After 55 years of serving the Billings community, the landmark pizza parlor, Village Inn Pizza, is officially no more.
“It’s iconic pizza for Billings,” says Billings resident Jeff Schlenker.
First opening its doors in the late 1960s, 'iconic' is perhaps the best word to describe Village Inn Pizza.
On its last day of business, long-time customer Maddy Kennedy is sad to see Village Inn go.
“I am depressed about it, it was a staple to Billings,” Kennedy says. Kennedy grew up eating at Village Inn Pizza and now lives in Wyoming.
Several Village Inn employees posted on social media that the business closed unexpectedly on Sunday. Workers say they learned the news in a text message.
“Really sad to hear they’re closing their doors. I’m sad for their employees,” said Ryan Hendrickson.
Hendrickson is one of the restaurant’s biggest fans. He recently moved back to Billings after 28 years away.
“One of the first things I did when I moved back was come on down here to Village Inn and got myself a Village Inn pizza,” Hendrickson said.
The restaurant also conjures up nostalgic memories for others. Eran Thompson grew up just two blocks away.
“Some of my best memories are riding down here on my BMX bike and picking up a pizza back when they wrapped it in tinfoil,” Thompson said.
Like many restaurants, the COVID-19 pandemic took a toll on Village Inn Pizza. The pandemic was followed by a worker shortage that forced the restaurant to only serve take out.
“Even as COVID took over, we’d order from here at least once a week usually,” Thompson said.
However, not all hope is lost.
“My dad, Neel Stokes, built Village Inn Pizza,” said Billings resident, Sherri Sones.
Sones hopes to save the business. Her dad built the restaurant and she worked there with her siblings.
The Marshall special was even named after her brother.
“I’m going to see what my brother, sister, and I can do, to bring it back,” Sones said.
Great news for the restaurant’s many fans who can’t believe it’s suddenly gone.
“I quite frankly don’t know how I’m going to live without this place,” Thompson said.