MESA, Ariz. - Organ Stop Pizza in Mesa is a Valley staple, and the man behind the iconic pipes at the restaurant has been entertaining families for decades.
However, the restaurant's lead organist, Lew Williams, is getting ready to retire, and he recently talked about the secret to his success, and why he believes it is time to call it a career.
Williams has entertained diners for decades
"I really had no idea what to expect. I was just holding on for dear life and hoping it would keep going, and lo and behold, it has," said Williams.
For 42 years, Williams has been entertaining families as they enjoy each other's company, a hot slice of pizza, and their favorite tunes coming from an 82-piped organ.
It all began in March of 1979. At the time, Williams was just 25 years old, and he was offered the job at Organ Stop Pizza. Williams took the job and moved across the country.
"At that time, I alternated between the Phoenix Organ Stop, which was at 7th Street and Missouri, and the Mesa Organ Stop, which was, at that time, right at the canal bank across from Friendship Village," said Williams.
That job offer quickly turned into a long lasting career, a career Williams now says he is ready to retire from.
"I feel that everything has a lifespan," said Williams. "Everything has a productive time length, and things only last so long. People have lifespans, buildings have lifespans, jobs have lifespans, and after coming up on 40-plus years of doing it, I began to feel that it was time to step back and go have someone younger step in, and continue on with younger ideas and take control."
Williams' love for the organ will not go away
Although Williams has decided to say goodbye to his nine-to-five, he says he will never stop playing the organ. It's a love that won't go away, a love that started when he was just a young boy.
"In those days, I'd go down to the appliance store on my bike, and they had these little amplified red organs, and you could turn them on and play them, and they finally told my parents get one of these for your damn kid to get him out of the store," said Williams. "I got one of those at 10 years old at Christmas, and I started piano at 15, and I went through two college degrees and post graduate study at Geneva, Switzerland."
When asked what he will miss the most, Williams says it will be the fans.
"I think I'll miss the reactions from the people. When you have a really good crowd and they're with you and you're playing to them and they're responding to you, there's a very direct line of communication there, and that's something you really don't get anyplace else," said Williams.
Fans say the feeling is mutual, but the show must go on. While Williams may be stepping down on Sept. 10, he is not saying goodbye forever. He will be filling in as needed.
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