“What do you want Barry?" Tony asked brusquely. Barry just stared back at Tony with his impish little grin which often meant that he was about to ask for something he shouldn’t. This time, Tony was more than prepared to take a hard line against Barry and his ludicrous demands.
“You know what I want Tony" Barry said imperiously. “I want your recipe. I want to sell your pizza, right here in my shop, and I want you to give it to me for free."
Fat chance of that, Tony thought. Even if the little wimp had my recipe, he couldn’t deliver my service, my quality and he can’t even get his hands on my ingredients. I’ve worked with these suppliers for years, getting the best ingredients at the best prices and it’s been a win-win for everybody, now he wants in on the action, just like that, in the name of “partnership". I don’t think so. Not to mention, his under-qualified staff could never pull-off our product. Tony forced a smile. Got to keep it civil though, Corporate wants things civil between us, although I don’t know why.
“I don’t know Barry, that’s a tall order. Let me check with corporate and see if there is anything that I can do for you."
Tony’s astonishment at Barry’s nervy request betrayed itself in his stammering gait as he exited Barry’s dinky little Prescott Pizzeria with its dingy paint job and dilapidated eighties-something dining room, complete with chipped Formica tables and hideous orange indoor/outdoor carpeting.
“Can you believe the nerve of that guy?" Tony muttered to himself as he stopped by Yavapai Pizzeria, ‘Prescott’s pizza exploration station—pizza explored’, to pick up the daily sales report. Corporate is never going to go for it. Prescott Pizzeria, how ridiculous. They don’t even have a sales slogan. “Pizza explored," now that’s going to sell some pizzas.
. . . .
“Well, if we don’t partner with Barry, someone else will. So, I think we should just give him what he wants." It was Don Andersen, corporate lackey, on the other end of the Skype conference.
“Let him partner with someone else! We have the best pizza in town, for the best prices. The mark-up on another partnership will push his prices too high and none of his clients will want to pay it, especially when they could get the quality of Yavapai Pizza from us, for much less. Besides, I’ve ran the numbers. If we give him our recipe, we’ll lose money on each and every pizza he sells. How is that good for US; a partnership is supposed to benefit both parties, not just bonehead Barry!"
“Let’s just give it a try Tony. All the other big pizza joints are partnering with the public pizza joints like Barry’s Prescott Pizzeria. There might be future clients in it for us one day".
“So let me get this straight, we’re going to give Barry our recipe for free, to start making our pizzas with unqualified chefs and low quality ingredients, then he’s going to slap Yavapai’s label on the box and sell it out of his shop. And to top it all off, each time Barry sells a pizza, we lose money?"
“Yes, and don’t forget that we’ll be paying Barry to make our pizza, so he’ll be taking home a little extra in his paycheck each month, not to mention the fact that he will also see a stark increase in his clientele, because word will spread quickly that Prescott Pizzeria is going to be making our pizza now, and giving it to the public for free."
“Wait, wait, wait; he’s going to be giving our pizza away for free?" Tony asked as he tried to pick his jaw up off the floor.
“Yep. But don’t worry; his target market is just high schoolers. You know, the annoying little adolescent types. His clientele isn’t as refined as ours. His increased revenue shouldn’t short change us . . . much anyway."
“How is that fair to our clients who pay good money for our pizza. If he gives it away for free, what’s in it for him?"
“He markets that he sells Yavapai Pizza and his clientele instantly shoots up for all his other products."
“No offense sir, but it might be slightly difficult to compete with someone who gives our pizza away for free, even if he doesn’t get the recipe perfect, like we do here at Yavapai Pizzeria. Close enough is good enough when you are getting a version of our product for free. How in the world will we recover our losses?"
“Well, when they get a taste for our pizza through Barry, they’ll be hooked and have to come to us."
“What if they get their fill of pizza and want to move right into the higher priced restaurants, like Northern Arizona Stake House, in Flagstaff? Do we have any proof that they’ll come to our pizzeria after Barry?" Tony wanted to know.
“Well no, we don’t actually have any proof of that."
“So, wait, one more time. We are going to give our pizza to Prescott for free. Barry, who will earn a stipend, paid by us, for his efforts, will use underqualified staff and cheap ingredients to produce a counterfeit version of our pizza which he will slap in a box with a Yavapai label on it, and in turn, give away to his customers for free; we’ll lose money on all of his pizzas, and to top it all off, we have no way of knowing if we will ever pick-up some of his clientele, due to our new found ‘partnership’?"
“Yep, that about sums it up. We’ll also keep our losses low by not paying you anything extra for going out to train Barry and his staff to make our pizzas" Don said, with an upbeat tone.
“Oh, well that’s reassuring. So, other than the fact that we lose money and likely lose clientele, what’s in it for us again?" Tony asked.
“Partnership, Tony! Aren’t you looking forward to working with Barry? Spending all your extra time coming up with common final recipes, training his staff and overseeing his production? What a great bonding exercise."
