Today, February 3, 2020 marks the 50th anniversary of Oak Ridge’s renowned family owned pizza restaurant, Big Ed’s. Big Ed’s has been a fixture of the Oak Ridge community since 1970 when Ed Neusel, his wife Ginger, and their three sons converted the old Service Drug Store to where Big Ed’s still stands today.
Big Ed’s makes all their crust, sauces and combinations in house, however, their cheese comes from Wisconsin. As stated on their website, “We make both our dough and sauce fresh in the restaurant using Big Ed’s original recipes. We also make our own sausage, with Big Ed’s unique blend of spices, and our own hamburger in the restaurant to ensure both are very lean. Our mozzarella cheese, made to Big Ed’s specifications, is shipped direct from Wisconsin and shredded daily. We even chop our fresh produce daily and smoke the chicken for our BBQ chicken at the restaurant. By doing all this extra work ourselves we can oversee and control the quality of our pizzas’ ingredients.”
Big Ed’s “Special” is a combination of ham, sausage, mushroom, onion, and green pepper. Another special is the BBQ Chicken with smoked chicken, red onions, jalapeños, cilantro and BBQ sauce. If these menu options don’t fit your fancy, we recommend building your own pizza with all your favorite toppings!
According to the 1970 Oak Ridger publication of Big Ed’s grand opening, “Several factors played a part in their selection of Oak Ridge as a new home. They have close friends here and their two oldest sons wanted to attend the University of Tennessee. They are very excited about Oak Ridge, their new business and the friendliness of the people here.”
This Oak Ridge staple has a unique atmosphere that has survived the decades. With original booth and signs from The Service Drug Store, an open kitchen to allow customers to watch the pizza being made (originally the drug store lunch counter) and the final touch – pizza sliced with scissors (Big Ed’s favorite way to slice). Not to mention the walls are covered with memorabilia, flags, awards, signs and souvenirs.
Big Ed passed away in 1988; however, his legacy proudly lives on today though the support of both Ed’s direct family, extended family and the Oak Ridge community. Big Ed’s 50th anniversary was a warm gathering of community, nostalgia and warm pizza. From servers who had worked there for 15+ years to men in ball caps who use to be on the high school baseball team where Big Ed would provide pizzas after practice.
This event speaks to just how much of a staple both Big Ed and his infamous pizza was to the heart of the Oak Ridge community. Happy 50th Big Ed’s – we’re so glad you call Oak Ridge home!