Klondike founders, Mike and Pam Dennis – a.k.a. “Musher Mike” and “Polar Pam,” met in 1977, while climbing the Chilkoot Pass, out of Skagway, Alaska, to the Noluck Gold Camp on the Noluck River in the heart of the Klondike Gold Country.
Mike, a wealthy used snowmobile salesman from Kotzebue, Alaska, was looking for adventure. Pam, a professional poker player, and Vegas lounge singer, was hoping to make some quick cash to pay off her massive gambling debt to the mob. If there was any money left over, she planned to stake herself in a big-time poker game back in Vegas. Will she never learn? Anyway, Pam figured the mob thugs who were after her would never look for her in the Klondike.
Love bloomed, and soon Mike and Pam married. One day, Mike chartered a bush plane and flew to Skagway for take-out pizzas for the gold camp. After watching the ravenous miners devour the mediocre pizza, they realized that their fortune was not to be made in gold, but in pizza!
Mike, whose mother was of Eskimo/Italian descent, had learned to make whale blubber pizza as a child and often bragged about how yummy his blubber pizza was. Since blubber was hard to come by in the Klondike, he experimented with moose, skunk (not so good), reindeer and porcupines (ever tried plucking a porcupine?). They opened the first Klondike Pizza in their tent and soon they were “rolling in dough”!
During those prosperous years, the couple was blessed with two adoreable children – Frankie and Deano. Eventually they all tired of the long winters (plus, the hot pizza oven kept burning down their tent) and decided to move to sunny Arroyo Grande, where Mike’s mother, Uglu-Maria was already living in a posh retirement home for Eskimo-Italian people. When Uglu-Maria heard their plans to open a pizza restaurant, she decided to come out of retirement and work in the restaurant with them. This decision probably had a lot to do with the fact that Mike and Pam had borrowed $50,000 from her. And she knew about Pam’s gambling addiction, so she figured she better protect her investment.
The first Klondike Pizza opened in the Village of Arroyo Grande in 1988 and since everyone liked their pizza so much, they opened a second Klondike Pizza in Santa Maria in 1996.
Unfortunately, Pam (not known for being very bright) never did pay off those gangsters. When they finally caught up with her in 2007, her only option was to turn state’s evidence and enter into the Federal Witness Protection program. We have no idea where she is.
Nowadays, Frankie and Deano run the Santa Maria restaurant and Mike and Uglu-Maria run the Arroyo Grande restaurant. She’s the crazy old lady in the mukluks who yells “mangiare, mangiare!” (Italian translation: “eat! eat!”) at everyone.
Okay, we swear that was the very last one…seriously.
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