“What are people ordering lately? Not a lot of salads. People have been splurging on the hearty stuff. I know my workout routine has been out the window for a little while now.”
– Jim Williamson, Slices Pizza
4249 Ridge Ave.
Lookit! Checking in with Jim Williamson, owner of Slices, about keeping neighbors happy, what’s popular during the shutdown, community support, and Jim’s favorites menu items. A few quotes from the interview (full transcript below)
- It’s great to see other businesses in our area support each other. We’ve got a tight little group and everyone’s kind of looking out for each other. I’ve been patronizing LeBus, Thunder Mug, Trolley Car Café, and other places. And they’ve ordered plenty from us too.
- Our team has been great and I appreciate what they’ve done to keep Slices going, especially with the threat of COVID. Just like the workers in the grocery stores, they’re putting themselves out there to feed people who are locked down.
- Customers have been very appreciative. They’ve been personally thanking our drivers for delivering during the quarantine. They’ve also given them really good tips. It means a lot to our delivery people.
So thanks for taking some time. I appreciate it. How are things going at the shop?
Good. It’s a nice new, “new normal”. We used to be very, very busy in the morning and lots of catering orders to the different schools, medical schools, universities, and all that catering has gone away. We’re actually slow at lunch now. You know, the business people aren’t in the office and coming down. The landscapers and construction workers haven’t been working and they’re not coming down.
But we’ve been busier at nighttime. So we’ve had to kind of shift things around a little bit. Adjusting the delivery and the takeout only took a week or two to get going correctly. But we’re open. We’re meeting payrolls. We’re keeping people that wanted work employed. And it’s been going good and we’re providing people food to the door with contactless delivery. We’re real careful inside about who touches what and that kinda stuff and it’s been interesting. Real interesting.
The Local 1:21
Yeah this is something given how long – how long have you been in business at that location on Ridge Ave?
Going on 16 years, July 4th weekend.
The Local 2:17
Wow. Any specials coming up to recognize that milestone?
To be honest with ya, we’ve been so busy we haven’t even thought about it.
The Local 1:42
I was gonna say.
Last year, we did roll back prices on a couple items to what they were when we first opened like the price of a pizza. That kind of stuff. I don’t know. Depends on what’s going on this time around.
The Local 1:55
Yeah, you got your hands full with other things right now. I get that. How’s the team holding up?
The team is good. Like other businesses that are open, we’ve had a number of employees that had concerns, possible health issues and left our employ so we were kinda short staffed. So even though we’re not as busy as we were before, we’re doing it with less a lot less people. I know myself I’ve been in every morning, mopping the floor, making dough, mixing the sauce, scrubbing the bathroom, and all the stuff I did when we first opened 16 years ago. And then we bring the staff just when we need them so we don’t burn them out. Most of our guys are on six days at the moment. They’re really working hard and we appreciate them stepping up because – just like the people in the hospitals, just like the people in the grocery stores – everyone’s taking a little bit of a risk. And it’s to be commended because those guys have done a great job for us.
The Local 3:02
Yes. How are your hours now? You’ve got a long day so your guys are in there quite a bit?
We cut the hours back a little bit. We’re 11AM till 9PM during the week and till 10PM on the weekend. We used to go to midnight but people have nothing going on, there’s no sports to watch, no games to go to. Everything’s winding down much sooner. My partner Jimmy Joyce’s kids are home from school. So he’s got three kids that he’s got to watch during the day, his wife’s working so that’s a new new normal. And he’s doing online schooling with three children and then coming in working nighttime.
The Local 3:53
How are you? How are you holding up? You getting cabin fever every so often or are you just too busy for that?
To be honest, I feel like I’ve been too busy for that. We’ve been doing good. My wife’s a nurse. And we try ourselves to really be careful who we’re around at any point and try to be extra careful and extra safe with our coverage, and equipment and washing hands and that kind of stuff. But yes I think like everybody I’ve watched all I want to watch on Netflix and the YouTube channel I’m going through.
The Local 4:32
That’s your stress relief, the streaming. Got a question for you that you might not be often asked. I know you’ve got a great menu, my favorite is the buffalo chicken pizza. I’m sure there’s 10,000 people out there that love the buffalo chicken pizza. But what do you order? If you order from slices? What’s your thing?
My favorite? Two things, one is a salad. We have a French Connection salad with baby spinach, crumbled blue cheese, sliced Granny Smith apples, honey walnuts, either a raspberry vinaigrette or Balsamic vinaigrette dressing. It’s dynamite because it’s different flavors and textures and you get the bitterness of the blue cheese but the sweetness of the dressing, you get the crunch of the apple with the snap of the tartness. It’s a very gourmet salad for a pizza shop. That’s one of my favorites. When I’m being bad, an Italian Stromboli is one of my favorite things too.
The Local 5:38
Okay. What are you seeing as far as people ordering these days? Anything popping up as a real popular item?
