FARGO & SOPHIA
Two brothers from the “Show Me” State of Missouri have built a living monument to pizza, a veritable showplace, at the foot of Pike’s Peak in the Rocky Mountains.
Fargo’s Pizza Company brings to life an obscure piece of mountain lore featuring the hard-drinking, straight-shooting, freethinking gambler named Fargo who prowled the mountain towns a hundred years ago until he met the beautiful Sophia.
Sophia, born to nobility, came to Colorado with her parents who fled Italy to escape political persecution. She fell in love with Fargo and changed his ways. But, alas, they had no means of support. But wait! Sophia had inherited the family’s old Italian recipes. They would open an Italian restaurant and introduce pizza to the Colorado Territory.
The reason this bit of history is obscure is because the founder of Fargo’s, Leon Gardner, created this story. “Thus, the legend of Fargo and Sophia was born.
This “legendary” pair have been reproduced in wax and sit at a balcony table overlooking the main floor at Fargo’s, setting the style for all the rest of the authentic memorabilia that was hunted down piece by piece to grace this Old West restaurant that basks in Old World opulence.
Fargo’s Pizza Company opened in December 1973 with Leon as chairman of the board and his brother, Landon, as president and chief of operations. It’s a sit-down family restaurant with a menu of pizza, pasta, sandwiches, soups, deluxe salad bar and desserts, along with a bar serving beer, wine, soft drinks and coffee.
It’s one of the world’s largest family pizza restaurants, seating 500 guests, having a total of 16,000 square feet, and parking for 175 cars.
Fargo’s is frequented by busloads of tourists as well as the many military bases, universities, colleges, elementary, junior, high schools, not to mention the many residents of Colorado Springs.
Authentic detailing of the Victorian period is carried out in the wooden structure. One hundred and twenty original leaded and stained glass pieces of art as well as countless pieces of authentic artifacts purchased in the Denver and Central City area have been incorporated into the structure itself.
Magic mirrors on the wall tell guests when their orders are ready. This was Leon’s invention before the dawn of personal computers. With a little tinkering and a lot of ingenuity, he came up with a mirror that unobtrusively displayed a number (no flashing neon) when an order was ready. The mirrors are situated in eight locations and are visible from any table.
Leon operated Fargo’s on the values of overall image, cleanliness, speed and friendliness of service, price, value accessibility, ease of parking and availability to customers. His family and great management carry on this same tradition.
This has been instilled in the employees at Fargo’s. “You don’t give excuses to the public,” said Leon. “You give service.”