Organ Stop Pizza

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It may be one of Arizona’s best kept secrets. We’ll visit a Mesa restaurant where music, not food, is the main entrée. Organ Stop Pizza touts the world’s biggest Wurlitzer organ with nearly 6,000 pipes, 17 percussion instruments and two pianos. Originally installed at the Denver Theatre to accompany silent films, Organist Charlie Balogh says the additions and improvements that Organ Stop has made puts the organ’s replacement value at more than $4 million.

Ted Simons: It's not often you find a pizza place that emphasizes entertainment over pepperoni. Producer Christina Estes and photographer Juan Magana take us to a restaurant where the food isn't necessarily the focus.

Christina Estes: While pizza is part of the name at Organ Stop --

Jack Barz: We're more of an attraction than a restaurant.

Christina Estes: And this is the main course.

Charlie Balogh: This is probably the most unique musical instrument ever built.

Christina Estes: Originally built in 1927 to accompany silent movies at the Denver Theater, the mighty Wurlitzer organ made its way here more than years later to be restored and improved.

Jack Barz: It's a combination of many organs installed throughout the country, as well as some that have come over from England.

Christina Estes: Charlie Balogh is at one of the places known as pizza and pipes.

Charlie Balogh: I play the pipe organ in a pizza parlor. You know, they get that look.

Christina Estes: This is the look they get when Charlie plays.

Christina Estes: The console where he sits produces no sound on its own. It features a bunch of keys and buttons and switches, more than 1,000 in all, and they control nearly 6,000 pipes, 17 percussion instruments and two pianos.

Charlie Balogh: The boiler room is where all the air is generated for the organ. There are four different blowers in there, and they turn out compressed air at about 15,000 cubic feet a minute. That is channeled into the organ regulators. I always tell people looking at the blower room is like looking at the boiler room of the Titanic.

Christina Estes: Between slices, sips and songs, the audience gets a music lesson.

Charlie Balogh: I'll take you on a quick tour of the room. The pipes sound like a group of birds. Cow bells, even a set of horses hooves.

Christina Estes: There's something pretty amazing the audience can't see from the dining room, a dozen towering pipes, the largest stretching 36 feet high.

Charlie Balogh: It produces one note at 16 cycles a second and a 7.5 on the Richter scale. If you're watching T.V. and are having dinner and you feel the ground shaking underneath you, it's just me.

Jack Barz: People will be in here and I'll be talking to them and they'll be like "Gosh, we had no idea this place was around." You know, then sometimes you could be in places like Taiwan, people that are visiting, overseas visiting something and they live in Arizona, they will be talking to people about where they live. They will say, have you been to Organ Stop?

Christina Estes: Once they have, they can see and hear what's believed to be the biggest Wurlitzer organ in the world.

Ted Simons: In 1927 Wurlitzer organ cost about $35,000. Organ Stop Pizza estimates today's replacement value at more than $4 million.

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