Lopiez Celebrates 2 Years of Rocking the Q-C With Live Music, Pizza, Beer - The Echo

Andrew Lopez recently attended Lollapalooza in Chicago, and as part of Alternating Currents in downtown Davenport, he’s celebrating his family business Aug. 20-21 on a smaller scale, in what could be called “Lopiez-a-palooza.”

Starting 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday (free admission), in the lot next to Lopiez Pizza (429 E. 3rd St.), the Lopez bros (Andrew, Peter and Mike) are having a second-anniversary party. Live entertainment Friday night includes the bands Road Soda, Druids, Pit Lord, plus sideshow antics by Matt Nicke and a drag show, with Saturday night bands Radkey, In the Whale and Horseburner, plus SCW Pro Wrestling.

Food trucks at the event will include Smash Truck, La Flama, Stevie’s Eatz, Cavort and Oh so Sweet. Vendors on-site will be Abernathy’s, Allied Barber, Brick & Motor Boutique, Monster Fest, Cloud 9, Gnar City and Ragged Records. Beer will be available for purchase from Rock Island’s Wake Brewing and SingleSpeed Brewing of Waterloo. In the restaurant, they always feature local beers on tap and other craft beers.

Lopiez is in the mood to celebrate after surviving the 2019 flood and 2020 pandemic, says Andrew, a 36-year-old alum of Davenport Central who opened Lopiez in June 2019, pushed back from the historic flooding that spring. He organized the punk rockers Radkey for Alternating Currents in August 2019 in a vacant space on East 2nd Street. “We knew right when we started this place, we wanted to be involved in music as much as possible,” Andrew said recently. “I’ve always been in a band since I was 15, 16 years old.”

He played guitar and started touring when he was 18. “I was drawn to music for some reason,” Andrew said. He moved to Denver when he was 21 to try something new when one of his friends moved there.

“I started seeking out bands, wanting to help with whatever I could do,” Andrew said. “I was also a tour manager for a lot of bands.”

He traveled a lot on tour, saying it was a crazy, humbling experience. “As a touring band, you don’t get much out there,” Andrew said. “Sometimes, you don’t even get paid for some of the shows you play and have to stay in the van. That’s kind of where my head was when I started the ALTA program.”

The ALTA Program Takes on a Meaning of It’s Own

Since Lopiez opened, the Alliance of Local and Touring Artists (ALTA) partners to create a slice of the month, where the artist gets 10 percent of the proceeds. “It’s worked out really well,” Andrew said, noting many acts donate their portion to charity. “We’ve got in touch with bands like Radkey and In the Whale – all these bands playing here have been artists of the month.”

They first met Radkey – brothers Isaiah, Solomon and Dee Radke, from St. Joseph, Mo. – in 2019, soon after Lopiez opened, while the band played at the old Raccoon Motel. “We were fans probably a year before that,” Andrew said. “They always throw amazing shows. There are some wild-ass bands. The fact they just got off tour with Foo Fighters, and they’re going back on tour with Local H – I’m so proud of those guys.

“That’s what we like seeing out of the ALTA program, or Lopiez pizza of the month – we love seeing these bands that we just really love, you know, succeeding,” Andrew said. “That’s all you can ask for; I think it’s really cool.”

With ALTA, anyone can be part of it, and they reach out to regional and nationally touring artists as well. “That’s part of the program – we want to make local and touring artists comfortable with where they are,” Andrew said. Many bands were planning to come in and play in 2020 when Covid hit, but they still created the pizzas each month, and Lopiez did carry out sales.

“That was a little harder for us at the time because we weren’t really sure what was gonna happen,” Andrew said. “It’s been pretty great; we’ve been able to keep up. We make sure we have the funds ourselves in stock. We both make money, and it’s great. The bands make money for recordings, tour, gas money, or a lot of them have given it to charities. I think that’s really cool too.”

Pizza Promotions

“Ever since we’ve known him, he’s always had that what we joke about, called the Denver hustle — where you’re always doing something or being creative,” said Nate Valdez of the Denver-based hard rock band In the Whale (which has played the Q-C a few times). “Now he happens to have a pizza place that’s doing the exact same kind of hustle. He’s pretty much kind of like a form of warfare, the way he does promotion and his videos, it’s kind of propaganda in a way, but it’s beautiful, very positive.”

Valdez’s bandmate Eric Riley said Andrew would go into bars and “pizza-bomb” them with slices. “It’s like promoting a band or a venue with pizza.”

Lopez moved back to the Q-C five years ago, after 11 years in Denver. “It was really fun stuff. It was never easy, but there were so many gigs and so many experiences that not many people get to experience, you know?” Andrew said. “Being outside of your comfort zone and still being in your comfort zone is a very rewarding feeling. At the end of the day, when a show goes right, whether you’re on the stage or you’re like being a tour manager if it works out and everybody gets off the stage, playing for a bunch of people is a great feeling.”

“I still love being in the scene, so I had to connect music with Lopiez,” Andrew said, coining the term “Rock ‘n’ Roll Pizza” for his business with brother Peter, who’s 29.

“Pizza is such a social food, you know? It really does bring everyone together,” Andrew said. “I feel like, any show you go to, any place you go to, pizza works – no matter what. You just open a pizza box. At the old Raccoon Motel, we’d take pizzas down and hand out pizzas at a show. There’s just always such a good party vibe.”

