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Family-owned Chicken Pie Shop celebrates 80 years in San Diego

San Diego's Chicken Pie Shop turns 80
San Diego's Chicken Pie Shop turns 80
San Diego's Chicken Pie Shop turns 80
Posted at 8:10 PM, May 10, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-11 13:45:44-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - North Park’s Chicken Pie Shop is celebrating 80 years in business Friday and Saturday with deals for customers.

The restaurant was originally located on 5th Avenue downtown. Then-owner George Whitehead moved his business to Hillcrest. The storefront at 5th and Robinson now houses a Starbucks.

Eventually, Whitehead’s longtime employee John Townsend bought the business and moved it to El Cajon Blvd. at Oregon St. Townsend handed it down to his two sons.

“Our father worked so hard for so many years. It’s a grind; you gotta be up for the task each and every day.”

Bob Townsend is proud of the Chicken Pie Shop's history. He estimates the number of chicken pies sold at more than 30 million.

“People just keep coming,” said Townsend. “They respect good old-school cooking.”

Townsend described customers who travel to San Diego and head straight to North Park from the airport. Others buy coolers to bring home some of the restaurant’s frozen creations. 

Some devoted patrons included boxer Archie Moore and Mesa College coach Bill Sandback, both of whom Townsend served regularly until they passed.

It’s not just the customers who stick around. The restaurant's dessert baker has been working for Chicken Pie Shop for 55 years and is now in his 80s.

“If I made him retire, he’d probably die,” Townsend said.

While Townsend is invested in the family legacy, his wife Lisa takes care of day-to-day operations while Townsend works as an instructor at Riverwalk Golf Course in Mission Valley. 

The Townsend family tradition may continue. Bob Townsend and his brother have four children combined.

Want to check out the Chicken Pie Shop? Anniversary deals include: buy one chicken pie, get the second half-off, and a chicken pie with gravy and a roll for $3.80.