Falling in Love Over Spilled Pizza Sauce

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Kayley cooked pizza, Niels delivered them. On good nights, they’d close together, tackling the pile of dirty dishes and wiping up spilled pizza sauce. But young and shy, their unspoken interest simmered, waiting for a spark. Cue Molly, then a co-worker, now the general manager at Pagliacci’s Ballinger store. Molly picked up Kayley’s crush, so she did what any good friend would do. She organized a night of bowling at Kenmore Lanes with Kayley, Niels, and Molly’s brother, Patrick, also a delivery driver, and a close friend of Niels.

Molly says, “For what felt like forever you could tell there was something between the two of them, but it needed a spark.”

One night of bowling led to another, and another. Those late nights of strikes, spares, and gutter balls turned up the heat.

“Molly and her brother, Patrick, served as wingmen, a kind of barrier,” Kayley says. “I was pretty shy and timid and wasn’t sure Niels was into me. Having the buffer of Molly and Pat gave space for the romance to build slowly.”

Molly says, “I remember being so excited to ask Kayley how it was going and if they were officially dating yet. The answer was no for quite a while, but the suspense was worth it once it finally happened.”

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Molly and Kayley back in the day

After a Pagliacci Christmas party, Niels asked Kayley out. A few months later both left Pagliacci for college, Niels to pursue a degree in Wetland Ecology, Kayley in Dental Hygiene. But the romance continued to flourish and last July they were married.

Naturally, Pagliacci had to play some role in the ceremony.

“We knew we wanted to incorporate Pagliacci into our wedding,” Kayley says. “So after we took our group wedding photos, Niels and I stopped off at Pagliacci’s Ballinger store with the photographer and shot a few photos.”

All along, Niels and Kayley have continued to order regularly from Pagliacci. Their special order is a pie they call the Molly Pizza. “It’s basically a Centioli, the thin crust, with sun-ripened tomatoes, mushrooms, and green peppers. We always dip the crusts in the Pagliaccio dressing,” Kayley says.

Both Niels and Kayley have kept up their friendship with Molly and Patrick. “Pagliacci will always have a special place in our heart,” Kayley says. “It’s nice to still have connections and be able to walk into Ballinger and see familiar faces from seven years ago when we worked there. So it’s obviously a great company to work for. People stick around.”

Molly says, “Pizza will always have a special place in their lives. Especially if they can dip it in Pagliaccio dressing.”

While Molly and Patrick deserve some credit, here’s the kicker: Kayley’s parents got engaged 35 years ago over a slice of Pagliacci pizza on the Ave.

“My parents were high school sweethearts,” Kayley says. “Pagliacci runs deep in the family. We’re very partial to their pizza.”

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