He worked for the pizza company Mellow Mushroom in Denver for eight years, starting as a dishwasher and working up to a manager and in corporate, traveling around the country training new hires in opening a new store. “That got me in touch with how to run a restaurant fairly easily,” Andrew said. “That was a great experience to have – I didn’t know it was going to lead to anything at the time. I didn’t think I’d go back home and open a store when I was there. I just wanted to get on the road and have a good time.”

Mellow Mushroom has over 150 locations across the U.S., including one in Iowa City (at Coral Ridge Mall) he opened before he moved back to Davenport. “They definitely showed me the ropes, for sure,” Andrew said, noting Peter has worked in restaurants and moved to Denver with him for about four years.

“We realized we were both good with our hands, good with food, creative in that way,” Andrew said. “We knew we both loved pizza, so we combined our experiences and decided there’s not too many thin-crust, New York-style pizza places around here, so we went in and just went for it.”

They ran up against some doubters who told them Q-C style pizza was already big around here, and they didn’t know what they were getting into.

“I think that’s why we want to do it,” Andrew said. “That’s like the factor – we want to give people another option they don’t have here. But in every other big city, they have pizza by the slice, people walking on the go. That’s what we wanted to show for the Quad-Cities.”

What makes Lopiez distinct, as well, is that pizzas are hand-tossed before the dough is even prepared. “It’s about the show, you know?” Andrew said. “It’s also about the quality ingredients. I think we hit the nail on the head with this one.”

One recent artist chose candied jalapenos, bacon, pineapple and goat cheese on their pizza. “It was the most epic slice ever,” Andrew said. “We like people to create ‘em themselves, and if they go too far off, we’ll reel them in a little.”

The August slice of the month by Horseburner features tequila-lime chicken, pico de gallo, Oaxaca cheese and fresh basil. Originally they wanted to use whitefish, scallops and shrimp, but Andrew had to turn down the seafood. “I didn’t think a lot of people were gonna like that,” Andrew said. “We want to sell the slice.”

The Horseburner proceeds are going to The Bail Project, which works to end cash bail, one of the key drivers of mass incarceration and structural racism.

They did have a one-year anniversary party outside last summer, in the same spot, while the inside was closed during Covid. They had three local bands (The Giallows, Pit Lord and Road Soda), and the SCW Wrestling. The team limited capacity to 250 people maximum and distanced groups in attendance.

“It worked out really well; everyone was happy with it,” Andrew said. “People were very courteous about wearing masks. We had no backlash or anything. We didn’t hear of any recorded cases. It was awesome. We knew this year we had to make it bigger and hope that each year, it progresses bigger and bigger.”

Despite the obstacles, Lopiez grew by leaps and bounds – opening their third location this past February at Analog Arcade Bar, 1405 5th Ave., Moline, after the second location for takeout and delivery only in March 2020 at 2832 Brady St., Davenport.

“It felt like a gamble we had to take at the time,” Lopez said of expanding. “Down here, we would not have been able to survive with how small we are. We had to get more of it, to do more takeout and any kind of catering.”

“It works out really well. For Moline, it was kind of a no-brainer – pizza and video games go together so well,” Andrew said. “You can have kids there until 9 p.m. You can have a nice family event. Kids get to play video games.”

They’ve had the food truck for over two years and started using it in March 2020. “It’s worked out really well. We love going to the breweries,” he says. “This year, we’ve mostly been hitting Crawford, Wake and Five Cities. We get a lot of private events with that as well – weddings, graduation parties.”

The catering business also has grown, Andrew said, with companies hosting parties. “That’s the great thing, too – pizza is easy catering. You can put together a catering order for 200 people very easily. It’s been fun.”

In Moline, Lopiez has a professional wrestling theme, including 8-by-10 signed photos. Their famous cousin is Colby Lopez (WWE name Seth Rollins). In March 2020, he created the “Primo”  (or “cousin” in Spanish) pizza – with pepperoni, bacon, green olives and oregano – for ALTA and donated proceeds to King’s Harvest. The seven-time WWE champion started The Black & Brave Wrestling Academy and 392 Caffé on West 3rd in downtown Davenport.

 

King’s Harvest is a no-kill non-profit serving the area to take in homeless and surrendered pets and finding them loving, forever homes. Colby personally matched the Lopiez proceeds for King’s Harvest, Andrew said. “He’s made a couple of pizzas for his graduating classes at the wrestling academy.”

 

“My brothers and I have always been into professional wrestling, I don’t know why,” Andrew said. “My older brother Mike, who works for us as well, he’s a big wrestling fanatic. It works out really well, especially with the vibe we have.”

 

ALTA featured film and TV star Tom Arnold (an Iowa native) in October 2020, who donated to the American Heart Association. His pizza included Meathead’s bratwurst, sauerkraut, onions, fresh parsley and a Boetje’s cream drizzle.

In October 2019, Peter Lopez traveled to Des Moines with UFC legend Pat Miletich and crew to see Arnold at the Funny Bone and help in shooting some footage for a pilot show idea. The Lopez brothers grew up with a steady diet of “Roseanne” on the tube, a show that Arnold worked on as a writer and actor, so Peter was excited at the chance to meet him in person, the Lopiez website says.

For more information, visit www.lopiezpizza.com.

Jonathan Turner loves music and loves writing, so The Echo is a harmonious marriage of his twin passions. A pianist for 50 years, his undergrad and grad degrees are in music from Oberlin and Indiana, and he’s an accompanist for Zion Lutheran Church, Davenport. Turner has covered the Q-C arts and culture scene since 1995, including for the Dispatch-Argus and Quad-City Times, and for QuadCities.com and WVIK since March 2020.

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