SGT. PEPPERONI’S WELCOMES IRVINE TO THE BAND

by BENJAMIN EPSTEIN

All you need is love … and pizza!

That’s the philosophy at Sgt. Pepperoni’s Pizza Store, new at Irvine’s Campus Plaza. The eatery is inspired by the 1967 Beatles album “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.”

The Newport Beach location, launched in 1976, is the county’s longest operating pizzeria and recently was named the county’s best pizza restaurant by readers of both the Los Angeles Times and Orange County Register.

The rock connection goes beyond the Beatles. In 2013, the pizzeria was bought by four friends, including Stan Frazier, former drummer for the band Sugar Ray, who wrote the 1990s hits “Fly” and “Every Morning.” The band was touring Europe when his love for food began.

“I’d explore cities in Italy, France or Spain and come back with all these groceries,” he recalls. “I became absorbed with cuisine and cooking and pizza!”

Frazier left Sugar Ray in 2012. “We had a really good run. We made seven studio albums; we toured the world and opened for the Rolling Stones. How lucky can you be?”

Soon after, he auditioned for TV reality cooking show “Chef Race.”

“I was one of 12 chefs picked to race from L.A. to New York over 14 weeks. It was like ‘The Amazing Race,’ ‘Survivor’ and ‘Top Chef’ all in one.”

Frazier won. “When my friends said they were buying Sgt. Pepperoni’s, I said I wanted in.”

The family operation includes wives and teenage children.

“This is a passion project,” Frazier says. “When we were kids, our families would all go to Sgt. Pepperoni’s together. It’s a place of true joy to us to this day.”