The name Zzano’s was known for two things – pizza and baseball.
Anthony “Tony” Stormzand opened his pizza shop first at 313 E. Main. This building was known as the old Music Hall which became the Masonic Temple. It was a three story building, the oldest building on Main Street at the time. The second and third floors housed the Masonic Temple and Zzano’s occupied the first floor. In May of 1971 the roof collapsed in a storm. The city condemned the building and though repairs were attempted, for Zzano’s Pizza, a move was in order. The restaurant moved across the street to the old Lowell State Savings Bank building at 218 E. Main and was placing updated advertisements the next week.
The name ‘Zzano’s Pizza’ was perhaps well known nationwide more for baseball than for the Lowell restaurant. Tony Stormzand not only played baseball nearly his entire life, but he sponsored teams for decades. The Zzano’s Pizza baseball teams were winning teams. The Grand Rapids and Lowell news articles proclaimed their winning seasons and successful tournament play. League sponsorship included; the Grand Rapids Senior Baseball League, Tri- County League, Grand Rapids City Majors and men’s and women’s teams in the Lowell YMCA adult softball league. Zzano’s teams played against greats who had played in the professional Major leagues and Hall of Famers from the Negro League. Even today you can find Zzano’s games on YouTube.
The men who played for Zzano’s were a family. In 1992, three of the Zzano’s players had played together for 37 years, and were still leading the league! One man who had been with Zzano’s for decades was Allan Baird. Al both played and managed for the Zzano’s team. Terry Bocian, Athletic Director and Baseball Coach Emeritus for Aquinas College, had this to say, “Al Baird and Tony Stormzand gave many young men the opportunity to enjoy the competition and camaraderie of baseball.”
Following Tony Stormzand’s death in 2003, a large donation in his memory was given to the Lowell schools, specifically “for kids who couldn’t afford to play baseball.”
"I asked Tony one time where the name came from, and he told me that once, while in high school, his last name had been misprinted in a newspaper as Stormzano. Some classmates shortened it to Zano, and it became his nickname. Once he opened the business, he added the extra ‘Z’ so it would always be the last listing in the phone directory, and thus easy for people to find."
James William Lowry
"Alway good to read about the Best Times. Zzano’s always has the best subs & Pizza. Especially when Joe Joe would set you up he was a master Chief at his job."
"Remember Tony and Al Baird well. Umpired many of their games. Al would catch and the only protection he would wear was a mask. Farm boy with huge hands and tougher than nails. Loved the guy!!"
Bruce Doane Jr.
"I still remember that place as a kid. They had awesome Pizza. His wife used to be my kindergarten teacher."
"I remember going there with my parents to pick up subs to take home. They were wrapped in foil and the cheese stuck/burnt to the top... they were hard to open but worth the effort! The guy that worked there was called "Zero".
"It was my first job. Loved Zzanos."
"Many fond memories of Zzanos and Tony lots of laughs and fun miss those good ol days."
"Least we forget the back room table for some friendly games."