Pizza places prepare for football parties

by Heather L. Mueller

Slap it, top it, bake it, box it and drive.

Phones rang off the hook and online orders spewed from the printer as Super Bowl XLI commercials prompted hungry football fans to crave a slice from their favorite pizza joints.

For national pizza restaurant chains, Super Bowl Sunday is the single biggest pizza business day of the year.

With nearly half of Americans surveyed eating at least one slice on this day, according to survey-based research company Ipsos in North America, it’s no surprise Domino’s Pizza and Pizza Hut estimated sales to be in the millions Sunday.

At the Washington Avenue Papa John’s Pizza, more than 10 employees worked posthaste to keep up with take-out and pick-up orders.

During the game, the crew pushed 400 to 600 pizzas through the oven, said assistant manager George Barry. That’s twice the average amount sold on a busy Friday or Saturday, he said.

Nearly 100 pizzas were ordered per hour, making every minute count from the time the call came in to the time the delivery driver reached a customer’s front door.

At Papa John’s Pizza, it takes just under six minutes to “slap” and “dock” one lump of dough, sauce the empty “skin,” shuffle it down the “make line,” add meat or veggies and then bake it for six and a half minutes in a 444-degree oven.

Global studies sophomore Oluyemi Ige said pepperoni pizza, Papa John’s biggest seller, is the most tedious to assemble.

“Pepperoni takes the longest because you have to lay them on (one by one),” she said, layering 40 or so pepperonis over grated mozzarella cheese.

Tack on an eight to 10 minute delivery, and the pizza’s at the door in about 35 minutes – that is, if the driver doesn’t get lost or get stuck in traffic or accidentally drive down a one-way.

Mechanical engineering junior John Husmann searched for a customer’s address as Incubus tunes streamed from the truck’s speakers. After delivering for a year and a half, he has learned to anticipate which lights turn red faster and which routes have the fewest stop signs.

He said the job is a good way to make money if your car runs.

“You think, aww, it’s college – everyone’s poor, but they’re pretty nice, though. They tip,” he said.

And even though the average tip per order is $1.50 to $2 on campus, Husmann said he doesn’t forget a face if someone stiffs him, which sometimes happens at the superblock.

Husmann gets 80 cents of each $1.50 delivery charge on top of his minimum wage pay and tips.

Stan Gromek, who has delivered pizzas for six years, said he makes more runs during the game but receives the usual amount of tips.

“More people, more stuff but somebody has to do it Ö They just want (pizza) quickly, especially drunk (people) late at night,” he said. “I love them.”

Pioneer residents Lauren Anderson and Jessica Niemi who had pizza delivered 15 minutes prior to kick-off said pizza is popular because it goes well with beer.

Journalism sophomore Mark Jeranek ordered two pizzas and a side of breadsticks to eat with some buddies during the game.

“It’s just classic football food,” he said.