Brad Breakell, the longtime owner and chef at PizzalChik in Boise, was found dead Thursday morning.
Guitarist Russ Martin, who performs in PizzalChik’s house band, said Breakell appeared to have died in his sleep at home, where he lived with two of his daughters.
“It’s terrible,” Martin said, his voice breaking.
Plans will be made for a benefit concert and celebration of life, Martin said. During 14 years, Breakell created a unique destination at 7330 W. State St. for fans of handspun, thin-crust pizza and live classic rock.
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“There was nobody on the planet like that guy,” Martin said. “Doing Pink Floyd in a strip mall — what a visionary.”
Breakell’s daughter, Sedona, has set up a GoFundMe account to help with expenses. “This is going to be a very hard time for my family and I,” Sedona wrote. “We lost our mother at a young age ... We have been very slow and have had really no income, and it has been an extremely rough struggle. ... I need to be able to keep a roof over Nalani’s head and food in her belly. She is the youngest.”
Brad Breakell opened PizzalChik in 2004 with his wife, Judy. She died in 2009, leaving Breakell to raise their four children. Customers grew accustomed to seeing the clan — Brad, Savannah, Montana, Sedona and Nalani — bustling behind the counter. Brad Breakell, who often wore tie-dye clothing, played drums in PizzalChik’s house band on Friday nights. His daughters would jump in and sing, delighting diners.
The Breakell children still work at PizzalChik, which combines the words “pizza,” “salad” and “chicken.” The eldest, Savannah, took over ownership of the restaurant in the past year or so, Martin said.
A Canadian immigrant, Brad Breakell loved socializing in the restaurant and talking about music. PizzalChik hosts an annual summer festival, PizzalStock, which Breakell described as “three days of peace, music, love and pizza.”
Breakell’s unconventional style drew national attention. PizzalChik was featured on the Food Network and Cooking Channel, plus honored in Food Network Magazine as serving Idaho’s best pizza.
Breakell’s marketing approach on Facebook occasionally created controversy. After he dressed up as characters and posted skits promoting PizzalChik’s menu, videos generated accusations of racism in 2017 and early 2018.
PizzalChik has closed temporarily while arrangements are made, but the restaurant will move forward. Martin said that was clear Thursday after the initial shock and sadness.
“Montana went down and started making pizzas,” Martin said. “He said, ‘I feel like making some pies. Come and eat.’ So we all went down and told stories ... and ate pizza.”