Article by Jeffrey Pickette; video by Evan Schneider:
The story of what is turning into David Schuler's annual 2,800-mile takeout run to Stoughton's Town Spa to bring hundreds of pizzas back home to his family in Mississippi has been told here and in other publications and on other news broadcasts near and far.
Schuler made headlines last August when he drove from his home in Madison, Miss. (north of Jackson, Miss.) to Town Spa and back again to pick up an order of 150 pizzas. He upped the ante this year by placing an order of 250 pizzas, which he picked up and brought home Saturday afternoon.
When Schuler and his family moved to Mississippi in the 1970s, they just couldn't find a replacement for their favorite hometown pizza.
While it may seem like a long way to travel for pizza - never mind the sheer quantity of Schuler's order - when Schuler and members of his Massachusetts family gathered at Town Spa on August 9 for his sister-in-law Anne Schuler's birthday, there was actually a customer eating at the restaurant on the same night who had traveled further for his Town Spa fix.
Stoughton native Jim "Chester" Grant moved out to Las Vegas a few years ago and was back in town visiting. He will be packing 18 frozen cheese pizzas in a carry-on when he flies back home August 15.
Grant's round trip will be more than 5,000 miles.
Most of the pizzas are for his sister, Mabel Maltsby, who also loves out in Las Vegas, but Grant said he will be able to snag some for himself.
He would bring back more pizzas - maybe not as much as Schuler - but that is all his carry-on will fit.
Town Spa serves about 9 to 10 thousand pizzas a week, owner Dick Phillips said, and it's shipping business, handled by his grandson Matt Phillips, is growing.
Matt Phillips said Town Spa will ship anywhere from 5-10 orders depending on the week. However, during Christmas week this year, Town Spa shipped 400 orders of frozen pizza.
What makes Town Spa so special?
"It's the whole flavor of the crust and the sauce," Grant said. "The whole texture of the pizza - you can't get it elsewhere."
The pizzas are still delectable, even when frozen for almost a year, Schuler said.
"It tastes great. It's incredible. It's hard to believe," Schuler said. "It's not quite as good as having one right here [at Town Spa in Stoughton], but you still have the taste, the cheese and the seasoning and the crust. The crust is still perfect just like it is [in the restaurant]...nice and crunchy."
The restaurant, which has been open 57 years (26 years in the current Washington St. location), owes its success to “family loyalty,” Dick Phillips said last year.
"It's like the Cheers place," Grant said, conjuring up images of Norm being greeted by everyone at the bar. "You get treated like family."
"I told Dick open a place in [Las Vegas] and you'll be a gazillionaire," Grant said.
But there is only one official Town Spa location, and perhaps that is what makes it a restaurant worth driving (or flying) to, no matter what the distance.
Watch a video recapping David Schuler's big takeout order in the media gallery of this article. Video by Evan Schneider.