Clovis Pizza Junction isn’t merely in Clovis. The restaurant is “Clovis proud,” said general manager Jaime Sinor.
Evidence of that can be found in the menu and on the walls at 255 N. Clovis Ave.
The eight pizza options are named with Clovis history in mind. For example, there’s “The Rex Phebus,” a specialty combination.
Phebus could be described as “Mr. Clovis.” He was born in Clovis, graduated from Clovis High and provided leadership and service to Clovis youth and senior citizens.
Phebus also is remembered for his service to the Clovis Rodeo, the Clovis Memorial District and other organizations and causes. He passed away in 2013.
“The Rex Phebus” is billed as having “a truckload” of pepperoni, sausage, linguica and veggies.
It only seems appropriate that Phebus’ family members are customers at the restaurant.
As guests enjoy pizza, calzones, salads, cheese sticks or oven-baked sandwiches, they get a glimpse into Clovis history through the black-and-white photos on the restaurant’s maroon and beige walls.
One photo shows students in front of Clovis High School in 1902. Another is a portrait of Clovis Cole, the rancher for whom Clovis is named.
The photos can lead to a guessing game. For example, one photo shows horsemen coming down Clovis Avenue during the Rodeo Parade. Many spectators line the street — the men sporting hats and the women wearing dresses.
You try to guess the year from how the crowd is dressed. Sinor provides the answer: 1955.
Clovis Pizza Junction opened in October 2014 and is owned by Cynthia and Louis Sarantos.
One of the Pizza Junction’s guiding principles is to always use fresh ingredients.
Produce — bell peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms, purple onions — are delivered every day and chopped before the lunch rush begins. Similarly, staffer Greg Vega prepares fresh pizza dough every morning.
“We stand by our freshness, and we’re really proud of it,” Sinor said. “I don’t bend on it.”
The restaurant’s dough is medium thick and crispy with a soft middle. Each pizza is loaded with toppings.
“We don’t scrimp on anything,” Sinor said.
For example, “The May Case” is a vegetarian pizza featuring artichoke hearts, mushrooms, olives, bell peppers, purple onions and diced tomatoes. May Case and her husband, Spurgeon, founded The Clovis Independent in 1919.
The other pizzas are:
▪ “The Tarpey Depot” — an all-meat pizza with pepperoni, salami, Canadian bacon, sausage and linguica.
▪ “The Hoblitt” — named for Joshua and Fannie Hoblitt, a pioneering Clovis couple in the early 20th century. The pizza features pineapple, Canadian bacon and purple onions.
▪ “The Clovis” — featuring pepperoni, sausage, salami and an assortment of veggies.
▪ “The Cole” — a white sauce pizza topped with pepperoni, sausage, Canadian bacon and veggies. It’s named for Clovis Cole.
▪ “The Rodeo” — featuring grilled garlic chicken, hickory smoked bacon, pineapple and purple onions.
▪ “The 500 Club” — a white sauce garlic chicken combination also topped with hickory smoked bacon, roasted garlic and veggies. It’s named for the well-known Clovis card room.
Most of the pizzas range from $6.99 to $22.99, depending on size. Sizes range from an 8-inch personal to a 16-inch extra large.
Guests also can customize pizzas with a variety of meat and veggie toppings.
In keeping with the restaurant’s keep-it-fresh philosophy, salads are made with romaine lettuce cut from the head every day. Most salad portions are big enough for two people. A side salad is priced at $4.99, and other salads (garden, tossed Caesar, tossed chicken Caesar, antipasto, and chef) are either $8.99 or $9.99.
Clovis Pizza Junction places a premium on customer service.
Guests sit in booths or at tables and order from a menu rather than standing in line to study a menu board. Servers provide table service.
“The most important thing is for customers to feel welcomed,” Sinor said. “I want them to feel comfortable and relaxed.”
She jokes that she was born with “the gift of gab,” and therefore it’s natural for her to circulate in the dining room and chat with people.
“It doesn’t seem like work when you love it,” Sinor said.
Her staff includes younger family members and others “who get adopted pretty quickly into the family,” she said.
Regular customers get to know the young wait staff and ask about their lives.
“It gets real tight knit,” Sinor said.
Teachers from Clark Intermediate School comprise one group of regulars. They come in most Fridays for lunch.
“The restaurant accommodates our 40-minute lunches,” said Matt Gutilla, who teaches Academic Block to seventh-graders. “We call in our orders, and they’re always ready.” Gutilla, who ordered the meatball sandwich, said: “The food is fantastic!”
Clovis Pizza Junction is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday to Thursday, and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Delivery stops 30 minutes before closing. There is a $20 minimum on deliveries, which are limited to within four miles of the restaurant. Clovis Pizza Junction is on Clovis Avenue, just south of Herndon Avenue. The restaurant is on Facebook and has a website, clovispizzajunction.com.
Dining with Doug appears every other week in the Independent. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.