Klondike founders, Mike and Pam Dennis met in 1981 at a blackjack table in the Noluk Casino in Skagway, Alaska – the gateway to the Klondike Gold Country.
Mike, a suave, debonair librarian from Kotzebue, AK, had wanted to go to Las Vegas, for his vacation but couldn’t afford it on his meager librarian’s salary.
Pam, whose stellar career as a supermodel had tragically ended when she tripped over her Chihuahua, Godzilla, and broke her hip, was the dealer running the Blackjack table when Mike sat down. That night, he lost all his vacation money, and his heart, too.
After a whirlwind courtship, they got married. Pam’s best friend, “Eskimo Elvis,” an Elvis impersonator by night and world-renowned pizza chef by day, performed the ceremony.
Mike got tired of being broke and quit his librarian job to become a professional gambler at the casino. Together, the Dennises bilked hundreds of elderly cruise ship tourists of their life savings and invested all of it in Alaskan oil. Soon they were rich, but alas . . . It was not to last. In the late eighties, oil prices plummeted, Alaska’s economy went into a depression, the Noluck Casino went belly-up, and Mike and Pam were broke.
One day, Eskimo Elvis suggested that they all become partners and open a pizza restaurant in sunny California. That sounded good to Pam because the cold Alaskan winters were killing her bad hip. Several months later, in September 1988, the first Klondike Pizza opened in Arroyo Grande, CA.
The early years were darn hard. Long hours, no money and no cruise ship tourists to bilk. Eventually, Eskimo Elvis left the partnership and moved to Vegas, where he still headlines today at the world-famous Ice Palace Hotel. Mention the “Klondike” and get 10% off the cover price!
In 1996, the second Klondike opened in Santa Maria and is run by the Dennises‘ cousins – “Icie Irv,” a retired igloo contractor, and his lovely wife, “Chilly June,” a snowmobile mechanic.
A few months ago, Pam underwent a hip replacement, and as soon as she is done with physical therapy and doesn’t need a walker (and loses a few pounds), she is planning a big comeback as a “Senior Super Model,” modeling trendy housecoats on the QVC network.
If you believe any of that, I’ve got a nice igloo to sell ya…
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