Klondike founders, Pam and Mike Dennis, met at the 1972 U.S. Ice Dance Competition in Anchorage, Alaska. Pam was representing the U.S.A., and Mike (then known as Mikael Dennisovitch) was from Russia. It was love at first sight for both, and soon they married.
Mike became a US citizen – changed his name to Mike Dennis – and the two became the darlings of the Ice Dancing world, winning the U.S. 1974 Championship, second place in the 1975 World Championship and the Bronze in the first Olympic Ice Dancing competition in 1976 at Innsbruck, Austria.
In 1978 they joined the Ice Follies and for several years toured the world as the stars of the show. During those years they also did TV guest appearances on The Donny and Marie Show, Soultrain, Dean Martin and the Golddiggers, Carol Burnett, and The Andy Williams Christmas Specials.
And then … in 1986 while performing on a Carnival Cruise ship in Alaskan waters, tragedy struck! Pam was standing on Mike’s shoulders, about to do their famous quadruple air-flip and land in his arms for the grand finale, when the ship suddenly collided with a massive iceberg! Mike lost his balance and tossed Pam into the audience.
The ship did not sink, but Pam was trampled as the terrified audience dashed for the exits, which was pretty stupid considering they were on a ship. Think about it – where are you going to go? Left with a badly bruised tailbone and a fear of falling (Basophobia), it was time for Pam to hang up her skates.
Mike continued to skate for the Follies, doing a clown act, but he wasn’t very funny and when his contract was up for renewal – it wasn’t.
You’re probably wondering what this story has to do with the Klondike. When Mike and Pam were touring the world, the one thing they always complained about (actually they complained about lots of things) was the lack of good pizza restaurants. They decided that when they retired from the Ice Dancing World, they would open a restaurant that served the best pizza in the world!
In 1988, while visiting relatives on the Central Coast, they found the perfect site for the first Klondike and opened the Arroyo Grande restaurant in September of that year.
In 1996, the second Klondike Pizza opened in Santa Maria.
IN 2010, Mike donned his skates again for Fox Network’s “Skating with the Stars” with Joan Rivers as his partner. They were eliminated the first week.
All kidding aside, click here for the Genuine Klondike Pizza Story.