Of mice and men … and pizzerias

March 8, 2011 | by D. B. "Libby" Libhart

Business ethics, or lack of them, apparently has made its way into the world of pizza in a Philadelphia suburb. A pizzeria owner had a problem with mice that, for whatever reason, he blamed on two competitors in the neighborhood. He visited one of his rivals and asked to use the restroom. After he left, they found footprints on the toilet seat and noticed that the ceiling tiles had been disturbed. A white bag was found tucked above the tiles.

The owner turned the bag over to two police officers who happened to be eating there. Three live white mice were found inside the bag. The same man also visited the pizzeria across the street where a second white bag was found in a trash can inside the restaurant with 6 white mice inside. The culprit now faces criminal charges of disorderly conduct, harassment and animal cruelty. Animal cruelty - to the mice? How bad was the food? OK, bad joke.

The pizza shop owner’s actions raise a few questions. What thought processes does someone go through to do something like that? Are thoughts and actions corrupted by this era of ponzi schemes and mortgage frauds, “get over on the competition” reality TV shows; or was it an act of simple immaturity? This one is hard to call. The police called the act “food terrorism by mice.”

Competition causes diverse if not strange reactions. Competition is the basis of our free enterprise way of life. Market share is based on the ability to offer and deliver a product or service that is attractive to the consumer. Gaining a competitive edge is how you deliver that product or service. Part of marketing ploys is to compare and contrast. Perhaps the next step in this owner’s action was just that; “Look, I have rodents, but not as many as them!”

It remains to be seen what will happen next. The owner’s business could take a huge hit based on the owner’s actions. His reputation may be tarnished beyond repair. Or, all could be forgiven and forgotten, if he has the best pizza at the best price. If I was his customer though, I would have to ask myself, “What would he do if he didn’t like me?”

Topics: Business Strategy and Profitability , Commentary , Food Safety , Loss Prevention

D. B. "Libby" Libhart / D.B. “Libby” Libhart has more than 30 years of experience in the loss prevention industry. He has provided security and safety leadership in retail settings such as department stores, drug stores and quick-service restaurants. Before launching his own company, LossBusters, Libby served as the Senior Director of U.S. Security and Safety for McDonald’s Corp. He entered the QSR industry with Taco Bell and subsequently YUM Brands.
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