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Panjo's Pizza: An after the game tradition has been put on hold

The 56-year-old restaurant has become a tradition for players and families to enjoy, but the coronavirus pandemic has affected that.

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — This week on the 3News Sports Blitz, we are highlighting after game hangout Panjo's Pizza in Corpus Christi.

This 56-year-old restaurant has become a tradition for players and families to enjoy, but the coronavirus pandemic has affected that.

"When my dad was probably in his 30s, he and my mom were both working in and out of here," manager Katlyn Garrett said. "They would deliver and the owner at the time actually offered my dad to buy Panjo's."

In 1991, Garrett's family became the third to own Panjo's Pizza on Airline Road.

"Growing up, we all played sports and even our teams would come here and have pizza and stuff after the game," Garrett said.

For 55 years, win or lose, Panjo's was the place to be after a Friday Night Texas High School Football game or any celebration.

"It was more of like a gathering place, people come, have fun, play games, listen to pizza and listen to Bubba," she said.

Bubba Jacobs -- an iconic pianist played at Panjos for 50 years, most popular on Wednesdays when he would host a sing along at the restaurant.

Sadly, Bubba passed away in 2014 at the age of 85 and a year later, Katlyn's dad Jimmie Garrett died.

In March, the restaurant was forced to close its dining room for a couple of months when the COVID-19 pandemic traveled to Corpus Christi.

"All of our customers are family so I can't ask about like how their kids are doing and stuff like that because I don't get to have that conversation," Garrett said. "I can't get too close."

But in a time, where many local restaurants across the country were forced to close down, Panjo's business continued to thrive via curbside pickup.

"We've been very, very fortunate with the customers that we have," Garrett said. "They are so loyal to us that we have a lot of them come every single day trying to keep us in business."

With their dining room back open, customers and staff are required to wear masks and social distance.

Garrett said this football season their tables haven't been filled with the typical jerseys and families after because they still can't seat large parties.

It's a tradition they can't wait to see again.

"Hopefully, we'll get this over with soon so we can get back to the normal Friday nights and weekends and big parties and stuff like that," Garrett said.

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