By John Mills 87OX 89C
Illustration by Jason Raish
At forty-one, Everybody’s Pizza in Emory Village was only a little younger than I am when it closed in March. It’s just the latest landmark in the Emory Village that’s now gone—but with this one goes an icon of my childhood.
I grew up on Clifton Road, and our phone number was one digit off from Everybody’s Pizza. Even up until last year, my mother, who still lives on Clifton, would occasionally get a call from someone ordering a pizza. It didn’t happen so often that it ever stopped being funny, so usually we’d be nice and tell them to just try again . . . and please be more careful dialing next time.
The owner has said in published reports that Everybody’s didn’t have to close; in fact, it weathered recent changes, like construction projects in the Village, just fine. He said he was just tired after more than forty years of running the restaurant.
I guess we’ll have to understand that, but everybody else wasn’t tired of Everybody’s. Not yet.
Everybody’s joins a list of memorable Emory Village establishments that, sadly for me, are now history: Horton’s Sundries, a five-and-dime with its vintage lunch counter, pharmacy, and video arcade; Oliver’s Pharmacy; Hero’s Deli; the Chevron and Burns’s Gulf “fillin’ stations”; the Lullwater Tavern; the Dugout; J. R. Cricket’s; Turtle’s Records; and let’s never forget Jagger’s, which since reopened and closed again in nearby Sage Hill. There was a Kroger, too, allegedly the smallest one in the entire chain. I worked there as a bag boy when I was sixteen.
After a list like that, why not also include “the Hill,” that long grassy slope where the Boisfeuillet Jones and Oxford Road Buildings are now. We high-schoolers from Druid Hills would gather and cavort on the Hill on Friday and Saturday nights. We’d dive into the bushes if the Emory Police cruised by. Once in a while we sneaked into White Hall to catch a free late night movie.
Today’s Emory students are usually surprised to learn that there was once a movie theater in the Village, too. I watched Star Wars there . . . five days in a row. (Yeah, I was that kid.) Admission was 99 cents.
I watched that movie theater burn up one cold winter day in 1979. The fire burned everything between Arlyn Worth School and Everybody’s, and my friend and I stood across the street at Burns’s Gulf Station and watched the white letters of the Emory Cinema melt and slough to the steaming asphalt. Everybody’s, the pizza place, served hot coffee to firemen that day.
I mourn the passing of Everybody’s a little more than some others. My entire extended family went for one final hurrah before it closed. There was a family pictured in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution along with the article about Everybody’s closing, leaning in for a group shot with the restaurant in the background, that could have been us. In fact, I went to high school with one of them. (I wonder if we were there on the same night and just didn’t recognize each other.) That night will be our last memory of Everybody’s, but now I realize it also might be the last vestige of the old Emory Village I knew as a kid and as a teenager.
Change is good, of course. The Village went through some hard times, but it’s prettier and more vibrant now than ever, and much better suited as the front porch of a world-class research university. A whole slew of great new businesses and restaurants have opened, and the roundabout that nobody was too sure would work at all now seems to me like a miracle of traffic engineering. I hear Everybody’s is going to become an upscale pub, serving hand-crafted beers and—yes—pizza.
The Village is still where I meet friends for lunch and family for dinner, so new memories are being made all the time. But it’s tough to lose the embodiment of so many old memories—four decades’ worth. It’s not quite like somebody died, but what’s been lost is the difference between being able to take your kids to the same place where you pigged out on pizza as a kid yourself, and just pointing to new places behind old façades and telling the kids, “there was once a great pizza place over there, and down there was Horton’s where we used to spend our entire allowances on video games every week, and over there was . . . ”
So now I’m just waiting to see if my mother ever gets another order for a large pepperoni pizza. I suppose she’ll have to change her usual reply to, “Sorry . . . wrong number. Everybody’s is gone forever.”
John Mills is associate director for digital initiatives with Emory’s Office of Communications and Marketing.