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Gino's Pizza gears up for 50th anniversary at the Pub

Mar. 24, 2011 @ 12:00 AM

On April 1, 1961, Kenny Grant opened the first Gino's Pizza and Spaghetti at 29th Street. To commemorate the upcoming 50th anniversary of the chain, a special party is being planned for the parking lot of Gino's Pub on 5th Avenue on Friday and Saturday, April 1 and 2.

"I think we have the most loyal customers in the world, and I'd like to thank them," said Grant, the owner and founder of Gino's. "When we started in 1961, there were only two pizza places in town: Monty's and Johnny Angelo's. To last this long with all the competition now, we've been very fortunate."

Today, the Ginos chain extends all over the state of West Virginia with 11 company-owned restaurants and dozens of franchises.

The weekend long party will kick off at 6 p.m. Friday, April 1, with a free country music concert headlined by Kala Dehart and Rivertown.

"Rivertown is just an excellent, excellent group, and Kala Dehart sings a mixture of folk, country and pop style songs," Grant said. "She sings a lot of songs in the same style as Carrie Underwood."

Dehart and Rivertown will perform until 8 p.m. and be followed by Ricky Huckaby, son of former Marshall University basketball coach Rick Huckaby.

"Ricky lives in Nashville now and sings country music. When his father was basketball coach here, Ricky would come up to the Pub after every basketball game and entertain. We watched him grow up. When we asked him to come up, he was honored to come back up because he remembered when we had live entertainment here." Huckaby will be on stage from 8:15 p.m. until 10:15 p.m.

The entertainment will continue at 7 p.m. Saturday, April 2, with a performance by pianoman Dick Lucas, a staple performer from the Pub's early years.

"Dick Lucas is more of a Floyd Cramer style musician," Grant said. "When we first opened the Pub, Lucas played for us regularly for 12 years. He's just a dynamite piano performer and an all-around nice guy."

After the show, there will be a drawing for a variety of prizes, including Marshall University season football tickets, two tickets to the Friends of Coal Bowl and a night's stay at the Greenbrier resort.

Throughout the weekend, Gino's will offer an assortment of specials to tie into the anniversary event. Customers can enjoy special pizza deals to mark the eatery's anniversary. There is also a pick-up special of a pepperoni pizza for $5.99 and a 9-inch steak sandwich with fries for $4.61. In addition to the Pub, the specials will be available throughout the weekend at the Barboursville, Proctorville, Lavalette, Milton, 10th Street, Walnut Hills, Wayne, 14th Street West and Route 2 Lesage locations.

While the party will be finished Sunday, April 3, a large crowd is expected at the Pub to watch a screening of Wrestlemania XXVII. The show will be headlined by two title matches with John Cena challenging the Miz and Edge defending his title against Alberto Del Rio.

"You draw a different crowd for wrestling," Grant said. "We have nine flat-screen high-definition televisions. We have people show up as early as 1 p.m. to claim their seats, even though the main show doesn't start until 8."

Gino's Pub is located at 2501 5th Ave. in Huntington. It is open from 11 a.m. until midnight from Monday through Saturdays and from noon until midnight on Sundays. Cash and most major credit/debit cards are accepted. No American Express cards are taken at this time. For a carryout order or more information, call 304-529-6086. An online menu and additional locations can be found at http://www.ginospizza.com.

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