Not a lot of salads. People are aren’t eating as healthy, maybe it’s because they’re home. There’s nobody at work watching over your shoulder so people have been splurging. I know myself. My workout routine has been out the window. I figure we’ll pick it up on the other side of this. It’s been it’s more of the family ordering at home and not the work catering stuff that we normally tend to do.
The Local 6:21
And online ordering hasn’t been a problem? No one’s really coming into the store. It’s been mostly handing orders to people at curbside sort of thing.
That’s correct. Even if they come to the door, we have a phone number or they can pull it up on their phone and order that way. And then we can take care of everything and just hand it out the door to them and have the least amount of exposure that we possibly can.
That’s correct. Even if they come to the door, we have a phone number and they can order that way. Then we can take care of everything and just hand it out the door to them and have the least amount of exposure that we possibly can.
The Local 6:48
All right. Have you heard any feedback from anybody who’s had any nervousness about ordering food out? I’ve heard from some friends say I don’t know about that, but it would seem with pizza you pull it right out of an oven. You’ve got the paddle, you drop it right into the box.
That’s right and if have gloves on when it goes out and I feel pretty confident. We were able to order from one of our suppliers this gigantic thing of wipes. And we were able to get the Purell hand sanitizer in. Every order, we’re wiping, wiping, wiping the door handles the counter, and the people putting new gloves on. So we’re really trying to take it seriously as best we can.
The Local 7:32
And do you have I guess there’s really no indication at this point about when the lockdown ends, but you’re already doing a delivery service anyway. I mean, besides the precautions and all that stuff. You’re able to just really be nimble…
Yeah, absolutely. We are definitely one of the lucky ones. I drive by and, you know, so many of the bars and the breweries and restaurants and places like that, I feel for them, because they have nothing coming in, or very little. And doing the delivery, it’s new for them. For us, it’s kind of what we’ve been doing for years. It’s also it’s nice, there’s no traffic out there so our delivery guys are zoom, zoom. You get the delivery much quicker than you normally would.
The Local 8:33
Your delivery’s much quicker than normal, that’s a good thing. It’s a very fine silver lining. So do you have any specials that you want to share with us currently or anything that people would want to know about?
We’re trying to get the words out to people ordering pizza. Normally on Mondays, we have a pizza special – buy one large and get a second for $1 99. Usually we do that Monday, our slowest day of the week. And we’ve opened that if people mention it through the newspaper ad, we’ll do it any day of the week. So we’ve extended our best specials all the way through, doing it with the East Falls Local folks.
The Local 9:21
Thank you very much Jim. We appreciate it. One last question before I let you go. We’re trying to interview people in the neighborhood, or businesses, or organizations to give them some love. Do you have anyone in mind that we should touch base with next?
How much time do you have? It’s been kind of neat because the businesses that have stayed open The Trolley Car, Thunder mug, LeBus. I’ve bought more bread from LeBus in the last six, seven weeks and given it out to people and brought it home to our house and given it to employees. And you know, you do what restaurant people do — you give 100% tip and say Hey, thank you. And then they come and reciprocate and it’s been kind of neat kind of a tight little culture on the block and everyone’s kind of looking out for each other. We’ve sent some pizzas down to Jasmine at the Trolley Car and they’ve sent some milkshakes up our way, which has been nice. The other thing that’s been great is the customers, the vast majority, have seen what stress people are under and have way upped the tips for the drivers or for people that come to our door. And they say hey, you know, there’s five extra bucks or seven extra. Put it into tip jar and thank you guys. It’s been real it’s been real nice and it’s, it helps on our end for our people to feel appreciated and to feel that the hard work doesn’t go unnoticed.
The Local 10:59
You can see the signs. It’s nice that people are digging a little deeper. And showing their appreciation
And true appreciation. I can tell the difference when somebody is really saying hey thank you very much and somebody who doesn’t. I think people are much more appreciated these days, which is definitely a positive to this crisis.
The Local 11:26
Yes. Well, thank you again for making some time. Once again, this is the Local Live with Jim Williamson from Slices Pizza.
Can I give one plug? Jasmine from the Trolley Car is one of the lead people in this but there is a GoFundMe page for the hospitality workers in the East falls area. And they’ve collected money we’ve come up with an idea that if you donate 50 bucks, you’re going to get your name in a hat and Slices will give a $50 gift certificate to the winner of the drawing. It’s for a lot of those people that have been really severely affected in the hospitality business. It would help them out. Just a little bit. We’ve actually had one of our people that was severely cut back in their hours. They applied to the Fund, went through the process. It wasn’t this big long thing and that, you know, got him a couple of dollars that helped towards buying groceries that week. I guess that’s to say it works. The money’s coming in and money’s going out right away, which is great.
The Local 13:00
Okay. Well, thank you very much, Jim. We’ll make sure we get that information up as well as your website, your social media contacts, all that stuff in the comments. And thanks again for the time and you be well.
Thank you Steve. Appreciate it.