We opened our Broadway Pizzeria on Capitol Hill 30 years ago. To celebrate, on Saturday we are rolling back prices to what they were in 1983.
If you were around, 1983 was a pretty memorable year. Even for those too young to remember, it was one of those years that has just remained in the cultural zeitgeist. The Star Wars trilogy came to a close with the release of The Return of the Jedi, Jennifer Beals popularized off-the-shoulder sweatshirts in Flashdance and a computer named Joshua peskily kept asking a young Matthew Broderick if he wanted to play a game in Wargames. Tom Cruise rocketed to fame dancing in his underwear in Risky Business and Al Pacino introduced us to his little friend in Scarface.
I vividly remember watching Michael Jackson perform the moonwalk for the first time during the TV special, Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever. We watched it over, and over, and over on my uncle’s Betamax. NBC brought us The A-Team, M*A*S*H aired its last episode and Richard Chamberlin played Father Ralph de Bricassart in The Thorn Birds. And I would be remiss not to mention Plinko was added to The Price Is Right.
The Police hit it big with Synchronicity, but Michael Jackson’s Thriller ruled the airwaves, taking the Billboard #1 spot 4 different times and spending 22 weeks at the top of the charts that year. The Cult, The Flaming Lips, NOFX and the Red Hot Chili Peppers all formed in ‘83. And, solving a mystery that had begun in the clubs of New York City a decade earlier, KISS officially unmasked on MTV.
It was the year that saw Sally Ride became the first American woman in space. Vanessa Williams became the first African American to be crowned Miss America. Chrysler introduced the Minivan to the world, spawning a new species known as the Soccer Mom. They soon started showing up in McDonald’s Drive-Thrus to order the new Chicken McNugget.
And at 426 Broadway Avenue East on January 5th, the second Pagliacci Pizzeria opened. It was actually two restaurants in one. During the day it was a pizzeria and at night it turned into a pizzeria in the front and a trattoria in the back (insert mullet joke here). Slices of Cheese were $0.90, Double Pepperoni was $0.95, a slice of Combo was $1.20 and a Primo was just $1.35.
A lot of restaurants and businesses have come and gone on the Hill over the past 30 years, and we’re honored (and more than a little humbled) that our customers continue coming back. Thank you. We really couldn’t have been here this long without you. We look forward to seeing you Saturday for our 30th Anniversary Celebration. We’ll have music from the 80’s (not just Michael Jackson, promise), prizes and slices for a price worth celebrating!
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By Jason Cheung, University Pizzeria General Manager
6:30 AM —I get up and start what will turn out to be a long day. While he is having breakfast, I turn on the news and hear Tim Robinson on KING-5 gleefully exhort everyone who is watching, “Let’s bring Pagliacci to their knees.” I laugh a bit. I get my son to daycare and go to the doctor. Then back home to get ready to work. The whole time, my mind is racing. Did Mark (our Shift Leader) order enough dough from the Commissary? Did we prep enough? Did we prep too much? I’ve been on edge and worried all week and my staff can tell. We are going to have a GIGANTIC day. I want it to go as smooth as possible. We’ve estimated using 45 trays of dough (3 times our normal dough order) and I had Mark order 50 so that we hopefully have some proofed for the next day. We’ve portioned everything that we can and I’ve scheduled extra people all day to help keep things flowing smoothly.
12:15 PM — Arrive at the pizzeria. We are jammed. My prepper is in the back cutting lettuce. He is already planning to make more sauce and prep more mozzarella. I ask my dishwasher how things have been and he gives me a grin and says one word, “Crazy!”
12:17 PM — I enter the dining room. All I can hear is a low roar of people talking, eating and waiting to order. I notice one of my regulars sitting alone at a table. He grins at me. “Looks like it’s gonna be a busy one!” he says. He’s not kidding. I get into the kitchen where John, one of the District Managers, is cutting a pizza. Three cooks hurriedly make pizza behind him. I ask what will be my main question of the day: “Can I get you guys anything?” After I bring up more mushrooms and pineapple, I sneak out the front door to see how many people are in line. They spill over to Rite Aid next door. I (loudly) thank everyone for waiting and promise that we are going as fast as we can to get them in the door. I’m reminded of the Friday lunch lines at Salumi downtown. I go inside and check to see how the other pizzerias are doing. They are busy, but we are killing them as far as transactions go. Hoo Ra! Then back to clearing tables, running food to the kitchen and emptying the endlessly filling trash cans. Two people are working slice bar and it is all they can do to keep up with the line of people streaming in the door.
