This Photo courtesy Jeff Cushing of Ann Arbor, MI

The Organ Stop

1149 E. Southern Avenue

Mesa, Arizona 85204

Click any image for larger version

Robert Swirsky, posing for a photo at the console.

(The console was down in the pit when this photo was taken.)

Visit the official Organ Stop Pizza Website

Photo of the New console at Organ Stop
This Photo courtesy Jeff Cushing of Ann Arbor, MI

Quoting From the restaurant's menu:

"Organ stop's Wurlitzer theatre organ was built for the Denver Theatre, and was installed in 1927. The organ was used regularly until the 1930s. With the advent of the talking picture and the 1930s depression, the organ was rarely heard. It was silenced when a fire in the auditorium caused extensive damage to the organ's relay."

"In the theatre the organ was a style 260, having a three manual organ and 15 ranks of pipes. Organ Stop purchased the instrument in the early 1970s, and undertook the mammoth task of rebuilding the instrument. Several additions were made to the instrument by acquiring parts from other ill fated Wurlitzers. The resulting 23 rank organ was installed in our original facility in 1975."

Another view of the new console installed in 1997

"The enlargement and improvement of this instrument has been an ongoing project. In 1984, a new, larger four manual console was added to the instument. The new console is an exact replica of an "Art Deco: or "Waterfall" style console, a very rare version which Wurlitzer introduced in the late 1920s. Through the years, several rare sets of pipes have been added to the organ.

As of 1995, the organ boasts over 5000 pipes. The massive quantities of wind required for operation are provided by four huge turbine blowers (visible from the outside of the building in the blower complex). The resulting instrument is the largest Wuritzer theatre organ in the world!"

"The building design and organ installation is expressly for the enjoyment of patrons, installed in four chambers at one end of the restaurant. 43 foot ceilings provide for unparalleled acoustics. The console is "presented" by an 8000lb rotating elevator. Many of the percussions (such as xylophones, glockenspiels, drums, etc) are installed in the dining room for greated audience appeal."

-- End of Quote ======================================================================================

A Visitor's Comments: by Robert Swirsky

The console was built by Ken Crome. It is also interfaced with a some MIDI equipment, including synthesizers and sequencers. I heard organist Charles Balogh use the MIDI sequencer to drive the real percussions during some Latin pieces, and also sneak in some synthesized sounds.

The 32' Diaphones, to be installed very soon, were purchased from the now-defunct Organ Grinder Pizza in Portland. There is a glass tower at one corner of the restaurant, separated from the rest of the chambers, and visible from the outside, that will contain them. They'll speak through swell shades over the foundation chamber near the ceiling of the restaurant directly over the console.

Diaphones now live here
This Photo courtesy Jeff Cushing of Ann Arbor, MI

A new console is planned, to accomodate extra tab stops. Some other additions are planned along with the diaphones, to bring it to well over 70 ranks.

I wonder if the Sanfilippo Wulitzer, installed in a home in the Chicago area is actually bigger? The organ console is contained within a round stage, against the wall that contains the swell shades. When the console is down, it is complety hidden from the first floor--though you can see into it from the balcony.
This Photo courtesy Jeff Cushing of Ann Arbor, MI

The new building was completed in November, 1995, and was built especially to showcase the organ (and serve Pizza efficiently). We were there two evenings in a row, and it was Standing Room Only both nights.

The lift has a turntable on it, so the console can rotate about 180 degrees, 90 left or right. Two of the photos on this page show the console rotating.

Organ Stop Pizza can seat about 800 people on two levels. The building's ceilings are over 40'.

This Photo courtesy Jeff Cushing of Ann Arbor, MI

Yes, there are more than just puppets. Some of the things that can be controlled from the console were:

- an American flag on the ceiling that can be raised or lowered

- a projection screen and slide projector (for sing-alongs)

- a bubble machine (on the ceiling--I don't know how they refill it!)

- a mirrored ball and colored spotlights.

- chaser lights around the entire restaurant

I'm sure there's more--that's what I remembered seeing.

There are four staff organists. I heard Charlie Balogh play, but there's also Clark Wilson, Ron Rhode, and Mike Everitt.

I'm not affiliated with them in any way. I just ate Pizza there twice, (and they were kind enough to let me pose for a picture in the console!)

More Pictures:

One of four Spencer Blowers, visible through a window on the outside of Organ Stop Pizza.

In these two views, the camera hasn't moved, but the console has--it's rotating around. Note the art deco "Waterfall" design on the side of the reproduction console. Organist is Charles Balogh

Charlie Balogh playing, and another view of console ornamentation.

Four console-controlled Cat marionettes dance along to Alley Cat.

A tom-tom, wind chimes, and cymbal.

Telephone Bell, Train Whistle, Sleigh Bells, Horse Hooves, Wood Block, Triagle, Tambourine, Castanets, Tweety Bird, and Oogah Horn. Above are the transparent swell shades for a portion of the Solo chamber.

The upright piano, Bongos, Conga, Chinese Gong, and Pedal Tibia.

The Grand Piano, Duck, Bass Drums, Snare Drum

Trumpet En Chamade, located on the rear wall of the restaurant's balcony

Latest Information Update

As told by Charles R Balogh, Jr


I thought I'd pass along some info on the goings on here in AZ. Organ Stop Pizza has had an incredible amount of success thus far.

Our winter season broke any and all records. Although our summer season normally slows down quite a bit, we are still doing much better than was ever anticipated.

The organ is sounding better and better as we get the bugs worked out and a few more goodies on line. Over the next few weeks, the 32' Diaphones from the Portland Organ Grinder will be installed and fired up. We have the resonators on display in the dining room while final preparations are being made. Customers' comments have been quite amusing as they hazard a guess as to what these monsterous things are. A gentleman asked me if they were roof supports for a new addition.

A new console has been ordered to be constructed by Ken Crome and finished by Carlton Smith in Indianapolis. It will be a "Fox-sized" four manual affair. The console will be be in the french style for which Wurlitzer was famous and the decoration will be patterned after that of the Brooklyn Paramount (now Long Island University gymnasium) console. Basic color will be shiny black ebony with a variety of gold, silver, and copper leaf.

Lew Williams and I are preparing to record a bunch of material for CD's to be released in the fall. In preparation for the recording, Clark Wilson and Tom Hazelton will be spending several weeks here for extensive tonal work that is going to be done.


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