UNSUNG HEROES Mamma Mia! Bedford County folks love their pizza!

Tuesday, May 12, 2020
Papa John's Pizza employees note their business has only increased during the pandemic. Apparently pizza must be on food favorite list of local residents, they say. From left, driver Priscilla Tibbs, manager Misti Smith and driver Chris Phillips.
T-G Photo by Dawn Hankins

Some of us can’t live without that stretchy gooey cheese and the selection of 15 to 20 different toppings, at least once or twice a week, according to local pizza establishment managers-even in the middle of a pandemic.

Pizza establishment employees say they’ve been swamped, particularly last week. While most people have self-quarantined, the public obviously, judging from the industry profit margins, have come to expect these workers to stay on the front lines.

It’s been reported all over the country how pizza delivery workers are putting themselves at risk, particularly going to homes during the pandemic. Local workers are still protecting themselves, within company protocols, by wearing face masks.

Bocelli pizza has a special sauce which people just can't get enough of, say employees. The store, while having to run at half capacity right now, is still cooking up local favorites, like pizza.
T-G Photo by Dawn Hankins

Could we actually live without pizza? Judging by how much their business has gone up during COVID-19, most local pizza makers say, doubtful. Well, there would likely be protests.

“I would say our business has gone up [since COVID-19] by 57 percent,” says Misti Smith, manager of the Papa John’s on North Main.

Perhaps it’s Papa’s special sauce or as some people across America have speculated, maybe it’s even the Italian-looking box! While no one can be completely sure why, Bedford Countians certainly have a love for all things spicy.

Nancy Brodock says in her 18-year career with Domino's Pizza, she doesn't remember every taking out this many pizzas in such a short length of time. But, she's glad to do it.
T-G Photo by Dawn Hankins

Bocelli Pizza on the public square specializes with toppings like barbecue and pineapple; people love it, managers note. That secret family sauce keeps them coming back time and time again, manager Kisha Meek explains.

At the end of their long work shifts, it’s those frontline pizza establishment workers-those who seem to appreciate their public-who are making all the difference during this pandemic. It’s, well, keeping people happy.

Take Domino’s delivery person Nancy Brodock, who’s worked for Domino’s for 18 years. People have become accustomed to her face, manager Corey Grubbs notes.

After swinging back in the parking lot recently, Brodock says, “I couldn’t tell you how many pizzas I’ve delivered since the pandemic started. I’ve lost count. I do know it has been a whole lot!”

While some people order speciality pizzas, the managers note that many, like little “Kevin” from the 1980s movie, “Home Alone,” just want a plain cheese pizza. Most, like “Kevin,” want it delivered in 30 minutes or less.

After all, pizza by delivery means you have the luxury of remaining in your PJs, ordering and paying on line. In 15 minutes or less, that uniformed delivery person, likely wearing a facial mask right now for protection, so “don’t get scared now,” will generally have your hot dinner or lunch right there in minutes.

You may be someone who orders from your favorite establishment so much that you know your delivery person by name? This is why pizza delivery folks are being honored in this unsung hero section. They are as much a part of Bedford County fabric during this pandemic as the sanitation worker (Actually, they’re the ones who pick up those leftover cardboard boxes, so don’t forget him or her at Christmas time.)

Local pizza establishment managers note that they really can’t fathom how many pounds of pizza dough, sauce and toppings have exited their front doors since the pandemic began. Judging from the long lines at his store, Grubbs surmises that people are quarantined right now together and it seems many must not like to cook; they’re ordering A LOT of pizza during their quarantine time.

“Last week, they were lined up around the building to the street.”

Customers cannot walk into Domino’s or Papa John’s just yet, so orders have to be taken online or, yes, at the store’s drive-through window, if they have one. Meeks advised while she’s a dine-in restaurant, she can only operate at half capacity right now, due to state orders.

While her business is great too, Meeks says the most challenging part, for her, during this pandemic is not being able to get up “close and personal.” She’s looking forward to when her establishment on the east side of the public square can once again go back to being packed on Friday and Saturday nights.

One thing for sure, all pizza place managers note, is they couldn’t have accomplished all they have to provide the local community with it’s favorite food, had it not been for those faithful employees. Their best advice during this pandemic is if people want to honor their delivery drivers or restaurant servers by stepping up their tips, now might be a great time to pay it forward.