“To be honest, we had a pretty good partnership prior, but now Barry’s developed the most annoyingly smug laugh and he’s a nightmare to be around. Plus, he’s cancelled all of the monthly workshops we used to do with the other little pizza shops in the area because he’s afraid they’ll get wind of our partnership and want to partner with us too. To be honest, I’ve never felt more distant from Barry. So besides partnership, is there anything else?"
“Well, we also have the peace of mind that we’re doing what all the other county pizzerias are doing."
“You mean, the ones that are teetering on the verge of bankruptcy and the ones who have slashed their pizza making departments?"
“Yep, those ones. They’re all doing it, so maybe we should too."
“Don, did your mother ever ask you a question about what everyone else was doing and a bridge?"
“What are you talking about Tony?"
“Never mind, Yavapai Pizzeria, over and out".
. . . .
In the coming months, Tony spent most of his free time with Barry who was becoming richer and richer with the increased clientele, and of course, he was becoming subsequently more and more smug.
“Hey Tony, is that your Vespa in the parking lot? I think that I accidently ran over it with my new Hummer. Don’t worry, I’m sure my platinum-level insurance will cover it! Danny’s going to hold down the fort for me again today. I’m headed to Cancun with my new girlfriend, her purse dog and her new surgically enhanced body! Call me if you have any trouble babe!" then he formed his right thumb and forefinger into a gun, clicked his tongue as he pulled the trigger and winked at Tony over the top of his brand-new Ray Ban aviators.
“Gosh that guy is getting on my nerves" Tony said.
Danny, Barry’s protégé, just shrugged his shoulders and went back to grating the mozzarella. Tony had to admit though, Barry was doing a fair job with his pizza. Despite his annoying demeanor, Barry had done some culinary studies and his pizza was improving, with painstaking efforts by Tony. The problem was Danny. Danny was a good guy and he meant well, but he was left making the pizza more and more often and Danny, well, Danny was horrible. When Danny was left alone, the pizza looked and tasted bad, nevertheless, he’d shove it in the Yavapai box and some people thought it was Tony’s pizza. Tony and Yavapai Pizzeria were starting to get a bad reputation, mostly because of poor Danny.
“He means well, he’s just never made pizza before and he’s only had the most basic culinary training. There’s not a lot that I can do with him. He just doesn’t have the skills" Tony complained to Don Andersen via Skype. “What can I do? His pizza is horrible and he’s making us look bad."
“Just be patient with him. You’ll have to. I just got a Tweet from Barry. He’s not coming back from Cancun. He’s started working for Amway in Mexico. Apparently, they haven’t heard much about multi-level marketing down there and the Poblanos are buying into it, hook, line and sinker. Barry’s making money hand-over-fist down there. He’s going to be bigger than the cartels, lucky son-of-a-buck! He’s making Danny the new store manager."
“Danny! He’s not even qualified to make our pizza."
“According to Barry he is and that’s good enough for us. We really don’t have a say in the matter."
“Why not?!! It’s our pizza, isn’t it?" Tony was furious. “Don’t we have a say in who makes it. We’d never hire the likes of Danny to make our pizza here at Yavapai, yet he’s at Barry’s making horrid pizza and putting our name on it. What is Norther Arizona Stake House hears about this? They’ll never consider my application!" Tony was shouting now and that little vein was coming out on his forheas that looked like the Flux Capacitor from Back to the Future.
“Calm down Tony! You’re a great chef and trainer. I’m sure you’ll make it all alright. How’s that pay increase treating you? Three percent this year, not bad, right?"
. . . .
But things didn’t turn out alright. Danny continued to pump out horrible Yavapai pizza at the Prescott shop. He continued catering to adolescents, but most of them already had eaten all of their required pizza by the time they wanted to come see Tony and if by some miracle they weren’t ruined for pizza consumption by Danny, most would-be customers figured that they’d already had Tony’s pizza, because “it’s all Yavapai Pizza anyway, right?" Eventually there weren’t enough clients for Tony and Danny to both stay open, so Yavapai Pizza closed down. Danny still pumped out his version of Yavapai Pizza, but community members were locked out entirely because they didn’t feel comfortable picking through the hormones and SnapChat messages in order to actually pick-up Yavapai Pizza at Danny’s shop.
So, Tony packed up his “Top Cheff" and “Cheff of the Year" medallions and trophies and loaded them onto his beat-up Vespa and turned the lights off on his beloved little pizza shop for the last time. As legend has it, he carved out a pint-sized life teaching Italian at a quaint little community college in Arizona somewhere. Those culinary trips abroad finally paid off for something, but unfortunately for Tony, it wasn’t for really great pizza at an affordable price. It’s a shame too, Italian professors are a dime a dozen, what the world needs more than anything though, is a really great pizza chef.