The Old Crystal’s Pizza & Spaghetti Building in Abilene Is No More
While only old fond memories remain of the building that was known by many names is officially gone now. It started out as The Chicken Shack, aka Leslie's Chicken, and was in business at 2201 South 1st St. from the 1940s until the late 1960s.
Then, in 1972, it became Tony's Pizza Cave, a fun place to go enjoy pizza and its arcade room. You entered the building through a cave-like entrance and as a kid in Abilene that was the coolest place to go into. It even had one of the first arcade rooms that I recall in Abilene, it had lots of pinball machines.
The owner was Bill Waugh and the first Managers were Jim Mitchell and Dwight Aston
Interestingly enough, Tony's Pizza Cave was the brainchild of businessman, and entrepreneur Bill Waugh. If his name sounds familiar it's because Waugh was the one that opened the very first and was the founder of Taco Bueno in Abilene (also on South 1st St). Bill's first managers were Jim Mitchell and Dwight Aston.
In 1975 Bill Changed Tony's Pizza Cave into what some say was his brightest invention to date, Crystal's Pizza. Dwight Aston the manager of Tony's in 1973 said that Bill had to change the name to Crystal's Pizza and Spaghetti because he could not register the name Tony's Pizza in Oklahoma because the Frozen Pizza company was based there.
Tony's was the first salad buffet in Abilene and Crystal's was the first all-you-can-eat pizza buffet, movie room, and arcade game room in Abilene. I recall in the late 1970s as a high school student in Abilene, Crystal's Pizza and Spaghetti was the place to hang out, eat pizza, watch movies, and play games with friends.
Crystals lasted until 1999. That's when the building at 2201 South 1st Street took on many different faces. Ruby's Chicken was open from 1999 until 2005. In 2006 it became the Taste of Asia Noodle House, (opened by the late George Kim entrepreneur, owner, and operator of AM Donuts).
The Taste of Asia was opened on February 24th, 2006, and closed in January 2013. The building remained vacant until Sweet Meat Bar-B-Q opened in March 2014. It was a restaurant and a bar and was only open for five and a half months, closing in July of 2014.
Since then the building has been vacant and for sale. Wayne Keith, McMurray University physics and astronomy professor and long-time friend of George Kim who owned the building told me that George was in the process of selling the building to Dollar General at the time of his passing.
Finally Dwight Aston the former Tony's/Crystals manager and restaurant owner said he was surprised that the building was demolished. We both agreed that only great memories remain.