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The Pizza Dude: Must be the heat


February 28, 2008
By Roberto Vergalito

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Well, I hope all my fellow pizzaiolos had a prosperous summer. I know it definitely was a hot one.

Well, I hope all my fellow pizzaiolos had a prosperous summer. I know it definitely was a hot one. Now, I don’t know if it was the heat or people were just getting downright stupid. I can’t tell you how many times this summer I had to fight with customers who insisted they said one thing, when I had written down something else that they originally said.

For example, I had one guy who ordered an eight-slice pizza, double cheese, double pepperoni and onions. I took the order … and I am very precise when taking orders. I even repeat the order back to the customer, just to make sure there are no mistakes.

This guy comes back and has the audacity to tell me I screwed up. He insists he had said double bacon, not pepperoni. At this point he wants his money back and I’m not willing to give it back to him because I know what I heard.

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To make a long story short he left the premises without his pizza or his money, as I am a very adamant person when I know I did not make a mistake. At what point do we give in?

Take-out pizzerias are one of the last person-to-person, customer-oriented businesses. It’s very sad that customers think they can treat us like they treat people who work for big companies, making millions of dollars.

And it’s not excusable to treat those people that way either. But what have people become these days? Who died and made them royalty.

We pizzeria owners put in countless hours a week to provide for our families and if you think I’m going to lie down for this kind of customer, think again. I got into this business for two reasons: I enjoy making pizzas and working in the kitchen and to make money.

I’m not about to give it up because some guy doesn’t know the difference between bacon and pepperoni.
 Even employees are getting – let me rephrase this – they are not getting, they always have been, the biggest pain in my backside.

I can’t believe that after all of the training and the years that they have been in one place, they still refuse to use good judgment and common sense.

What are they going to school for?  Do they not teach these kids any common sense?  Never mind common sense, how about just teaching these kids a little about using good judgment. Think, for crying out loud. If you see something that needs to be in the cooler, put it in the cooler.  If you see that you’re out of green peppers, chop some up.  If the pizza table is empty, fill it … and fill it to the top. 

Must we take everyone by the hand and talk to them as if they were children? Are parents not spending enough time with their kids, teaching them the basic necessities they need to know to get them through life, or are parents just figuring that they will learn these things at school?

My 15-month-old son understands almost everything we say. He laughs when we make a joke, he gets mad with us when we get mad at others, and he even feels remorse when he does something wrong. For crying out loud, he knows how to put the key in the ignition and start the car.

But I guess in order for our employees to learn to work the way we want them to, we have teach them the same way I’m teaching my 15-month-old child – and hopefully with a lot of patience and persistence they will get the hang of it.

There should be a class in school that every student must take, and all this class does is show these children videos of how things used to get done 20, 30 and 40 years ago. We didn’t wait for someone to show us, we figured it out ourselves. It’s called taking initiative.

Anyway, it doesn’t matter what I think of the education these children have, instead of improving the system, they’ve made it easier (I call it lazier) for children.

The motto for this month: “Be patient, be strong and please remember, you’re in this business because you like it and to make money.”  To all our Canadian troops over in Afghanistan: Godspeed. Our prayers and our pizzas are with you. I’m the pizza dude.•

Roberto Vergalito is “the Pizza Dude.” He owns and operates Roberto’s Pizza in St. Catharines, Ont. Comments and questions for Roberto should be sent to him at pizza@annexweb.com.


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