At Pagliacci each pizza is hand-tossed. As you might imagine, one of the most heralded skills in our ranks is the ability to spin the dough into perfect circles of even thickness. Getting it just right requires serious skill. Getting it just right each time on a busy Friday night requires seriously wicked skill. And no one does it better than Luis-Bibiano-Lopez.
“He is hands down one of the best tossers in the company,” says Jeff Woodruff, Pagliacci’s Vice-President of Operations. “I remember a night at Sand Point probably 5 years ago where he had 6 people topping and he was ahead of us. Incredible!”
Since 2015, Luis has been the general manager of Pagliacci’s Valley store, located on Queen Anne at the corner of Valley Street and Aurora Avenue. But he earned his reputation at Sand Point Way where he started in 2001.
“Luis has been featured in a few tossing videos because he is very, very, very good,” says John Clifford, Director of Operations. “When I started as an Associate Manager at Sand Point Way, he was our ringer that came to toss out busy Saturday nights.”
When asked why so many people referred to him as the best pizza maker in the company Luis laughed “I appreciate the compliment, but I don’t feel like I’m the best. What I do have is a lot of passion, a lot of patience, and I’m fanatical about quality.”
Luis, his wife Uvania, and their young son left their home in southern Mexico in 2000 and arrived in Seattle in 2001. Luis got seasonal work at the Space Needle as a prep cook. Shortly after he got laid off, Pagliacci hired him to work at the Sand Point Way store not knowing just how lucky we were. But it didn’t take long before people realized how valuable Luis was as a team member.
“He really is the most likable guy you will ever meet, and works his tail off every day,” says Field Manager Brandon Steele. “I think I worked with Luis on and off for about 9 of his 15 years. Luis worked as an Associate Manager with Brandon at both Sand Point Way and later at Valley Street.
“Luis is the most kind-hearted, committed guy we have,” John says. “He has developed strong relationships with his crew over the years and is remarkably consistent.”
Luis isn’t the only member of his family at Pagliacci. His wife Uvania has worked at Sand Point Way since 2002. For a time they overlapped. His oldest son also tossed for Pagliacci for almost 7 years.
One of Luis’ early obstacles to growth with Pagliacci was his limited English. But his abundant talent, people skills, and motivation to take on more responsibility led Pagliacci to invest in ESL classes for him. For 2 years, until his youngest son Angel was born, Luis worked hard improving his English. He now speaks very well.
When he’s not working Luis loves to spend time with his family, taking his now eight-year-old son to the movie theater, and when the weather is nice, inviting friends and relatives over to barbecue. “I own the spot in front of the grill,” Luis says with a laugh.
A testimony to the esteem in which his peers hold him, when he was promoted to General Manager at Pagliacci’s annual luncheon in January of 2014, he received a standing ovation from the large crowd.
“It's been the most rewarding experience in my time at Pagliacci watching him grow from a really great cook to a strong General Manager,” Brandon says. “I'll admit I got choked up when we promoted him to GM at the annual luncheon.”