The pizza world has never been the same since the first Me-n-Ed oven was fired up in Sacramento, California, in 1958. Russ “Me” Johnson and Ed Sandlin didn’t set out to build a pizza parlor empire – it just happened.
From their modest beginnings, Russ and Ed began selling Me-n-Ed’s franchises throughout California while operating their own restaurants around the San Francisco Bay area. Expanding into Fresno, Russ and Ed met Ben and Marcella Watters, who ran a boarding house and quickly became known for their frequent visits to Me-n-Ed’s. As the story goes, during one particular visit, a potted plant in the restaurant caught Marcella’s eye. She had to have it. When the owner refused to sell it to her, Marcella bought the entire restaurant. The plant was hers…along with the franchise rights to Me-n-Ed's.
Marcella and Ben moved the restaurant from the original Fresno location to a new site on Blackstone Avenue and joined forces with Bob Cox, who worked with a local baker to perfect a recipe for Me-n-Ed's signature thin crust pizza dough, which has since become the stuff of legends.
Through the mid-1960s, the Me-n-Ed’s name continued to expand throughout Fresno and Orange County, along with a reputation for making some of the best pizza west of the Mississippi. In the summer of ’62, Doug Price (Marcella’s 15-year-old nephew) ventured to Fresno from North Battleford, Saskatchewan, to soak up the California sun and work at Me-n-Ed’s.
By the time Doug graduated three years later, his Aunt Marcella and Uncle Ben had moved to Orange County, where they were operating Me-n-Ed's restaurants previously owned by Bob Cox. Doug left the prairies and headed to Orange County to go to college, but his plans quickly changed, and he ended up where he really belonged – working for the family business, Me-n-Ed’s.
The Watters continued the Me-n-Ed’s expansion into Santa Ana, Fullerton, Huntington Beach, Stanton and Long Beach. Then, in 1969, the Watters brought the Me-n-Ed’s name north of the border to Burnaby, where the first Me-n-Ed’s in Canada opened that summer – managed by 21-year-old co-owner Doug Price.'
Before long, the Burnaby Me-n-Ed’s had become a community fixture – albeit more of a pub than a restaurant. Customers would line up to listen to a honky-tonk piano and savour Me-n-Ed’s now-famous pizza along with a cold beer. As other neighbourhood pubs began popping up through the years, the Me-n-Ed’s atmosphere shifted to one of family, where it remains.
Even now, some 40 years since Me-n-Ed’s first came to Canada, you’ll still find that same cozy, neighbourly feel that put us on the map – whether you’re visiting a Me-n-Ed’s in Burnaby, Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam or Langley.