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Monona's Pizza Oven and Sauce Bar closes

Monona's Pizza Oven and Sauce Bar closes

Pizza Oven

Pizza Oven has closed after a long run in Monona.

The Pizza Oven, Monona's oldest restaurant, closed Saturday after 59 years.

Greg Ewelt took over the business 17 years ago, and in late 2014, moved it to a new Monona Drive location, where he added a sports bar called "The Sauce Bar."

The restaurant specialized in homemade thin-crust pizza. Its move was only a couple doors down to 5511 Monona Drive, in what was formerly the old Village Pedaler.

Ewelt said business was "killing off a little bit" lately, and that his children who helped him in the restaurant are now doing other things. "It's just hard for me to be there all the time." 

He said he hopes someone will buy the business and carry on the same recipes. "That's my favorite pizza. I'd love to keep it going so I have a place to go and eat pizza."

Ewelt doesn't own the property, and has the business listed for $150,000. He said he has a couple of interested buyers, "but could always use more options."

Alan Mikkelson, Ewelt's realtor, said Ewelt has 4 1/2 years left on his lease. Included in the sale is all of the restaurant's equipment and Ewelt's training of a new owner.

"It's been an awesome business," Ewelt said. "My family and I have loved it and my employees that worked there, they've loved it... I'd love to see somebody take it over and keep it going for sure. "

When he moved, Ewelt said the new location, an "endcap" in a strip mall, was more visible.

The restaurant has a dining room, a banquet room, the sports bar room with lots of TVs, and a kids' game room.

The bar at the old place was smaller, Ewelt said after the move. "Nobody really recognized us as a bar to go stop somewhere and have a drink, or just hang out... We spun it off and called it The Sauce Bar just to give it its own name."

Ewelt opened a West Side location in 2009, which he later sold to the managers, who eventually closed it.

Dick Domenget founded the business in 1961 at the corner of Monona and Femrite drives, and ran it with his family for 42 years.

When he sold it, according to a 2004 Capital Times' story, the pizza parlor was one of Monona's most longstanding and popular restaurants.

At first, the restaurant was take-out only. Domenget rented the corner of a three-store retail building that later became the restaurant's kitchen. He eventually bought the building, and turned the other stores into a dining room.

That building became prime real estate along Monona Drive, and, in 1999, the city of Monona bought the property and redeveloped the area.

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