CADILLAC — “Thank you for your love and support while we say goodbye to Dave Sr., our dad, grandpa and pizza legend.‘
This is the message written in black marker currently hanging in the front window of Pizza Plus, the pizzeria owned and operated by the Kennard family, who announced the restaurant would be closed today and Wednesday.
Pizza Plus, formerly known as Dave and Jim’s Pizzeria, is a Cadillac landmark and one of its founders, Dave Kennard, passed away Friday at the age of 91.
According to his obituary, which was published in Monday’s Cadillac News, upon returning to the states from service in the United States Army he was employed at a furniture company in Detroit while also working nights at a pizzeria. As an intern, he worked at the pizzeria long enough to earn the recipe for the pie.
He later moved to Alpena, where he started a pizzeria with his brother, Jim. After 10 years in Alpena, in 1964, he moved to Cadillac and opened Dave and Jim’s Pizzeria on the corner of Mitchell Street and Pine Street.
Paul and Dave Jr. recall late nights working with their father in the pizzeria shortly after they opened the Cadillac location.
“I remember falling asleep underneath the table,‘ Dave Jr. said. At that time, Dave Jr. said they were open until 2 a.m. to serve the bar crowds — a long night for a youngster.
Paul said when he was in eighth grade in the 1970s, he remembers helping out in the restaurant on Thursday and Friday nights.
“This restaurant meant everything to him,‘ Paul said. “When he sold it in 1988, it was an eye-opening experience.‘
Paul said he worked in a factory for several years until his father decided to reopen the pizzeria in 1994.
“I was the first one to quit my job at the factory to come back,‘ Paul said. “And I’ve been here ever since. (Not running the pizzeria) was a wake-up call for everybody.‘
Dave Jr. said his father had more energy than anyone he ever knew; five minutes before they were to close up shop for the night, if someone called to order food, he would reassemble the kitchen and make the food.
Later in life, Dave Jr. said his father would sneak away from home and come down to the restaurant to help out. He also was an active walker and made it a tradition to walk around Lake Cadillac with family and friends on his birthdays well into his 80s.
“It started as kind of a joke,‘ Kennard said in a previous interview with the Cadillac News. “A customer asked me what I was going to do on my birthday, and I kind of joked and said, ’Maybe I’m going to walk around the lake.’‘
Paul said his dad was proud the pizzeria has stayed within the family; the third generation of Kennards is in the process of taking over the reins.
“We’re going to keep it going as long as we can,‘ Paul said. “He loved Cadillac.‘
On the Pizza Plus Facebook page, hundreds of people reacted to the news of Dave’s passing.
“It will definitely be felt in the community as your restaurant has been a staple here for so many years,‘ said Cadillac resident Rose Reed.
“Sending comfort for your family at this difficult time,‘ said Manton resident Vicky Vincent. “Three generations of our family have enjoyed your pizza and we appreciate everything you do.‘
Dave is survived by his wife, the former Ann E. Cadieux along with their children: John (Joie) Kennard of Boon, Paul Kennard, Joanne Kennard, Dave (Jan) Kennard, Chuck (JoLeean) Kennard all of Cadillac; seven grandchildren: Kenda, Craig, Erin, Holly, Nick, Elizabeth, Luke; one great-grandson, Mason and a brother, Jim (Pat) Kennard of Hillman.
The mass of Christian burial for Dave will be held 11 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 11, at Saint Ann Catholic Church in Cadillac with Fr. Michael Janowski as celebrant. Friends may meet the family Tuesday from 5 to 8 p.m. and the Rosary will be prayed at 7:30 p.m. at Peterson Funeral and Cremation Services in Cadillac.