What is your favorite pizza place in Fallon? Most people vote for the Pizza Barn. “It’s been the place where Fallonite people celebrate,” says owner Roger Diedrichsen. For 43 years, families and friends have gathered there to make birthdays, sports team wins, and other celebrations happy.
In the 1970’s, Carl Dodge, an iconic state legislator and developer, built a shopping complex with a pizza parlor in mind. Dodge invited his friend, Joe Ray, owner of Straw Hat Pizza in Reno, to consider opening a business in Fallon. The idea was declined, as Fallon was considered too remote. Then the opportunity was presented to the Diedrichsen boys, Roger and John, who had worked at Straw Hat Pizza during college and were familiar with the pizza business. They were willing to take the risk of opening a pizza place in a remote location.
In 1978, Fallon welcomed the new entrepreneurs and their unique pizza. With Joe Ray as their mentor, the Diedrichsens estimated that, in a small community, at least 80% of the people would try the new place within two months. If 20% decided to return as faithful customers, their venture would be a success. Soon, people started adopting the Pizza Barn as “my pizza place,” and the bills were paid the first year.
In 1983, John’s twin brother, Lane, joined the team, and as Fallon’s Pizza Barn continued to thrive, it soon became obvious that an expansion was needed. The three brothers expanded their business to Elko, Gardnerville, Reno, and Sparks. Five restaurants!
Soon, Pizza Barn had become Fallon’s most popular place for parties and celebrations. Eventually, the restaurant needed to put in an expansion for much needed dining space, kitchen equipment, and a second set of restrooms. In 2006, the newly remodeled restaurant opened and soon it filled up, with their fine reputation bringing in more customers, proudly backed with awards for BEST OF FALLON.
The Diedrichsens adopted a personal mantra to do business by: “Who is the most important customer you deal with? The one you are dealing with right now. Treat people the best you can.” To this day, they only hire positive, outgoing, friendly staff, who are willing to treat people well. Being family friendly is part of their outstanding reputation.
The Pizza Barn has high standards. They like to “shoot for the stars,” and aiming high has been rewarding. People appreciate a personal connection with the owner of the establishment, and Roger knows what many customers like to drink and how they like their pizza. Everything is about satisfaction, and if there is a slight mistake, adjustments are made, or a guest pass readily given.
Consistency of a product matters. The same rich dough recipe, which is mixed from scratch daily, has been used since the opening. All the tomatoes are bought as paste from the same company, out of Central Valley, California, and a special combination of spices and blend of five different cheeses are part of the secret recipe. The Pizza Barn always supports local farmers, ranchers, and businesses. The fresh vegetables come from local sources such as Lattin Farms, and often the Sungold cherry tomatoes are still warm from the vine when placed in the salad bar. Meat comes directly from Albaugh Ranch or Heck’s, while Valley Distributors provides drinks. The result is a unique pizza establishment.
Pizza Barn also supports the youth in our community, sponsoring many sports teams and events over the years. Their reputation of being family orientated is second to none. Two years ago, the Greenwave boys’ and girls’ basketball teams took State Championships in Las Vegas. As their buses approached Fallon, a huge order of pizzas was called into Pizza Barn. Everyone wanted to come HOME to celebrate at their favorite place.
The greatest satisfaction for Roger Diedrichsen comes from a reading program that the Pizza Barn developed: “Read For Pizza Sake.” Roger remembers struggling with reading as a child. He says, “I had incredible parents and my home was the best classroom. There were many books and magazines, but I was challenged and hated reading. I was forced to read 30 minutes every day before play time.”
When Roger heard that his daughter, Michelle’s first-grade teacher had a reading incentive program, he teamed with her, supplying pizzas as rewards. The program has continued for 31 years, and all teachers are welcome to participate. A letter of explanation and coupons are given to them at the beginning of the year. Teachers set their own criteria, with a focus on the love of reading for elementary school students. The reward is a personal pizza. When the child goes to the Pizza Barn to present their coupon and order, a BIG DEAL is made by the staff, complete with an announcement that a good reader is here.
Despite two years of recession and the current pandemic, the Pizza Barn has survived. Currently, curbside delivery is available and doing well. In store dining is very limited: a place that once boasted a happy crowd of over 200 is now limited to 40. There have been shortages of products, vendor issues, higher expenses, no salad bar, and no parties over four people. Still, the Pizza Barn stays in business. People continue to support “The Barn” and keep it alive through a difficult time.
Roger would like to say, “Thank you Fallon for the support through the years. Fallon has treated us well. I’m amazed to be in a community that looks out for each other.”