In 1972, Pizza Works in Peoria Heights, Illinois was opened as part of a small chain of restaurants. Pizza Works nearly closed nearly 2 years later because of a sharp decline in customer base. This, due to an unrelated health scare at the time happening with another restaurant in the area. The Pizza Works as we know it didn’t start evolving until 1979, when Pizza Works was purchased, along with the entire building that sits on the property today. Pizza Works was renamed Peoria Pizza Works, and the new owners were Donald Besler, Sr. and his family. Peoria Pizza Works is proudly managed by family member Gary Besler, a.k.a “Turkey” Besler, and has been at it since day one.
Various types of entertainment was attempted at Peoria Pizza Works over the years. The owners tried karaoke night, which worked for awhile, but people got tired of it and left. They also brought in musicians and other bands, which also didn’t take off right away. So, in 1992, The Beslers’ family hired Jonny Quest for an Open Stage, which would occur on Thursday nights. Ever since the very first night, the music scene has taken off. Bands came and played for Open Stage, then opted to play at the venue. This tradition still takes place today. In March of 2015, due to conflicts, Jonny Quest was replaced with Brainchild’s front man Roy Ponce, Easy Riders’ bassist and vocalist Aaron Miller, and Future Funk All-Stars’ drummer Bob Kelly to host Open Stage nights.