Community Spotlight: Pizza shop owner at his best when the heat’s on

Ted Fry, owner and operations manager of Garlic Jim’s, tosses dough into the air at the Silverdale store. Fry balances the pizza business with his busy volunteer firefighting schedule with Central Kitsap Fire & Rescue. - Photo by Jesse Beals/file 2007
Ted Fry, owner and operations manager of Garlic Jim’s, tosses dough into the air at the Silverdale store. Fry balances the pizza business with his busy volunteer firefighting schedule with Central Kitsap Fire & Rescue.
— image credit: Photo by Jesse Beals/file 2007


Staff writer

When he’s not fighting fires, Ted Fry can be found tossing dough and topping pizzas. The Kitsap owner and operations manager of Garlic Jim’s Famous Gourmet Pizza in Silverdale and Bremerton is a volunteer Central Kitsap Fire & Rescue captain and serves on many committees within the fire department. Although he likes to keep his plate full with Garlic Jim’s duties, the Silverdale man finds time to battle blazes, repair computers and spend time with his growing family.

We recently stopped in Garlic Jim’s of Silverdale and chatted with Fry about his life and the many hats he wears.

Question: What is your favorite part of Silverdale?

Answer: It’s more small-town. It really was driven home when I bought my house 15-and-a-half years ago. It was a bank repo and I wanted it inspected but the water wasn’t on. I went to the water district to get the water turned on and they said “sure, no problem” and turned it on. I would have never gotten that out of any other city in the area.

Q: Why did you become a volunteer firefighter?

A: I’ve been a firefighter here in the district for almost 10 years, but I did it for six years down in South Carolina. It’s a way for me to contribute to the community and especially now it’s hard to recruit volunteers. This is my priority to volunteer for the community, this is what I volunteer for. It’s just a small part that I can do.

Q: Do you have a most memorable firefighting moment?

A: I’ve kind of got two, one was from South Carolina where I was on limited duty because I was injured. There was a structure fire and a firefighter was trapped and I couldn’t do anything. I did what I could on the sidelines. The other is the Kona Village Apartments fire in 1997. Fortunately or unfortunately that only happens once in a firefighter’s career. All I could see when I was responding to the station was a huge column of smoke coming up. Fire departments from all over the region were helping backfill stations that were empty. I spent 12 hours on that fire. Residents brought food and refreshments to firefighters. The community support for the firefighters was outstanding.

Q: Family, kids?

A: I have a wife, Margie, three grown kids and one fourth-grader. Daniel is in the Army, David works for Channel 11, Josh is a fourth-grader at Clear Creek Elementary and Katie works at Garlic Jim’s with me. I love having her work for me. Man is she great. I also have three grandkids with two on the way.

Q: What did you do in the Navy?

A: I spent a little over 20 years as a corpsman in the Navy. In that 20 years I spent more time with other services than on ships and Navy bases. I spent nine years with the Marines and four with the Army.

Q: What places did you travel to while in the military?

A: All over the United States. My last duty station was a ship, so I got to cruise the Western Pacific. I got a chance to visit Australia, Hawaii, Hong Kong, Singapore ... I spent a lot of time in the Gulf and Kenya. Most of my career was in the United States east of the Rockies. I’m originally from Toledo, Ohio.

Q: Do you have a favorite hobby?

A: I like working on computers. I run a small, part-time business repairing computers.

Q: How did you get started with Garlic Jim’s?

A: I was looking at doing a franchise and a friend called and said “are you interested in doing something like this?” He took me to the Maple Valley (Wash.) store and I sampled the pizza and that was the best pizza I ever had and now I’m the face of Garlic Jim’s in Kitsap County. There’s three other guys in the partnership. Between the four of us we have a plan of opening five Garlic Jim’s in the county.

Q: What is your favorite Garlic Jim’s pizza?

A: By far the chicken bacon ranch, it’s a fantastic pizza. Everybody in the store likes it. My second favorite is the Gourmet Garlic.

Q: What organizations are you involved with?

A: Right now I’m on the steering committee for the Regional Fire Authority (RFA), so I’m helping charter the waters for that. I’m also on the strategic planning committee for CKFR, so I do a fair amount of stuff for the fire department.

Q: What do you like the most about your job? The least?

A: With Garlic Jim’s, I think that one of the things I like the most about this is seeing results from the marketing. It’s a lot of trial and error. It’s a nice satisfaction when I’m able to test and find something that works. For firefighting, it’s just involvement with them (CKFR) because of the terrific career and volunteer staff. I have a lot of respect for both the groups. My least favorite for both is the hours. Most of the time with the fire department the hours start at 2 a.m.

Q: Do you think the merger of CKFR, South Kitsap Fire & Rescue and Bremerton Fire Department would be beneficial to the county?

A: That’s the whole idea of the RFA — does it make sense and will we be able to improve the level of service to our area, will we be able to do it cost-effectively? Those are things we’ll be exploring through the RFA.

Q: Are you for or against Silverdale incorporation?

A: Everything has its pros and cons. We’re going to probably pay different taxes to a city organization, but we’ll be better represented in the county. Somebody has to pay for it. If we’re a city who’s going to pay for our fire service, law enforcement ... it gets expensive. The last time it came up I voted for it. It’s a tough choice for anybody, a real tough choice. By this coming up for the fourth time it’s been a choice the voters in the area didn’t want to do, but time’s change.

Q: How do you balance your firefighting duties and Garlic Jim’s?

A: The primary job is Garlic Jim’s and second to that is the fire department. Fortunately, for the most part with the exception of community meetings, it’s easy to schedule things. There are times as a volunteer firefighter I can’t respond because of other commitments then I fill in with the family and everything else.

Q: What is one thing you want to try in your lifetime?

A: There’s always skydiving, but that’s one of those things – why would I jump out of a perfectly good airplane? I’ve done a lot of stuff, a lot of stuff. I look back and I’m in awe of what I’ve done. I’ve been a lot of places and have done a lot of things.

Q: What is the biggest pizza order you’ve ever filled?

A: It was when I was in corporate training over in Bellevue. We had two orders that day of 100 pizzas each. We have some standard orders on Fridays that are more than 50 pizzas. We can do it in less than 30 minutes.

Q: What is the strangest pizza request you’ve received?

A: Our strangest pizza, it happens at both stores, is the person that’s lactose intolerant and wants red sauce and no cheese. A cheese pizza without the cheese.

Q: Why are volunteer firefighters so important to the system?

A: Because we’re able to provide the manpower support to the career staff. It would be wonderful to have a four-man engine staff, but we probably wouldn’t be able to afford it. A full-time firefighter is expensive and we’re really able to fill in and be able to support the career staff especially when you get into the western side of the district like Seabeck and Holly.

Q: Do you ever get tired of eating pizza?

A: I eat a lot of pizza and I’ve lost 15 pounds eating pizzas. I don’t think so, I really like it. Of course I can make whatever pizza, I can toss on and take off toppings as I like. My wife peels off the toppings and leaves the dough behind. She’s always done that.

Q: What sets Garlic Jim’s apart from the rest?

A: Not to sound too much like the commercial, but we’ve got a really good pizza. We’ve got a good crust, good sauce, good cheese and those three things coupled with good customer service sets up apart. Our menu prices are all about the same, but we have a much higher quality product.

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