Saying goodbye to Armand's Chicago Pizzeria in Tenleytown, set to close June 30
By Alex Baldinger
June 28, 2012
When Armand's Chicago Pizzeria opened in Tenleytown 37 years ago, a large pizza cost about $7 and the rent on the building was about $260 per month. Today, the pizza costs slightly more than twice what it did back then, but the monthly rent is up to nearly $12,000.
So it's with a heart as heavy as one of the pizzeria's fully-loaded deep dish pies that, on Saturday, owner Ron Newmyer is closing the original Armand's at Wisconsin Avenue and Veazey Street NW, a cozy, slightly ramshackle bungalow of all-you-can-eat pizza buffets, post-Little League dinners, American University student happy hours and casual family meals.
Nothing seemed off when I paid a final visit to the place with my parents last night, as we, like many parent-child combos, have been doing for 20 years: If not for the vinyl sign hanging from the patio announcing the end of the restaurant's 37-year-run, nothing seemed to suggest the pizza ovens were in their final days of regular operation.
We had been regulars since ... well, since our previous Favorite Pizza Place, Arno's on Bethesda Avenue in Bethesda, also closed its doors for good. We switched allegiances because Armand's was the only other deep dish pizza we knew of.
Armand's pizza was never likely to be mistaken with the kind of deep dish found at a Chicago chain like Lou Malnati's or Giordano's, pizzas that are essentially casseroles with gushers of cheese that immediately flood the vacancy caused by removing a slice from the pan. It's crustier, with a sourdough tang and sweet sauce that adopted a niche all its own in a city short on deep dish options. It became one of Washington's great tastes -- seen at school festivals, block parties and elsewhere on the Washington area streets, thanks to Armand's pizza truck, which has been operating continuously since 1985, Newmyer said -- even if it cited the Second City as its inspiration.
Other Armand's franchises around town will remain open, including locations in Capitol Hill, Silver Spring, Rockville, Gaithersburg and Olney. But the pizzas made at Lew Newmyer's Tenleytown original always seemed to taste better than the rest. It's a loss for Northwest Washington, but at least Armand's devotees don't have to start finding their next Favorite Pizza Place just yet.