MICHIGAN CITY, Ind. – For 53 years, Albano’s has served up classic pizza in Michigan City.  How popular is the pizza?  First, Albano’s doesn’t deliver.   Second, the “I Love Albano’s Pizza” Facebook page (created by a fan) has 1,175 members from Australia to Arizona.

Jim Albano Jr. marvels at the success of the restaurant that was started by his dad, Jim, and his uncle, Russell, in 1957.

“Pizza is what we’re known for,” says Albano, “but we also serve a lot of Italian beef sandwiches and tacos.”

If that sounds like an odd combination, Albano admits it is, but it’s also one that’s proven popular among Albano’s regulars. It came about on a trip to Chicago by his father, who bought some tacos there, liked them and figured they would be easy to fix.

“We were the first to sell tacos in Michigan City,” says Albano. A few years ago, the restaurant revamped its menu and when word got out, regulars flooded the place with requests not to dump tacos.

Albano says it’s difficult for him to pin down which pizza is most popular, but it’s fair to say it has cheese, sausage or pepperoni on it. “We don’t do a lot of exotic pizzas with pineapple,” says Albano.

That first restaurant opened in the family home when Jim’s father decided to knock down a wall and sell pizza from the front room while his mother and father, Frank and Rosalee, were out of town.

The decision wasn’t greeted warmly at first, but as the popularity of the pizza grew, Albano’s opened a separate place on Franklin Street. The home is gone now, but the first restaurant is still there. Since then, the family has opened a restaurant in LaPorte and a carry-out only restaurant on Johnson Road between Michigan City and LaPorte.

“We’re very family oriented,” says Albano. “Everything we sell comes from family recipes. It’s good, quality food, too. It’s very affordable. A family of four can eat cheaper at our place than at McDonald’s. You can get a pizza, breadsticks and a pitcher of pop for under $19.”

Albano says one thing he’s especially proud of is being a part of the community. “In newer communities that have sprung up, the restaurants are all chains. There are no independents like us.”

Albano’s has done well for half a century by sticking to the basics. When things at the restaurant change, customers let Albano know. But one recent change is creating a new generation of fans.

The restaurant on Johnson Road hosts birthday parties for youngsters where each one gets to make their own personal pizza and cook it while getting a tour of a kitchen?

For more information on Albano’s Pizza, stop by 1612 Franklin St., Michigan City, or call (219) 872-0571.