten out that Keith had a verbal lease. Since he did not have a written lease, they were able to push him out.

PSU students and Keith’s Pizza employees Shawn Doherty and Fran Grieco were able to offer some insight into the situation. “Keith is good guy, he cares about his business and he cares about the people,” Shawn said, “It’s sad that he’s being booted after all the time he’s put in here and all the time he’s put into the people of Plymouth. He wasn’t offered another location or anything. He wants to go down to Florida though, and as the move gets closer and closer he talks about it more and more. That place (Keith’s) is his baby though. First it was Late Night Pizza, and then it was Keith’s pizza.”

The Plymouth community was not meant to hear about this, especially not this far in advance. “He wasn’t going to tell anybody he was leaving. He told us (the employees), but he wasn’t going to tell any students,” Shawn said, “He didn’t want people to come in and freak out at him, like they have been, now that everyone’s been telling people he’s leaving.”

Keith's used to be known for the colorful handprints that covered the walls; they have since been covered up with paint. At first, this was conducive to Keith’s renovation plans. “He painted over the handprints last year because he was going to expand the kitchen over spring break,” Fran said, “He was going to push the sink back, and get a fryolator, but that didn’t work out. He was going to wait until summer break, but then Baked sold to 1766, and then they decided they wanted the whole building because they wanted to put a brewery in.”

Another reason that the handprints were covered was due to the grief it was causing for the customers and staff. Fran said, “We painted over the hands to make it look nicer. We had grandparents come down at about 7 or 8 at night, and they looked in and turned away because they didn’t think it was a good place because of the handprints. Also, we had people writing their phone numbers on the walls, so we had to cross them out, and then that looked really messy. Then what would happen was the drunks would get the numbers and call them over and over again, basically harassing people in the restaurant.” Those who’ve been to Keith’s in the past likely recall the handprints and the graffiti. The walls were covered in Instagram handles and Snapchat usernames. Even though this has been normalized for students over time, this doesn’t paint a nice picture for the families of Plymouth, or parents visiting PSU. The atmosphere, along with the late hours, helped build Keith’s reputation as a sanctuary for intoxicated college students.

Recently, Keith started having customers sign pizza boards. This is because people were upset that he painted over the hands. The pizza boards serve the same sentimental purpose as the handprints did. “He’s going to hang them up all over his food truck to see the signatures of people who came in,” Shawn said. Keith will be taking them to Florida with him as a tender keepsake of the people of Plymouth.

Students who have already heard the news are concerned about their future dining endeavors. “I think everybody will go to Live Free and Dine,” Fran said. That restaurant opened up this past winter, and it’s been doing well. Let’s face it, this is a college town. These people need pizza. Other than Live Free and Dine, students still have Downtown Pizza and Tenney Mountain Pizza. Students who don’t enjoy the food at any of these places will simply have to venture further away for pizza.

Shawn doesn’t think other restaurants in Plymouth will get more customers in Keith’s absence. “I think that there’s just going to be more drunk people at night without food,” he said, “I think people are still going to walk down there at night looking for Keith's, and it’ll probably take about a year for people to realize he’s actually gone.” It’s possible that some students may only want Keith’s pizza, or no pizza at all.

Keith’s is the only restaurant in Plymouth that stays open until 3 am. It’s a significant component of the nightlife scene around here. Many students associate staying out late with ordering their favorite calzone. It’s an integral part of partying in Plymouth. As upsetting as this news is, there may be a silver lining.

Plymouth Glass, located in the building across from Keith’s, is set to turn into a pizza place. It’s likely going to be called Plymouth Pizza. “It probably won’t be open for the same hours as Keith’s,” Shawn said, “It won’t be as good as Keith’s either, because he makes his a very specific way. He’s been in Plymouth since 2000, and he’s in the place he’s been in now for 15 years.” Although this new place won’t compare to Keith’s, PSU students have a new restaurant to check out next fall.

Construction for Plymouth Pizza will likely begin relatively soon. “They rushed to get 1766 in there,” Shawn said, “There were people working 6 days a week, 19 hours a day to get that place ready because they wanted to get it moving so they could start working on other places.”

Students have had strong opinions about Keith’s leaving. Many people laugh about it, but the jokes hide real pain. Several residents of Merrill Place Hall were willing to share their thoughts on the matter. Sally Goodwin said, “He (Keith) was always there for us in our times of struggle, when we needed pizza at 3 am.”

The plans for Keith’s space has raised some concerns. Adam Beckett said, “There are five thousand students here. You have a bar, you have a pub, you have the brewery, you have alcohol being served in the Chinese takeaways. Plymouth does not need another space for more alcohol. I don’t know where they think more people are going to come from. It’s a small area.” Main Street does seem to have a lot of spaces to go drinking. Keith’s is leaving, and there’s no saving it, but students have a right to an opinion about what happens with the space.

This trend of local businesses getting bought and sold seems suspicious to some students. Adam went on to say, “At the end of the day they’re just being bureaucratic prats.”

Students have expressed empathy for the employees of Keith’s. Since the business is closing, they will have to find new jobs. John Mercurio said, “I wouldn’t have an issue with it, A: if I knew that there would be a similar pizza place around, and B: that the people would get to keep their jobs. I like Keith’s, I have friends that work there, I don’t want to see it go, but ultimately it’s not my decision.” Keith’s leaving affects a large amount of people, counting the staff and customers.

PSU will not be the same without Keith’s. We will miss the pizza and calzones, the laid back atmosphere, and the fun that always ensued. People of the Plymouth community are encouraged to order from Keith’s while they can. Fran left us with these words, “I’m really going to miss the food.” Won’t we all?

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