Loonie Times at “Pizza Loonie”

Gary Wojciechowski
MDI Contributor

I used to work with an advertising company and the owner of a pizza place called “Pizza Loonie.” I could write a book about all the funny stories that happened there. Here’s a couple: 

Story 1 – Getting Down to Business

The owner hired me as a sales person to sell advertising. And the next day …. everybody that worked there quit.

So I asked him if that was the end of the business. He said, “No you’re promoted to manager!” So I took it on and built the business up from scratch, even though he had filed bankruptcy previously and even on a shoestring budget. During the early days the main source of consistent money was his pizza business. Which in itself was funny. He had no dine in, no walk in.

The health department would shut him down periodically for various infractions. And my office was a corner off the pizza shop. He advertised: “One number reaches the location near you!” But he only had one location!

So pizzas were often took one or two hours for delivery, and often they were cold. But hey it was a 3-for-1 deal! And since customers were routinely drunk, it wouldn’t matter. He had the busiest pizza shop in the city. But this was in the early 90’s. And the main marketing for that business came with flyers and the Yellow Page ad!  

I come in one day and the lights were out and the phones were all dead. Normally we had seven lines ringing off the hook in the evenings with pizza orders. But now: all dead lines. I’m like “Robert WTF?” He admitted that he hadn’t paid the yellow page ad. He was going through a divorce and blah blah blah. I said, “Well I guess we’re out of business. He said, “No I’ll never give up!”  

By this time he and I were friends, and I wanted to see him succeed. So I suggested we could use my pager number for the orders. Now remember this is the 1990s; cell phones were like a brick and cost a dollar a minute. So people used pagers instead. I said I could talk the local printer into printing more flyers with my number on them – even though Robert owed the printers back pay as well.  

Robert got the electricity reconnected. But the Yellow page ad was like $6,000 to get caught up. And we had no phones until that was paid.   

So this was the plan:

  1. Get flyers printed.
  2. Get kids to deliver flyers.
  3. Have Robert sit by the oven with my pager and bag of quarters
  4. Every time it went beep he’d run to the payphone, plug in a quarter listen to the order and plug in another quarter to call them back to confirm the order.
  5. Make the pizzas and have a delivery guy deliver them.

It took maybe two weeks to make back the $6,000 to get the yellow pages paid and the phones back up and running.

But we had many laughs about how crazy that was! A huge bag of quarters, and my pager? Really? Really!

I remember I would leave a funny message on the machine. “Thanks for calling Pizza Loonie, this is our new advanced technology order taking system. Simply leave your order at the sound of the BEEP and someone will call you back to confirm.” I still can’t believe people ordered. Food cold, took forever to get there, but they paid. It’s what we needed to turn this business around from the brink. And to find something awesome to laugh at.

Story 2 – A Bloody Pizza Driver

We had a pizza driver who was quite the character. People would order pizzas and ask for this driver specifically to deliver it. This guy was a long-haired hippie dude clearly missing a few marbles.  

Well one night he took six orders and didn’t come back for hours. We were wondering what happened to him.

I was helping out with answering phones and a lady called in shock. She said, “Your Pizzas! I say, “Yes, we are running a bit late on the orders.” She said, “No, your driver!” I said, “Oh he delivered the pizzas? And you paid him?” “Yes.” “So what’s the problem?” She exclaimed, “He’s covered in blood!”  

Now, we had a driver who got stabbed before. We were hoping that didn’t happen. And the last one was in shock, and then drove right past the hospital back to the restaurant to tell us he was stabbed So you never know what a man might do in shock. But we had no idea.  

Finally the driver came back around 3 a.m. We were like, “Where were you? What happened?” Then we heard the story. He said he was delivering the pizzas and out by a trailer park he saw a woman get thrown out of a truck and onto the highway. “She rolled on the ground in front of me. I almost ran her over!” he said. He stopped and picked her up, and then said, “Don’t worry lady, I will take you to the hospital, but first I got to deliver these pizzas!”

That poor lady! At least she did get to a hospital eventually. But hot damn, driver! Employee of the month! Citizen of the month. Delivering four or five pizzas all over the friggin’ city knowing his first duty was to get these pizzas to customers!

Still don’t know where all the blood came from.

So funny. Never a dull moment at Pizza Loonie.

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