A building sat vacant on the corner of Gibbs Street and Mechanic Street in New Waverly, Texas for many years. Pizza restaurants had opened up in the building for short periods of time, but none stayed open long in the small town. Despite the location’s challenging track record, Brenda Zabodyn saw potential in the property and had a dream to open a pizzeria in her home town.
With 23 years of catering and food service experience, Brenda was ready to take on a new adventure. She grew up in New Waverly, and her parents still live around the corner. Every time she passed the vacant building, she felt a tugging at her heart. “I prayed about it, and doors just kept opening,” said Brenda. “I would start to wonder if I could really do this, and then something good would happen and reaffirm that I was on the right path.”
Brenda opened The Pizza Parlor November 27th of 2015, on Black Friday. “That was a rough start!” recalled Brenda, whose plans for a small “soft open” first day in business turned into a “standing room only” situation. “It was a learning experience. People saw the cars, and we have such a great community that wanted to see us do well, so people just kept coming in the door. There was a long wait, and we were training staff, and we were understocked, but the community was so supportive!”
A year and a half later, business is booming. Brenda’s own recipe has become a hit with the locals, and serves both lunch and dinner 7 days a week. “I had an Italian chef come in, and we tried different combinations of ingredients and spices until I found exactly what I was looking for,” Brenda said. “We make all kinds of pizza, and the sauce, dough, and cheese blend are all my own creation.”
The Pizza Parlor’s best seller is the Meat Lovers Pizza, topped with pepperoni, sausage, ham, and Canadian bacon. The less indulgent (but equally delicious) Margherita Pizza is a newer menu offering, and is made with basil grown by Brenda herself. She grows her own herbs, as well as tomatoes and jalapeños. The Pizza Parlor loves to work with customers to create their own pizzas, too. “We have many repeat customers, and we enjoy trying things to create their pizza just the way they like it,” said Brenda.
Besides pizza, The Pizza Parlor recently started opening on Sundays with special menu items like pot roast and mashed potatoes or chicken and dumplings. “We used to not open on Sundays, but people in the community were having to drive 30 minutes to go out to eat after church, so we decided to try serving something different, and it has been extremely popular,” Brenda explained. “We always make a big batch, and serve it during the week until we run out. There are people that come just for our pot roast!”
The Pizza Parlor also has a baker, Ken Oehlers, who Brenda playfully describes as her “Beau-friend.” Ken has been baking his whole life. “Anything you enjoy, you get good at,” laughed Ken, who bakes several interesting cakes a week to serve at the restaurant. He enjoys trying new recipes and putting a new spin on an old favorite. He also created a featured dessert called Parlor Planks, which are warm pizza dough pieces covered with a cinnamon sugar glaze. The dessert is truly mouth-watering.
Another popular menu creation are pepperoni stuffed mushroom appetizers. “I had no idea so many people liked stuffed mushrooms!” joked Brenda.
Business has grown tremendously since first opening. The Pizza Parlor now offers lunchtime delivery within a 10 mile radius, and many local businesses, and even students, take advantage of this service. A growing subdivision close to the pizzeria has helped increase local traffic. Brenda is a big supporter of New Waverly High School, too, and always stays open late when there are home football games, so all the players and fans have a place to grab a bite nearby. “We love feeding the football team,” she said. “The community loves them, and we love that they can stay in the community to celebrate after games.”
The Pizza Parlor caters for a Bed and Breakfast in New Waverly, also.
Brenda has five employees that keep things running at The Pizza Parlor, which is particularly important, because she has another job as Food Service Director for Mims Baptist Church in Conroe, which is a congregation of about 3,500. Additionally, she has 2 daughters, 2 step-daughters, and 8 granddaughters she desires to spend as much time with as possible, so having a wonderful staff essential.
Above all, Brenda wants The Pizza Parlor to be a community gathering place. She wants to know her customers by name. To foster a deeper sense of community appreciation, she does a drawing once a week for a free pizza, and each winner has his or her photo taken with the pizza to post on Facebook. “People love to have their picture on Facebook!” Brenda laughed light-heartedly.
“I want this place to be another gathering place for the community,” said Brenda. “I want everyone to have a place to come enjoy a good meal and not be rushed, and get to know each other.” This writer can attest that Brenda has a special way of making each person who comes through feel like she is delighted to see them…probably because she IS delighted! Customers are sure to feel right at home at The Pizza Parlor.
The Pizza Parlor is open 7 days a week. Monday through Saturday they serve lunch from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm and dinner from 4:30 pm to 9:00 pm. They are open Sundays from noon to 6:00 pm. Their full menu can be viewed online, and be sure to call for specials.
361 Gibbs St, New Waverly 77358