El Camino Real in Menlo Park

It’s a safe bet that most people wouldn’t be able to answer the trivia question “where was the first Round Table Pizza located?” An equal number would be surprised to learn it still exists.

Like the more famous franchise McDonalds, which opened on historic Route 66 in San Bernardino in 1948, William R. Larson opened the first Round Table Pizza restaurant in 1959 on another noted route, the El Camino Real in Menlo Park.

According to the company’s website:  “As far as the shields go, the original concept of ‘Round Table’ was to signify a gathering place – it had nothing to do with King Arthur or the Knights of the Round Table. One day, in about 1961, a friend of Mr. Larsons was eating pizza in the restaurant and started drawing the characters from King Arthur’s court, all eating pizza. Mr. Larson was so excited he adopted the King Arthur theme and started making the restaurants look like English castles.The shields were added to the logo  about 1970. There are actually three shields and, believe it or not, they symbolize the letters ‘F’, ‘U’, ‘N’, spelling FUN! Most people don’t see that when they look at the shields, but that’s the true story!”

There are now around 500 company-owned and franchised Round Table Pizza restaurants, mostly in the western United States. And unlike the original McDonald’s which is now the site of a museum, the original Round Table is still selling pizza at 1225 El Camino Real – 50 years after first opening.

Photo by Chris Gulker