3:00 PM — The night crew begins arriving. I can’t believe that it is already 3. My prepper is cranking out mozz as fast as he can and doesn’t even blink when I ask him to make another batch of sauce and cut more Kalamatas. Bev, another District Manager, arrives and relieves John at the cut table.
5:00 PM — My prepper leaves. The whole night crew has arrived and we begin our shift change. Aaron from Kenmore (THANKS for staying) and Alan from the day shift stick around to help. The line does not look like it has moved all afternoon. Different faces yes, but the same line.
5:30 PM — I ask my dishwasher to prep more cheese. We’re running out. Audrey from the office arrives and immediately helps in the kitchen.
6:00 PM — Incredibly, it seems even more crowded. The line in front of the building is even longer. The back prep area is as busy as it was during the day. I start to realize that we’re gonna hit a 1,000 transactions, at least.
7:00 PM — Matt (the owner) arrives. After sweeping the dining room and clearing some tables, he is immediately tasked with the glamorous job of folding slice boxes. We are almost folding them to order. John starts prepping more cheese for the Agog. Unbelievably, we are able to get people on their breaks kind of on time.
8:00 PM — We realize that we are going to run out of dough. Someone makes a call and we get more from a delivery kitchen.
8:30 PM — John starts prepping more Kalamata olives for the Agog.
9:00 PM — Uh oh…We start running dangerously low on Roasted Garlic for the Agog. This is a problem, because it is not a quick thing to prep. I ask Matt if he could call and “ask” one of the other delivery kitchens to have some brought over. (I figure they are not going to tell him no, and they don’t.) We have some within 20 minutes. Whew.
11 PM — Officially closed, but there is still a line to the door and we still have pizza to sell.
11:15 PM — We (finally) close the doors and turn off the sign. My crew has performed like Spartan Warriors, but we are all spent. John has done me the favor of starting to count down the tills and as I head upstairs to finish them I see Matt, the owner of the company, on his hands and knees scrubbing the floor in the kitchen. Where’s the camera?
Midnight — Hooray. It’s my birthday.
12:30 AM — I’m still in the middle of the closing paperwork and the crew is finishing their closing duties. I go downstairs to check them out so they can go home. On a normal day I’d be locking the door after them now, but they’ll be here for another few minutes tonight.
12:40 AM — Matt, John and I talk about the day. We ended up doing over 1,400 transactions and used 71 trays of dough, which far exceeded what we had expected. We also beat the pants off of the other two Seattle Pizzerias. We all agree that it was a great, great day. They try to coax me out for a beer, but I still have some things to do around the pizzeria and I’m beat. I shoo them out the door and tell them to go to bed.
1:10 AM — Lock up and start heading for home. Make mental note to order a lot more dough for the 40th Anniversary.
2 AM — Crawl into bed and fall instantly asleep.
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It’s hard to believe that we are turning 30 today. It doesn’t seem that long ago that we fired up our oven for the first time, tossed out our first dough ball and served our first slice on the Ave. Wow! Are we really 30? 1979 wasn’t really that long ago was it?
When talking about what to do for this major milestone we knew we had to do something to celebrate our crew. They embody everything you have come to know as the Pagliacci experience. That’s why you are seeing some of their faces on our pizza boxes. Each box size features different people. You may recognize a few of them from delivering pizza or greeting you at the counter.
Just recognizing our crew isn’t enough to celebrate turning 30. If it weren’t for all of you continuing to order Pagliacci, we would have never survived three decades in the competitive pizza industry. Obviously these are troubling economic times right now, so what better way to celebrate our anniversary than to extend a special promotion to all of you. Thus our 30-30-30 promotion was born. For our 30th anniversary we are giving everyone a 30% discount one pizza per order on the order over the next 30 days. That would be February 19 – March 20.
However that still isn’t enough to satisfy our anniversary party. So it’s slice madness at the pizzerias. For today only we are rolling back slices to what they were when we opened in 1979. That means a slice of cheese is only 85 cents. What you talkin’ bout Willis? That’s right. Slices for under a dollar. Also on the slice bar is pepperoni for 95 cents, Canadian bacon and pineapple for 95 cents and the AGOG Primo for $1.05. Wash it down with a fountain soda for only 60 cents. The slice madness will only happen today, but the slice celebration will continue with primo slice prices being reduced to our normal cheese slice price of $2.09 from February 20 – March 20.
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