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Thursday, March 18, 2010  

Pie Day

One of the places Trash where Trash used to work when she was in high school was a sit-down pizza place by her house called Carbone's. It was a bit of a cop hangout, and one of her favorite stories to tell about that time was when she was new, and one of the local officers -- a friend's dad, no less -- was complimenting her on how well she was refilling his water glass from the pitcher. "Thank you!" she said, turning her whole body toward him in a way that caused the water from the pitcher to begin filling up his lap.

But this isn't about that. This is about the pizza. Trash loved the pizza while she was working there, and still does. I do too. So does M. Edium. So do most of the friends and family we have dragged there. The problem is, and has been, that while it's part of a chain, the only franchises tend to be found in the outlying suburbs. There is one that's way on the other side of the city, but it's way on the other side of the city. Put it this way: years ago, when Trash's brother lived three miles closer than Carbone's than we do, he called to order a pizza. As a throwaway comment, almost as a joke, he added, "Don't supposed you'd deliver out here?" They said they would, but when they got there, the driver told him, "We are never delivering here again." BIL paid for his pizza and happily agreed, because the main ingredient in Carbone's pizza is happiness, and there's enough in one little square slice to make up for all manner of abuse from a pizza guy.

This is not to say we don't have pizza places in our neighborhood. In addition to Pizza Hut (M. Edium's favorite, but he'll grow out of it), there are a few options, but they're expensive or bad. The closest one is six blocks away, and has been through any number of failed iterations. I think the most recent one is called Gamy's. We picked up a pizza there once when we were out on a walk. You know how aficionados talk about different styles of pizza, like Chicago style or New York style or Italian style? This place made grade-school cafeteria style, only with more pepper.

So truly local pizza just didn't seem to be in the cards for us. Then, the other day, Trash got the mail and started jumping up and down with excitement. She held up a mailer with the Carbone's logo on it, and I was like, "Oh, good, we're on their coupon mailing list now. Neat."

Then she handed me the mailer, which read, in part,

"New!! Coming to [our neighborhood]: Carbone's Pizzeria"

My only problem with any of that was that there weren't enough exclamation points.

Trash went to pick up M. Edium from school early. He was home by 4:30. By 4:31, he was in his Radio Flyer and we were on our way to pick up the pizza we'd called ahead to order.

"We're walking to Carbone's!" I said, jumping up and down with excitement.

According to the mailer, the address of the new shop was where Gamy's used to be. As we approached on foot, we noticed that the Gamy's sign was no longer there. But there wasn't a new Carbone's sign, either. Instead, taped to the inside of the glass door, was a hand-lettered sign on a piece of printer paper that read:

"Coming soon: Carbone's -- Opening 3/16." The last digit was in bold because it had clearly been changed from a five.

When I went in to pay for the pizza, I asked the cashier if they had been busy. "More than we expected," he said. "We weren't going to open today, but a lot of people stopped by for lunch, so we did."

I'm used to rushing home with the Carbone's and getting there when it's no longer as hot, and half the toppings have slid off it because of my two-wheeled turns. But this was a much more leisurely dining experience, with Trash pulling the wagon while I carried the box and handed out slices.

I suspect there's pent-up demand in our area for the product. When Chao picked up a second pizza to bring over to our house for lunch the next day, there were two people in front of him in line, and about ten kids from the high school were eating their pizza out front. And all for a place that doesn't even have a sign yet. The only things that could be driving the business is the mailers, previous familiarity with the product in the local market, word of mouth, and the sight of our family walking down the street eating it the previous afternoon.

Obviously we might be in a little bit of trouble here. I can easily see us ending up very poor and very large. We're addressing one of these problems in advance by making a rule that we can only eat there if we walk (or if a friend brings one over). That might not solve the poverty issue, but now that Carbone's is in walking distance, we can always sell one of our cars if we need to. Or, as Trash suggested, offering to let them put one of those ad condoms on one of them in exchange for four pizzas a week. That might seem like a low price, but clearly they're not in that much need of advertising anyway.

I knew there was a reason we've stayed in this house for almost seventeen years.

posted by M. Giant 8:36 PM 0 comments


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