Pagliacci’s store in North Seattle on 145th turns 20 this May. To celebrate, the store will give away slices on May 6th from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. General Manager Mike Young is in charge of making it happen. “It’s a big thank you to the neighborhood for supporting us for 20 years. The goal is to give away as much pizza as possible,” he said.
One of Seattle’s ritziest locales, The Highlands, sits just to the west. Just to the east, on 145th, are a few blocks of gas stations, local businesses, and a series of medical marijuana stores. “I should do some grass roots marketing and drop off a bunch of free slice flyers at the pot shops,” Mike said with a smile. “That’d bring ’em in.”
Mike Young makes people laugh. Despite his infamous wit, he prefers to work behind the scenes, using humor to lighten the mood of the crew when they get slammed. Informed that Pagliacci wanted to put together a nice feature on him for the blog in honor of his 15th anniversary with the company, he said someone with serious creative writing chops better write it—to come up with the nice bits.
His interview took place in the store’s well-ordered kitchen, at his insistence. Throughout, his hands kept moving, as he cleaned and chopped 50 pounds of green peppers, drained tomatoes, and much more, checking each item off of his prep list as he went, talking all the while.
145th is one of Pagliacci’s busiest stores, serving Greenwood, parts of Lake City, and The Highlands. For the first 19 years the store was a delivery only kitchen. Daytime hours, seating, and a slice bar were added last July. Managing all this and over 30 employees requires experience. At 30, Mike looks too young for the part, but experience isn’t something he lacks. Fifteen years of it. Not many can claim they’ve worked at one company for half their life.
As a sophomore in high school, he trailed his sister on a job hunt. A ‘Now Hiring' sign at Pagliacci’s Miller store beckoned. He got hired. Within his first year he also managed to get fired by Pagliacci’s co-owner Matt Galvin, only to be quickly rehired, at the insistence of the store’s general manager. Mike said, “He didn’t want me working for his company. Can’t blame him. Me at 15? Even I wouldn’t want that me working here.”
Young as he was, he quickly proved his worth, moving from one store to another as needed once he’d finished high school. With excellent people skills, broad knowledge of Pagliacci’s systems, and a dedicated work ethic he eventually became a general manager. He was instrumental in opening both Bellevue’s Main Street store and the Madison Park store. About one year ago, with his first child about to be born, he returned to 145th. This time as general manager.
“My goal, running the store, is never to see my managers,” Mike said, a wry smile sneaking out. “Ideally, 145th runs as an autonomous state. When I see those guys I figure I’m in trouble for something.” Then he got serious. “I value the opportunity they give me to make decisions.”
A two-time contest winner, Mike has been rewarded with two trips to Hawaii. That means his bosses know he’s been running a great operation.
Perhaps the most important anniversary occurring in May is the one year anniversary of his daughter’s birth. On his days off he enjoys taking her downtown on the light rail to shop at the Pike Place Market. Other great passions are Seattle sports, especially the Seahawks. He holds season tickets. When he retires—yes, even 30-year-olds contemplate it—he wants to make it to all 81 home Mariner games.
If you live in North Seattle, stop at Pagliacci on 145th on May 6th between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. and enjoy pizza on us (limit two slices/person). Wave to Mike, he’ll most likely be the guy at the ovens, pizza peel in hand, a joke on the edge of his lips.