Years ago, there was a little restaurant on Stafford’s Main Street with a sign out front saying “Pizza.”

That’s how it was known until a family stepped in.

Now, it is “Elroy’s,” and its pizza is legendary.

And so is its family history.

In July of 1985, Leroy and Ollie Meyer bought that restaurant – because the lifelong area farmers wanted something different to do with their lives.

 Their daughter, Jennifer and husband, Todd Alpers, have since bought the place in 1995 and have since created a mecca for the pizza-starved of south-central Kansas.

As the family story goes, the name “Elroy” started as a joke for Leroy Meyer.

It was Stafford students who started the nickname – and he loved it, so, the name stuck.

That’s how the restaurant started.

But there is more to the story.

“I came back in 1995 and took over,” Jennifer Alpers said. “My brother bought it – it would have been in 1992.”

 Her brother, Jeff Meyer is the owner of Meyer Electric.

“My folks had it from 1985 to 1992. And then, in 1995, I came back on September 1, 1995,” Jennifer said.

And the date, September 1, 1995 is significant because on Oct. 7 of that same year was the first time Jennifer went out on a date with Todd Alpers.

“We got married in 1997,” she said.

Her parents both died in 2000.

 The couple have since raised their three children in the restaurant.

“People have asked us, ‘why don’t you move to such and such a place.’ Well, you can’t replace that much history. We have people come in and say, “I can remember being here when I was a kid.’”

The restaurant walls are covered in family memorabilia.

Both Todd and Jennifer’s families have lived and worked in Stafford County for more than five generations.

“She (Jennifer) trained her parents how to do this and she trained me,” Todd Alpers said. “She loves to bake. She’s the rock star.”

So, with the ovens going at a fiery 650 degrees, Jennifer laughs and explains, “The guy who owned it before my parents bought it gave me a day’s training. It was Basic Training and then you just do it.”

She tells the story of why they don’t use Hudson Cream Flour in their dough (although Todd worked there before they were married).

“It’s cake flour, basically,” she said. “It’s great for something where the dough can be fine – but we need sturdy dough. We need a higher protein content so technically, a lower grade flour.”

So as the years have gone by, Elroy’s has become a meeting place where locals gather to discuss the latest and where families and friends come to get great pizza.

“We are so lucky to have the community’s support,” Jennifer said. “I tell people that the whole town – the whole community – helped raise our kids.”