Original Red's Savoy (1965 - 2017)

Red's Savoy Pizza at 421 Seventh St.
Red's Savoy Pizza at 421 Seventh St
Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal
The Original Red's Savoy Pizza at 421 Seventh St. E. was a local staple for most of its 52 year history. The restaurant was a place people flocked to for great pizza and great conversation. It was a link between downtown and the city's east side and between its old and new worlds. Families with young children shared pizza moments alongside long-time regulars at this iconic St. Paul classic.

Earl "Red" Schoenheider bought the restaurant in 1965. A former bouncer and bartender at the Savoy Inn, a sometimes rowdy blue-collar bar at the same location, purchased it from the Morelli family. Soon after, he bought Sorini's Pizza next door and expanded his establishment. After tweaking the recipe, the location's super cheesy, slightly spicy, square-cut pizza with the garlic powder-dusted crust became a neighborhood staple.

Red's Savoy became known as one of the originators of the cheese and topping-rich, square-cut, thin cracker crust "Minnesota-style" pizza. The recipe for its sauce became a closely guarded secret that remains so today.

Schoenheider's renowned work ethic helped build the restaurant's reputation. His penchant for showing up to work 365 days a year -- including Christmas -- played well with his working-class clientele. Once his shift ended, Schoenheider would often find his seat at the end of the laminate-topped bar with an elbow rest for a beer, shot, and conversation with anyone willing to talk. Despite owning the place, he always paid for his drinks, and often those of the people sitting near him.

Red's Savoy was open for business not only every day but all day. The doors opened at 8 a.m. for those who worked the third shift to come in and remained open until the second shifters had all left for home.

Its prime location on the northeast corner of Seventh St E and Lafayette made Red's Savoy easy to find. Unfortunately, due to poor road design at the busy intersection, that credo was taken literally on more than one occasion. The building was struck by vehicles multiple times in the 1980s, 90s, and 2000s.

A high-speed crash into the restaurant in 1995 led to the death of a motorcyclist and his dog.

In 2004, after at least four collisions over the previous fifteen year period, city crews installed a barrier -- replacing a series of individual barrel-like barricades -- to prevent more vehicles from crashing into the restaurant. The 2015 redesign of the Lafayette Bridge moved northbound traveling traffic away from the restaurant.

The parking lot behind Red's Savoy was as awful as the food was incredible. Finding an open space in its cramped quarters was a challenge on many nights. If you were lucky enough to park near the building, you risked a white-knuckled, slow-as-you-go navigation back to the street when it was time for you to leave.

On July 25, 2006, the lot behind Red's Savoy made the local news. Eighty-one-year-old Norm Colemen Sr., father of Minnesota Senator Norm Coleman, and his thirty-eight-year-old girlfriend were cited for lewd and disorderly conduct for having sex in a parked car. Coleman Sr. was banned from the establishment for a year.

During his restaurant's 52-year history of ups and downs, the 6' 4", 240-pound Schoenheider was as generous in spirit as he was imposing in size. He remained affable throughout.

The brand had started offering licenses between 2007 and 2009, which were transferred to franchise agreements in 2012. In 2019, the 18-store pizza chain was sold to company president Reed Daniels, who'd been with the Savoy in various capacities since 2012 and was instrumental in the shift to franchise locations.

Schoenheider passed away on August 21, 2017, at 82. In his honor, employees and family members marked the spot at the bar where he always sat with an upside-down shot glass, a rose in his beer glass, and a cigar.

On August 29, 2017, just over a week after the restaurant founder's passing, his children decided to close the original Seventh Street East location. The building, which the family did not own, needed significant renovations. The family was working toward its closing, and Red's passing sealed the deal.

The Original Red's Savoy on Seventh Street was one of the places that defined St. Paul. It was unassuming, significantly more walls than windows, but considered something special. Nearly everyone who entered the dark atmosphere of the Savoy, for food or a drink, left happy.

This work is licensed under Creative Commons BY-NC 4.0


  • Evergreen, Callie. "Minnesota-based Red's Savoy Pizza Plans Franchising Push." Foodservicenews.net, Last modified February 26, 2021, Link
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  • Fleming, Jess. "The Original Red's Savoy Pizza on East Seventh Street to Close After Its Founder's Death." Twin Cities, Last modified August 1, 2022, Link
  • Gottfried, Mara H., and Tim Nelson. "Coleman's Dad Cited for Lewd Conduct Police Report Seeing 81-Year-Old and Woman Engaged in Sex Act in Pizzeria Parking Lot." St. Paul Pioneer Press (MN), July 27, 2006: B1. Link
  • Summers, Joy. "Original Red's Savoy Is Closing in Mid-September." Eater Twin Cities, Last modified August 28, 2017, Link
  • Staff Writer. "St. Paul woman dies after being hit by car." Star Tribune: Newspaper of the Twin Cities, August 27, 1995: 07B. Link

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