Updated 11:30 a.m. Friday: Armand’s Chicago Pizzeria, a longtime establishment at the corner of Seminary Road and Georgia Avenue near downtown Silver Spring, has closed.
Ron Newmyer, who ran the family owned-restaurant, said Friday said his family decided to close the Silver Spring location of its pizzeria chain after 29 years of operation because of rising food and labor costs. “We felt like it was time to call it a day,” he said. “We had a very good run.”
The restaurant was the last of the small chain of family-owned pizzerias that began when Lew Newmyer opened the first Armand’s in 1975 in Tenley Circle in Washington, D.C., after tasting deep-dish pizza during a visit to Chicago. “He said, ‘Hey, I can be the deep-dish pizza king of Washington, D.C.’ and he was,” Ron Newmyer said. In addition to two pizzerias in the District, Lew Newmyer established a fleet of delivery trucks equipped with 550-degree ovens that were used to complete the baking of pizzas so they were delivered hot to customers’ doors, Ron Newmyer said.
The neighborhood restaurant at 1909 Seminary Road in Silver Spring, housed in a Tudor-style building in a row of buildings with a similar look, was popular with local families, offering weekly screenings during the school year of family-friendly movies accompanied by free popcorn and stations where kids could make their own pizza.
Newmyer, who has focused on running the catering side of the business, said the family decided to close the location because of shrinking profit margins caused by food costs that have risen rapidly in recent years coupled with hikes in the county minimum wage. While he supports “a good, strong minimum wage,” Newmyer said the recent minimum wage hikes mandated by the County Council made it difficult to stay open. “The three hikes, they’re tough,” he said.
Newmyer said the family was unsuccessful in its efforts to find a buyer for the restaurant. While the family has closed the last of its pizzerias, a franchise on Halpine road in Rockville remains open.
Newmyer, who lives in Silver Spring’s North Woodside neighborhood, said he will continue to run the catering business, which has developed a strong clientele of schools and youth groups and provides pizza for “a couple hundred events a year.”