A wise and talented man named Johnny Cash wrote in the song Like a Soldier, “I believe there were roads that I was meant to ride.” Well, the road for John Clifford has been paved in pizza. In high school, he began making and delivering pizza for his neighbor’s franchise in New Mexico, sometimes being left to close for the night at the age of 15. When John moved to Seattle 10 years ago, a friend at the UW told him to apply for a job at Pagliacci because, as John recalled, “he said it was the best.”
John applied and got an interview. Little did he know that on the day of his interview anti-war protesters would fill the streets of Seattle, snarling traffic around the city. President Bush had just declared war on Iraq, and people were mad. So was John. He didn’t make it to the interview so he wrote it off. However, at the prodding of his mom, who told him not to give up, he asked to reschedule his interview. No war was going to keep him from working at Pagliacci.
Fast forward 10 years, the Iraq war is over and John is currently Director of Operations. He’s responsible for helping oversee stores and managers, providing crew and manager development, and, of course, making pizzas. When asked why he stays with Pagliacci, he didn’t hesitate to answer. “The people that I work for, the people who work for me…it feels like a family,” he explained.
Since he started with the company at the Broadway Pizzeria, John was determined to go to culinary school, but every time a window of opportunity opened up, Pagliacci kept promoting him. After only two years with Pagliacci, he became General Manager at Sand Point. Then almost 10 months later, he was promoted again. He was tasked with revising and updating the company’s training manuals. Not just a desk job, John continued to work in the stores alongside crew members and managers – watching, training, and mentoring others. Once again, the company saw his commitment and perseverance, and a year later he was promoted to District Manager, a position he held for six years.
He’s proud of the long road he’s paved with the company, and grateful for the trust and wisdom of co-owner, Matt Galvin. “I’ve learned a lot through Matt and his mentorship,” John explained. Now, after almost one year as Director of Operations, it’s obvious this is the road he’s supposed to be on. As John so aptly stated, “I’m happy where I’m at.” The pizza-paved road has also taken him on a new ride: parenthood with his fiancé and Pagliacci’s Controller, Audrey Middleton. When he’s not at work, he’s at home with his four-month-old daughter, taking walks with her and their dogs, and cooking for his family (although it’s probably not pizza).
Check out John and some of our crew as they talk about their careers at Pagliacci in this video.