The colorful yellow facade, distinctive sign, red door and checkered wall on the patio make Galactic Pizza one of Lyndale Avenues most recognizable businesses. However, the 14 year staple of Lyn-Lake situated at 2917 Lyndale Ave, is likely most well known for it’s Super Hero costume-clad workers, but beyond that is a robust business with a serious dedication to quality and sustainable practices.
2 and a half years ago John Wackerman bought Galactic. The New Jersey native has had a passion for pizza for over 25 years, traveling up and down the Eastern seaboard from Florida to Maine, and of course New York, searching for the best and most creative pizzas. When it came time for his kids to start looking at colleges, they both looked heavily in the Midwest, including the University of Minnesota; at that point John, working as a 6th grade math teacher, decided it was time for a change. The opportunity arose to buy Galactic Pizza, and after conversations with his family, they decided to make the leap. The family packed up, trading the ocean for lakes and entered the pizza business.
While it can be easy to focus on the colorful exterior and the super hero-themed decors, it’s important to remember that behind all of it is some really good pizza and dedication to a top quality product. John has put his years of painstaking pizza research (eating) to work by crafting a truly unique and inspired menu. Motivated by ensuring that there is a “pie” for everyone, Galactic has options for vegetarian, vegan, and gluten free customers. They have a large selection of appetizers, salads, and specialty pizzas you won’t find anywhere else. Ranging from namesake The Galactic, featuring homemade hemp pesto, to the Maui Wowie--which pairs the ever-controversial pizza topping of pineapple--with jalapeno for a little kick, everyone is bound to find something on the Galactic menu. Beer, wine, and ciders are available, and a daily happy hour menu runs from 4-6pm and 9-11pm. Galactic is committed to using organic and environmentally-conscious ingredients whenever possible and also attempts to source products locally when in season. This effort is part of the larger mission of Galactic Pizza and one that distinguishes it from other businesses almost as much as the super hero capes.
A key component to the mission of Galactic Pizza is the many environmental initiatives they undertake. The company emphasizes a reduced environmental impact whenever possible and make great effort to follow through. They use a complete waste diversion program emphasizing organic waste recycling; notably, the amount of waste the restaurant produces on a weekly basis fits into a residential sized trash can. They use renewable wind energy to power the restaurant and provide a fleet of 100% electric cars to their delivery drivers, making it a nearly zero emission operation. When asked why he emphasizes these measures, John’s answer is simple and to the point, invoking an internal sense of responsibility by saying: “It’s in his values…[the climate crisis] is undeniable”. te Though the measures he takes require a little extra work, he feels they are ultimately not that difficult and readily available with the benefit far outweighing the cost.
When asked if after several years of making the switch from hobby to vocation he still holds the same passion, John does admit that there has been a shift in perspective, and after the first 4-5 months of small business ownership he wondered if he had made a mistake. He cites growing pains/problems not uncommon to small business ownership including long hours, employee turnover, staffing and equipment problems. However, after a couple years and little stability he’s happy to report that he still likes pizza and seeks out other pizza spots at his leisure. He also adds with a laugh, “I eat a lot of pizza”. John has felt supported by his adopted city and glad he landed in a neighborhood “that stands on their values”. The Whittier neighborhood is happy to have a neighbor so committed and appreciates the model they set in the business community. (And, of course, their delicious pies.)
NOTE: Whittier Alliance has partnered with Hennepin County to promote and assist businesses in accessing County grant funding to improve or implement recycling and organics waste. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in knowing more about these programs.