End of an era as Fred's Pizza shuts down

BENDIGO’S oldest pizzeria has served its last pizza.

Bendigo Pizza – known around town as Fred’s Pizza – closed  its doors on Sunday after nearly 50 years of business. 

Owner Vin Wiegard said he was sad to see an icon of Bendigo close, but was looking forward to getting his life back. 

Mr Wiegard said he had been renting the McCrae Street premises for the past seven years after original owner Fred Longano had owned and ran the pizzeria for more than 40 years. 

Mr Wiegard said his sons Leigh and Aaron had both worked at the pizzeria, and when Mr Longano decided to retire, Mr Wiegard thought it would be a good opportunity to buy the lease. 

The building is currently owned by the Catholic Church and managed by the Sandhurst Trustees. 

Mr Wigeard said the building was coming up for auction. 

He said a lot of money would need to be spent to upgrade and then maintain the restaurant. 

“When you are in business you have to weigh up the pros and cons,” Mr Wiegard said. 

“We have tossed the idea around for a month or so and decided the best thing for us to do was to stay out of debt and not buy the building.”

Mr Wiegard said it was hard to walk away from the restaurant. 

“You will hear people say it is the best pizza in Bendigo – Fred’s Pizza’s,” he said. “It is known around Bendigo.” Mr Wiegard said young people who had a night on the town would be among those who would miss Bendigo Pizza the most. 

“On a Friday and Saturday night between midnight and 5am selling pizza to all the young people in droves,” he recalled. 

“Fred’s special – the pizza with the lot – was our biggest seller.”

Mr Wiegard said he planned to have a break from business over the next six months.

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