By Andy Tarnoff Publisher Published May 08, 2002 at 5:42 AM

One of Milwaukee's most unique restaurants is actually located just outside the city limits in Greenfield on Hwy. 100. Organ Piper Pizza, the only remaining restaurant of its kind in Wisconsin, is the type of place that makes the Chuck E. Cheeses of the world pale in comparison. It's everything you could imagine and much more. And if you think this is an overstatement, take the kids there and let them decide for themselves.

The pizza at Organ Piper (4353 S. 108th St.) is actually quite good and reasonably priced, but the food is hardly the main attraction at this lodge-like restaurant. Instead, it's the grandiose three manual, 27 rank Kimball/Wurlitzer pipe organ and its elaborate pipework that resides behind it.

It's quite a display. Wind is generated for the organ by a 10 horsepower turbine blower and is distributed through large bellows at the bottom of the glass display windows. The whole room shakes when the organ is cranked up for a big number.

Dozens of wacky instruments, musical ducks, lights and flags adorn the walls and round out this one-of-a-kind restaurant. And it's getting even bigger -- management says it will replace its console with a larger Wurlitzer-style organ in coming months.

The restaurant, opened by Gary Hanson in 1976, hosts some of the pipe organ industry's most prestigious musicians. The two current organists are Ron Reseigh and Dave Wickerham, both accomplished musicians, and they play regularly six days a week (Mondays are private parties).


What kind of music can you expect to hear on any given night? Current hits, polkas, TV show medleys, Beatles tunes, patriotic marches, you name it. The organists gladly take requests and banter with the audience in between tunes. Older kids: it's fun to play "name that tune" as your hear the old standards done "pipe organ style."

Be prepared for the kids to go completely gaga over this experience. Dancing is encouraged, and the bright, loud atmosphere -- plus a little arcade -- is the perfect compliment to standard pizzeria fare. Understandably, the restaurant tends to get crowded on the weekends, but since many of the diners are under 10 years old, it thins out a bit after 7 p.m.

Hours vary at Organ Piper, so call ahead just to be sure. You can reach them at (414) 529-1177.

Andy is the president, publisher and founder of OnMilwaukee. He returned to Milwaukee in 1996 after living on the East Coast for nine years, where he wrote for The Dallas Morning News Washington Bureau and worked in the White House Office of Communications. He was also Associate Editor of The GW Hatchet, his college newspaper at The George Washington University.

Before launching in 1998 at age 23, he worked in public relations for two Milwaukee firms, most of the time daydreaming about starting his own publication.

Hobbies include running when he finds the time, fixing the rust on his '75 MGB, mowing the lawn at his cottage in the Northwoods, and making an annual pilgrimage to Phoenix for Brewers Spring Training.