The smell of warm garlic bread, tomato sauce and pizza dough has filled the streets of downtown Vermillion for half a century now as R-Pizza is celebrating 50 years of business this year.
50 years ago, Jeff Radigan created a Vermillion staple when he first opened R-Pizza in 1968. Back then, R-Pizza was the only pizza restaurant in Vermillion.
Current owner Brandon King took over R-Pizza in 2011. Since then, he’s run the restaurant with support from community members and USD students.
King said he was initially nervous about taking over the pizza shop in the small Vermillion community. He said winter break and summer have been the only challenges for R-Pizza, as that is when USD students are not in town.
“Overall, the community has supported R-Pizza,” King said. “It is definitely a part of the Vermillion college experience.”
King said R-Pizza’s recipes have stayed similar to the original recipes Radigan used. R-Pizza hand makes their sauce and dough, and they shred their cheese in the restaurant.
“(The) sauce and dough recipes are if not the same but very similar to the ones Jeff used but not everyone has used his recipes in the past,” King said.
Dylan Daniels, a nursing major, has worked for R-Pizza for the last two years. Daniels first started working in the shop and now works on the social media side of the business.
“It’s a positive and laid-back working atmosphere,” Daniels said. “It is a hard-working group and most of us are friends.”
Daniels said that on game days, R-Pizza is packed with hungry fans eating there before the Coyotes play. Daniels said the late night window is also a popular spot after the bars close downtown.
R-Pizza has also started hosting local live music for students and community members to enjoy. Daniels said his band, Baby D, has even performed there.
“I am a native Vermillionite, so I have been getting pizza here since I was a little kid,” Daniels said.
Kat Callahan, a first-year political science major, said she’s been coming to R-Pizza since the first week of fall semester.
“R-Pizza adds a lot to the community feel of downtown. The owners are super friendly as soon as you walk in the door,” Callahan said.
In a previous version of the story, former R-Pizza owner Jeff Radigan’s name was spelled incorrectly. The Volante regrets the error.