Tasty Food Pizza’s earliest incarnation dates back to 1958 in Montreal. This came after two brother-in-laws opened an ice cream franchise called “Tastee Freez Soft Ice Cream”. Tastee Freez originally had a serving counter and no indoor seating. It was located at 6415 Decarie Boulevard.
This also happened to be the end of the line for the downtown bus service, which made it a good location for year round business. However, as one might imagine, during the winter months in Montreal, there was no demand for cold ice cream. In order to increase sales, pizza, hamburgers, hot dogs and French fries were added to the menu.
In 1958, when pizza was added to the Tastee Freez menu, there were only one or two restaurants selling pizza in Montreal. It became an instant hit! It’s popularity outsold the soft ice cream, even during the summer months.
The two brother-in-laws ended their partnership in 1959. The one that remained, Pantelis Loukas, worked 18 hour days in order to sustain the business. Furthermore, it wasn’t long before the Tastee Freez franchisor became aware that food was being sold in what they called a dairy bar. They quickly severed their ties with Mr. Loukas who was left with no choice but to
change the name of the restaurant and try to continue. In order to keep costs to a minimum, Pantelis changed the last 2 letters of “Tastee” to a “Y” and the “Freez” to “Food” in order to use the existing signs. The rent was immediately tripled by the landlord. Yet, Pantelis soldiered on.
After a year of never being late with the increased rent, the landlord approached Pantelis to build a larger location, to which he would charge an even greater rent. Pantelis agreed and in 1961, the new Tasty Food restaurant opened with a circular serving counter and 15 booths.
Three months after the new restaurant opened, Decarie Boulevard was closed and excavation began on the Decarie Expressway. Business immediately decreased by 50%.
Pantelis continued to operate through the dust and misery of the road construction. The nightmare continued until 1967 when the Expressway opened. Tasty Food would have gone bankrupt were it not for the addition of the delivery service that Pantelis introduced shortly after he separated from his brother-in-law in 1959.
Pizza proved to be the perfect delivery item. The pizza sauce, which is basically tangy tomato sauce, kept the pizza hot, from within, until it was received at home by the customer. Delivery was so popular, that Tasty Food had 4 to 5 delivery cars on the road at all times.
Pantelis’ family was also very active in keeping the new restaurant running; one of his two sons or his wife were always on the premises helping out.
As business grew, so did the menu. New menu items such as Spaghetti, Lasagna and other pasta dishes were added. Soft ice cream still played an important role in the new Tasty Food, but the percentage of business attributed to ice cream was decreasing.
In December 1976, Gaz Metropolitain, the local gas provider, scheduled a change of the gas line coming into the building. They were to set up everything first, and then simply reroute the line. By the end of the day, during dinner hour, with half the restaurant full, they were finally ready to perform the switch-over. A spark ignited the gas running through the line coming into the building. Led by the gas technicians, patrons and employees fled the burning building abandoning coats and other possessions . The restaurant burned to the ground within an hour despite the minus thirty degree weather.
Pantelis’ will, to succeed in the pizza business remained, and 9 months later, with the encouragement of his two sons Jim and Nick, a newer and larger Tasty Food pizza reopened. It was a two story building with a full restaurant, party room, bar and delivery service.
In September 1983, both Pantelis and his wife perished in a car accident. Tasty Food continued under the guidance of their sons who were successful in keeping the restaurant going until May 1996 when it closed. The equipment was placed in storage, and the property at 6415 Decarie blvd. was leased.
In 1998, a new location was found down the street from the original location and construction began at 6660 Decarie blvd. A year later, when the sign went up, Tasty Food was fire-bombed. Jim, who had separated from Nick, was devastated. However, the setback was minor and construction continued. One month before opening in January 2000, Tasty Food was fire-bombed again. This time, the damage was extensive. The insurer paid again and promptly informed Jim that there was to be no further coverage. A security guard posted in the restaurant overnight during construction and for the first 6 months of operation. Anticipation for the opening was overwhelming. Finally open, the new location was a great success!
In 2005, Jim thought of selling the restaurant. His son, Telly (actually named Pantelis after his grandfather), decided to continue the tradition.