Diggins is back!

We didn’t exactly screech to a halt, but it was the tightest, fastest U-turn I’ve ever seen George make.

Back we went, both of us hoping that we’d seen the sign right. We had. Diggins is back!

Diggins Cafe and Fine Rock Shop outside of Kewaunee, Wis., was our favorite pizza stop until it closed last February. We were devastated. Owner Dave, with his jars of green and red secret spices, had found a job that would allow him more time with his family. He put the place up for sale–along with the secret spices–and that was that. I felt so bad I even wrote a blog about it. (Click here to read it.)

You know how it is with restaurants. They come and go, and when they’re in a rural area, the buildings often sit empty for years before someone else steps in. As often as not, it’s a new type of business entirely. We licked our epicurean wounds and set about finding a new favorite pizza joint.

We had just crossed yet another one off our list when we passed the Diggins location on our way back from Chicago and saw cars, activity, and that wonderful “open” sign. Today, to celebrate George’s birthday, we paid our first visit for the second time.

Frankly, we were a little nervous. The display cases were gone. Most of the fine rocks were gone. Would the secret spices also have been swapped for some dubious new-and-improved recipe? That was our first question as we settled at our table, the one by the sliding glass door that looks onto a view of fertile fields and Lake Michigan beyond that.

“The spices…the green and red spices…are the spices…?” I stammered out the question to the waiter, and heard the far-off voice of the new owner who had overheard: “The spices are the same!”

What a relief. We did succumb to the waiter’s suggestion that we’d love the new thick crust, even though we’re normally thin-crust fans. Pepperoni and mushrooms on the top, and secret ingredients that had haunted our hungry dreams since February. When it arrived at the table, the server actually waited to see our reaction to the first bite.

“Fantastic!” George announced.

George photographs the leftovers.

We still prefer the thin crust, but we both admitted that this thick crust is much lighter and more tender than most. Thick-crust fans would love it. Of paramount importance to us was those spices, and they were there, not overpoweringly so, but enough to insure that every bite was to be savored.

We learned that Dave is still on the scene, guiding the transition, but will gradually bow out of the picture. Ken is the main man now, a Wisconsinite who hails originally from New York. He makes a mean pizza, and he knows how to use those secret spices.

Our search for the perfect pizza joint is over. Diggins is back, and so are we.


About Monica Sawyn

I'm a retired newspaper reporter/columnist, and although I still freelance, I miss the weekly column I used to write. I still "see columns" in everyday life and need a place to put them after they're written--thus, this blog. I'm Catholic, have been a Benedictine oblate since 1977, and live with my husband and our beagle in Sturgeon Bay, Wis. When I'm not writing, I'm probably reading, sewing, taking photos or walking the dog.
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7 Responses to Diggins is back!

  1. yourothermotherhere says:

    Let’s see, that’s not actually all that far from me. I live in a small town with 3 places (count ’em 1,2, 3) and not one of them knows how to make a pizza. The only spice any of them use is salt – and enough of it to keep the local pharmacies buying high blood pressure pills by the truckload! Thanks for the heads-up!

  2. Sounds like we need to troop off to this place and try it! Nice to see a good spot survive in the country.

  3. sarahlmandl says:

    That pizza looks so delicious! I’m putting this on my “Places to Go When We Get There” list – which mostly consists of restaurants, anyway. =)

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