At 22, having just ended a long-term relationship and dropped out of college, Brian Youngdahl was a bit down-and-out. So, he did what any brazen 20-something would do. Brian rallied his friends and set off on a Kerouacian, cross-country adventure. He probably never imagined his quest for something different would lead to Pagliacci, but we’re so glad it did. After all, we wouldn’t have the wildly popular Spicy Chicken pizza if it weren’t for him. Now, Brian balances his time as general manager of our Ballinger Way location and field manager of seven locations. Celebrating a decade with the Pagliacci family this week, we caught up with him to discuss his history with the company, how he connects with the crew, and what other interesting pie ideas he has in the works.
How did you come to work for Pagliacci?
Moving 2500 miles across country at 22 didn't leave me with a lot of money to get started on. I had enough to get by for a little while but needed to find a job pretty quick. We had to camp out in Sammamish for the first few nights while we were trying to find a place to live. We found a house after four or five days a block south of the Lake City Way store. I had lots of pizza experience and just went and applied thinking I could get a job pretty easily with that experience… I was a shift leader about five months later and an associate manager within my first year. I was promoted to general manager about three years in.
For those who don't know, what does a field manager do?
My first responsibility is to run my home store, Ballinger Way, and ensure that it runs the way it should with me only being there half the week [and other stores the rest of the week]. A large part of my job is being a mentor. Working with new associate managers and shift leaders to hone their skills, looking for crew members that can take on more and grow with the company, [and] helping my stores to achieve financial success. There isn't really much that I don't do in this role.
Having been part of the Pagliacci family for so long, you must have some interesting stories. What are some of the highlights of the last 10 years?
There are a lot of highlights for me over the last decade. The most important would be that I met my wife at Pagliacci. We were crew members together at University. We were friends for a few years before getting together. We have now been together almost seven years and have our one-year wedding anniversary coming up in late August. I also met all of my best friends through Pagliacci. One more highlight has been working with North King County Little League (NKCLL). I was looking for a way to be more involved with our community in Shoreline and reached out to NKCLL about sponsoring a team or something. For the last two years we have sponsored the tee ball division. We provided jerseys for all of the tee ball kids. They look really cool. This year I was invited to throw out the first pitch of the season at their annual jamboree. It was a really cool experience. Everyone there was very appreciative of what we do for them.
When you get up in the morning, what do you look forward to the most about your job?
It really depends on the day. It could be helping to bust out a big order; working with a new associate manager or shift leader; helping to develop new crew; certifying or coring out a crew member; catching up with Matt [Galvin], Jeff [Woodruff], or John [Clifford]. I really like most aspects of my job, other than dealing with Seattle traffic while driving from store to store.
Given the opportunity, what pizza would you create for the menu next?
As far as creating another menu pie [goes], I have a ton of ideas; none of which I think we will actually use. Most of them are kind of off-the-wall. I have a nice taco pie, pulled pork pie, breakfast pizza, nutella and banana, but if I could create one more for the menu I think I would choose the Heaven Sent Primo. We would have to team up with another local business, Heaven Sent Fried Chicken, to make it happened but it is awesome: mashed potato base, mozzarella and Fontina cheese, fried chicken, corn, and gravy. It is so good, and it just sounds awesome to say, "Would you like to try the Heaven Sent Primo?"
Check out Brian's killer tossing skills in this video!