Dirty Dave’s Pizza – A Local Legend

Originally Pulished April 2017

In this issue we’d planned to do a profile of Gregory Wilson and Dirty Dave’s Pizza Parlor, a local family run institution that’s been in Lacey since 1972. Dirty Dave’s is a go-to for family gatherings, kid’s birthday parties, and all sorts of other shindigs. They have rooms you can reserve for big groups, games for kids to play, and a solid menu of pasta, grinders, and pizza that is full of crowd-pleasers. Long time fans of the restaurant appreciate the creative menu (cashews on pizza!) and the laid back atmosphere. Dirty Dave’s is a place where people of all ages can be themselves. It’s named for the founder Dave Wilson, who passed away in 2013. Wilson was considered to be a congenial pillar of the community.  The Dirty Dave’s website describes him as a man with a strong sense of humor and a particular skill at gambling. The restaurant is now run by Dave’s son, Greg.

Greg isn’t one for profiles. He shies away from the limelight. When I talked to him about my assignment to write about him and about his business, he asked if he could donate the profile space to the local non-profit called Homeless Backpacks. He and his wife are very involved in Homeless Backpack’s work, and he would rather the attention go to them. I asked my publisher, who said forge ahead as Greg directed.  So he sent me to his wife Kelly, who told me a little bit about their work…

 Kelly is a founding board member of Homeless Backpacks. The organization was created out of a conversation with a group of friends who wanted to make a difference in the local homeless community. These were all mothers, grandmothers, and aunts who especially wanted to be able to support homeless youth. They wanted to help, so they asked around to find out where the gaps were in services to homeless youth. They found out that homeless students receive free breakfast and lunch during the school week and often had little or no access to food on the weekends, so they decided to start a program that would send them home on Friday afternoons with backpacks full of food that they could eat over the weekend. There it was. The way they could make a difference.

Homeless Backpacks serves South Sound middle and high school students who have no permanent address. They may be living in shelters with their families, or staying with different friends every night. They may be runaways. They may be hard to spot because of their efforts to blend in with the rest of their community. It’s the mission of Homeless Backpacks to help them make a successful transition to adult life. The organization supports seven school districts: North Thurston, Olympia, Yelm, Tumwater, Rochester, Tenino, and Rainier. They also serve elementary schools in Yelm, Rainier, Rochester, and Tenino. Their vision is that hunger never gets in the way of an education.

Kelly says that her work with Homeless Backpacks feeds her, rather than drains her. It’s an all-volunteer organization with no paid employees. Kelly feels like all of those volunteers are some of the kindest, brilliant, and generous people on the planet. For her, working with the other volunteers at Homeless Backpacks never stops being fun.

Greg and Kelly both believe that business thrives in a healthy, vibrant community. They know that getting involved in local organizations and causes helps keep the community strong – and that is a win for everyone.

At a minimum, the Homeless Backpack program ensures that school counselors see some of our community’s most vulnerable children each week when they come to pick up their backpacks. The counselors can then check in on the well being of the children, and offer services that help the kids stay safe and healthy and able to focus on their schoolwork.


To find out more about Homeless Backpacks, visit their website: http://homelessbackpacks.org/ or find them on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HomelessBackpacks/.

Donations and volunteers are welcome anytime.

            Dirty Dave’s is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner at their Martin Way location. More information and their contact information can be found on their website: http://www.dirtydavespizza.com.  Check out the COUPON on the back page, and when you use it, thank the staff at Dirty Dave’s for supporting Buy Local AND for their strong support of Homeless Backpacks.

No one likes hunger, and this story gives you two great ways to solve it.