Klondike founders, Mike and Pam Dennis – a.k.a. “Musher Mike” and “Polar Pam,” first met in 1974 on the Noluk River in the Klondike Gold Country of Alaska. Mike, a bankrupt air-conditioning salesman from Nome, had left home in search of a fast buck. He (being the sharp guy he is) figured gold panning was just the ticket.
Pam, a professional mime …Okay, let’s stop right here and give you a little background information on Pam. When she was in her “terrible twos,” she was constantly throwing tantrums to get attention which annoyed everyone in her family. When her Uncle Marcel Marceau (the world famous mime) came to visit and witnessed one of these awful tantrums, he taught her to pantomime a tantrum which turned out to be pretty darn funny to watch. Think about it – a silent tantrum! The silent tantrums made everyone laugh, and little Pammy enjoyed all the attention she was getting, so she did them everywhere. By the time Pam was four, she was touring the world with Uncle Marceau and making frequent T.V. appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show and The Red Skelton Show. Probably some of our older customers may remember the actual tantrum she threw on The Ed Sullivan Show when she found out she was going to share the spotlight with that obnoxious mouse puppet -Topo Gigio, that Ed had on all the time. You can see Topo and Ed at this link: https://youtu.be/aeEptJ4aUeM
Back to the story …
The day that Mike and Pam met, Mike had been camped out for months on the Noluck River, panning for gold, 24-7. Pam was on vacation with her mime troupe and was upriver, pantomiming panning for gold, when Mike noticed her. At first, he thought she was extremely annoying because she kept hopping up and down, silently yelling “Gold! Gold!” while pretending to pluck large nuggets of gold out of the river, while he was finding nothing but silt. But soon love bloomed, and they married. Pam retired from the mime troupe, and they settled down in a cozy cabin along the river and panned for gold together.
One day, Pam drove the family dog team (F.D.T.) to Skagway for some take-out pizzas for the other miners along the river. As the ravenous miners devoured the mediocre pizzas, Mike and Pam realized that their fortune was not to be made in panning for gold, but in pizzas! They immediately turned their cabin into the first Klondike Pizza restaurant and soon they were rolling in dough!
Eventually, they tired of the long winters and moved to Arroyo Grande, opening the first Central Coast Klondike Pizza in 1988. In 1996, the second Klondike opened in Santa Maria and is run by “Iceberg Irv” (a former igloo contractor) and “Juneau June.” If you’re in our Santa Maria restaurant, say “hi” to June so you can hear her interesting South Alaskan accent.
Once in a while, on Saturday nights in the Arroyo Grande restaurant, Pam still does her old mime act – but only when Mike is not around. For some strange reason (go figure), he finds it very annoying.
Still want more? Click here to read the Bona Fide Klondike Story