I admit, I wasn’t a believer. I was at a friend’s house a few months ago and she invited me to stay for dinner. Dinner which would involve her driving about eight miles one way, ordering the pizza, driving eight miles back, and cooking it. I reluctantly tagged along to the Papa Murphy’s in a neighboring town to see what the hype was all about.
Holy pepperoni, this pizza is delicious. I was so sold, in fact, that I explained to my skeptical husband that he needed to try it. On this past Valentine’s Day, I headed to Papa Murphy’s and ordered the $7 heart-shaped pizza. I was informed that for $3 more, I could add a S’mores Dessert Pizza. Done.
My husband is now a believer. And now, since this past January, Claremore has a Papa Murphy’s. Winner, winner, pizza dinner!
Papa Murphy’s is like a Subway for pizza lovers. Customers enter and place an order, and the pizza is assembled right then. Right in plain view. All of the ingredients are fresh. Produce is chopped by hand, in the store, every day. The cheese arrives in 40-pound blocks and is grated on-site. Dough is made daily. Nothing is ever frozen. As the company’s website accurately states, it’s “scratch-made magic.” There is such a difference between Papa Murphy’s quality and that of a delivery pizza or, even worse, a FROZEN pizza.
The Claremore store is owned and operated by a young man named Justin Morrow. I was curious as to how he, a Fort Gibson native, came to open a Papa Murphy’s store in Claremore. Justin has quite the restauranteur background. As a child, his grandfather owned a string of Western Sizzlin’ restaurants (we used to have one, remember?), and Justin worked there at an early age. His dad joined in the Western Sizzlin’ movement and was able to retire after a few years. Shortly after, Justin’s mom returned from a trip out of town and mentioned a great pizza that she’d had…at a then little-known Papa Murphy’s. In 2009, the Morrow family opened a Papa Murphy’s in Muskogee, where Justin learned the ropes and worked diligently enough to open his own store.
The store is doing well, and Justin said that every morning when he pulls into the parking lot, he’s overwhelmed with a sense of surrealism. He knows he’s young, but he’s worked hard to be where he is and feels blessed at all he’s been able to accomplish. He is actively involved in both the Muskogee and Claremore stores and spends a lot of time on the road each day. His original plans of college and pre-med have been set aside for his current dream. He’s obviously not afraid of getting his hands in the dough, as he was making pizzas for a customer when I stopped by to meet him last week.
The most popular pizza at Papa Murphy’s is pepperoni. A large will cost you $10. That’s it. Other options on the menu are the Thin Crust deLITE pizzas, which are a bit more healthy, I suppose, with flavors such as Herb Chicken Mediterranean, Veggie and Gourmet Chicken Garlic. If you feel like something more substantial, try something from the Stuffed line. I asked Justin what a Stuffed pizza was, and from his explanation, I thought it was similar to a calzone. Then he showed me a photo. It’s a layer of pizza dough, then toppings, then cheese, then ANOTHER layer of dough, toppings and cheese…it’s like a double pizza. It weighs FOUR POUNDS. Of course, there is always the Create Your Own option, too. Sizes available are large and family size, which costs an additional two bucks. Prices range between $10 – $14. That’s much cheaper than a delivery pizza. For the kiddos, try a Mini Murph, which is a kid’s size Make ‘N’ Bake Pizza Kit for $4.
If you’re not in the mood for pizza, there are salads, lasagna and calzones on the menu. And then…drumroll, please…the desserts. Every single other pizza joint has one option for dessert, usually: cinnamon sticks. Not at Papa Murphy’s! I mentioned the S’mores Dessert Pizza earlier, and it’s incredibly yummy. On my first Papa Murphy’s trip, I had the Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, and it made some fabulous cookies. I told Justin that the only dessert I hadn’t tried was the Cinnamon Wheel. Could he tell me what it was? He told me it was pizza dough, topped with oats and cinnamon, accompanied by cream cheese frosting. I’m a chocolate girl, so I wasn’t really sold. He sent one home with me to try. I ate half of it for dinner. Yes. I am openly admitting that I single-handedly ate half of an entire dessert pizza for dinner. There is a reason Zagat has rated Papa Murphy’s Take ‘N’ Bake Pizza the Best Pizza Chain in America for three years running.
Papa Murphy’s Claremore is located at 1229 W. Will Rogers, in the old Tiny Cakes & Truffles location. They open every day at 11a, and are open until 8p, except Fridays and Saturdays when they’re open until 9p.
Go see Justin and his crew at Papa Murphy’s Claremore and experience Love at 425 Degrees. You won’t be disappointed.