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Prince of pies: Roe celebrates 40 years of pizza in Sioux City
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Prince of pies: Roe celebrates 40 years of pizza in Sioux City

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SIOUX CITY | Bob Roe doesn't believe in retirement.

At age 79, the longtime restaurateur still comes into Point After shortly before 10 most mornings.

"I don't bowl or play golf anymore," Roe explained with a smile. "Guess working in restaurants keeps me out of trouble."

Restaurants have been the Sioux City native's way of life for the past 40 years.

In April 1977, Roe opened Westside Pizza (1200 W. Fourth St.) in April 1977 with his wife Karin.

"At first, it was just Karin and one employee making pizzas while I made the deliveries," he said. "Man, those first few years were touch-and-go."

But Roe was slowly making a reputation for himself. That made opening Point After (in 1982) an easier decision.

"We learned what worked at Westside Pizza as well as what didn't work," he said, inside Point After's 2320 Transit Ave., dining room. "Through plenty of trial and error, we discovered we knew what we were doing."

Nearly five years ago, Roe expanded one more time by opening the North End Zone (4100 Floyd Blvd.), which is being managed by grandsons Jeremy and Jason Houser.

"The boys are doing great," he said. "They've been in the business for nearly half their lives and it shows."

In fact, Roe said he'd like all three restaurants to remain in the family. 

"Forty years ago, the restaurant business was simply a way to stay afloat," he said, shaking his head. 

But after serving famous athletes, a U.S. president and, at least, three generations of Sioux Cityans, Roe will finally confess to creating a legacy made of pizzas, burgers and wings.

"I couldn't have done it without my family, my crew and my customers," he said. "They've been loyal to me and I love it."

It's all about the pizza

Growing up in Morningside, Roe said the first pizza he ever ate was at Baxter's Pizza more than 60 years ago.

"Baxter's Pizza was located where Tires, Tires, Tires sits on Gordon Drive," he said. "Their pizza was excellent."

Nearly 20 years later, Roe took his family to a chain pizza restaurant.

"The place was packed and it was taking forever to get our order. We left before getting our food but I decided there was definitely a market for pizza in Sioux City."

That was important since Roe Dairy, a company started by his family, had gone out of business.

"At its height, Roe Dairy had 12 locations throughout Sioux City," he said. "We opened Westside Pizza on W. Fourth St. because it was the only building I still owned."

Roe said Westside's reputation was made by its made-to-order pizzas that were economical for families.

"Kids love pizza and so do their parents," he said. "At all of my restaurants, it's all about the pizza."

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This is even true at The Point After, which Roe described as being "a family friendly sports bar."

Lots of memorabilia

Sports memorabilia dominates the decor at The Point After. Roe said he has served such legendary sportsmen as baseball pitcher Bob Feller and longtime NFL (and Morningside College) coach George Allen.

The Transit Plaza sports pub also hosted Barack Obama when he stopped by in September 2012. For the record, Obama ordered a large pepperoni and gave a $5 tip.

For Roe, the most memorable athletes have been the high school ones who stopped for pizza following a game.

"My dad wanted The Point After to be a place where adults could take their kids," Roe's daughter, Terri Rexius, explained."This is always the sort of vibe my dad wanted."

Working for Roe off-and-on since she was 15, Rexius now runs The Point After alongside her dad.

"Bob's the brains," she said with a hearty laugh. "That makes me the brawn."

Rexius said she's well aware of the sacrifices her parents made while supporting herself, brother Bob Roe Jr., a meat salesman, and Amy Weimer, who owns Half Moon Bar & Grill with her husband Steve.

"I remember my dad working two or three jobs in addition to running a restaurant," she said. "Dad was willing to do anything to keep a roof over our heads."

Over time, Roe's businesses grew into a large employer. Currently, the three restaurants employ nearly 100 people.

'Where good times gather'

Reflecting on the past, Roe said the past 40 years have flown by.

Well, at least, for the most part.

"There are days when it seems just like yesterday when Karin and I opened Westside Pizza," he said. "But there's also been times when I can feel the toll the business has taken.

"When I was younger, I felt selfish being at the restaurant," Roe continued. "I'd try to make it to as many of their sporting events as possible but I was just too busy."

Rexius always understood. She credited her dad for providing the family with a healthy work ethic.

"When you're Bob Roe of Bob Roe's Point After, you better believe you take business seriously," Rexius said.

Still, Roe said running a restaurant also has been a lot of fun.

"You don't stay in this business if it wasn't fun and I like having a good time," he said.

"I've had employees who've been here for 20 years or 30 years. We have a lot of good people here."

Roe also could point out he has a lot of good food.

Indeed, his favorite pizza remains the same now as it was 40 years ago.

"I've never wanted fancy topping or anything like that," he said, grinning. "Give me a large pizza with pepperoni, hamburger and plenty of olives and I'll be a happy guy."

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