For Californians, it’s the Straw Hat Pizza they grew up with — and then some.

The company’s new-concept restaurant, Straw Hat Pizza Grille, has made its Bay Area debut in Milpitas, with an expanded menu of pasta, burgers and sandwiches and a full bar.

Franchisee Raj Nayyar and a Straw Hat regional manager, Fred Tovar, oversaw a full renovation of the Calaveras Boulevard restaurant site that had been home to a Chili’s for 33 years. When customers are allowed to dine indoors, they’ll find a full sports-bar experience with 27 TVs and plenty of Bay Area team memorabilia.

“We’ve gotten a good response from the community so far. We’re selling a lot of burgers and pasta besides pizza,” said Nayyar, who also operates the Straw Hats in Hayward, Gilroy and Watsonville.

The Grille menu blends classic pizza offerings with hamburgers (including a Beyond Meat burger); pastas with marinara, alfredo or pesto sauces; pastrami and chicken sandwiches; plus wings, salads and soup.

This Milpitas restaurant is the first Grille in the Bay Area; the company’s only other location is in the Fresno County city of Clovis.

Straw Hat has deep roots in the Bay Area, with founders Charlie Olsen and Bill Henderlong opening the first pizzeria in San Leandro in 1959. According to the website, the company — after many ownership changes over the years — now is privately held and run by a board made up primarily of the pizza restaurants’ owners.

Details: The Straw Hat Pizza Grille is open daily from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. for takeout and delivery. 300 W. Calaveras Blvd., Milpitas. www.strawhatpizza.com

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By Arlene Huff

Arlene Huff is the founding member of Golden State Online. Before that She was a general assignment reporter. A native Californian, she graduated from the University of California with a degree in medical anthropology and global health. She currently lives in Los Angeles.

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