Carrie Rengers

Longtime restaurateur Pat Knolla dies at 73

Pat Knolla at his Knolla’s Pizza.
Pat Knolla at his Knolla’s Pizza. Courtesy photo

Longtime Wichita restaurateur Pat Knolla, 73, died on Saturday.

“They’re guessing that it (the cause of death) was like an embolism,” says his daughter, Darinda Knolla.

Darinda Knolla, 39, first started working for her father at Knolla’s Pizza when she was 15 and now owns the Knolla’s at Central and Rock Road with Pat Knolla’s brother, Steve.

Pat Knolla owned the Knolla’s near 13th and West streets. Dan and Ruth Knolla own two other Knolla’s restaurants in the city.

Darinda Knolla says she’s not sure what will happen with the Knolla’s at 13th and West Street.

“It’ll be open for now. We just really have to kind of figure out the logistics of everything.”

She says her father taught her a lot about the business.

“You have to be passionate. You have to love what you do. … You work with your employees, you know. They don’t work for you.”

Dan Knolla says his brother and another brother, Tim, were working for a Pizza Hut franchise in Florida in 1981 when they “just decided to start their own little shop.”

It was just outside of Orlando “on the same lot as a Pizza Hut.”

Knolla says his brother was “old school.”

“Liked to talk to people before he did anything. Liked to keep things local. … Friends with everybody.”

Darinda Knolla says when she and her siblings were young, they couldn’t go anywhere without people knowing her dad.

“I swear, we thought he was like a celebrity,” she said.

All four Knolla’s Pizzas will be closed until 4 p.m. on Saturday for Knolla’s service.

Darinda Knolla says the family has had an outpouring of support since her father’s death much like they’ve had so much support from Wichita throughout the history of Knolla’s Pizza.

“I know he would want to thank everybody for their kind support,” she says. “He breathed Knolla’s Pizza.”

Reach Carrie Rengers at 316-268-6340 or Follow her on Twitter: @CarrieRengers.