Bell's has become an Ann Arbor landmark to many. Countless late-night poker games, beer runs and study sessions have been accompanied by the signature aroma of Bell's patented dough and sweet-yet-savory sauce.
For someone who has lived in Ann Arbor off-and-on for parts of three decades, this reviewer can honestly say Bell's pizza recipe has changed very little. That consistent quality makes it one of Ann Arbor's remaining bastions of a kinder, simpler era.
Some things aren't easily forgotten. Like the time a certain scribe accompanied his friends (and former Bell's delivery guys) Tim and Davy to DTW with two large Bell's Pizzas to greet his friend Seth (another Bell's alumnus) returning home from two months abroad. Seth had written (yes, via snail mail) a couple weeks prior with the request: "I've been dreaming about a Bell's pizza with feta and green pepper for about a month now."
Or words to that effect.
Most people who have worked there at one time or another are always greeted warmly by Rada, the owner. Though never an employee, Rada's always been cordial with your gentle narrator as well and always offers a free soda upon visiting. Perhaps he won't like being name-checked here, but Rada's simply the type of business owner who remembers you.
A couple of the long-time workers there have been extremely cool and welcoming as well over the years. In some ways, Bell's is like a Cheers for many Michigan students (past and present) and townies.
Then there was the time these young scrappers Barry and Nitro stole Ann Arbor legend B-Wix's delivery car from the Bell's parking lot. The Wixer had gone inside to pick up a run and those two stealthy little miscreants purloined his idling car right out from under his nose.
One hell of a prank.
On Thursday-Saturday, Bell's (open until 4 a.m. most nights) might as well be an official U of M after-party spot once the bars let out. A velvet rope may one day need to be installed in front of the doorway. Michigan football and basketball players—and their admirers/gawkers—seem to frequent the place on the late-night. It gets raucous, occasionally out-of-pocket, but the guys working the counter seem to keep things in check.
One tends to outgrow that kind of mayhem, but there's no age-limit on assuaging the undergrad/Ace Deuce blues with a late-night Bell's pizza.
Many Ann Arborites have fond memories of Bell's, it is emblematic of some of the amazing connections one can make in Ann Arbor and has helped foster kinship among students, faculty and everyday residents. Ann Arbor's landscape has changed over the years—things are a bit edgier now—but somehow many faithful customers know comfort can be found in the form of pizza down on 700 Packard.
Hell, the subs ain't half-bad either.