Kudos and raspberries to this month's newsmakers

March 17, 2003

* The Fire First, Ask Questions Later award goes out to Randy Saluk, owner of Frank's Pizza in Selkirk, Ontario.

In February, delivery driver Marcella McAulay rushed to the aid of a shooting victim while on the clock at Frank's -- and then was fired for her kindness on March 6.

"We expect her to be working here when not on a delivery, to aid the cook and clean and cut cheese and answer the phone and not be driving around," Saluk told one newspaper.

Frank's manager Jason Boyd told another paper that McAulay "wasn't dismissed because she was at the shooting scene. We feel just as bad as the next guy, but we don't pay employees to be [emergency medical technicians]."

Steve Coomes, Editor

McAulay's firing made headlines in newspapers across North America and calls for boycotts of Frank's wound up on the "letters to the editor" pages of multiple Canadian newspapers.

Edmontonian Lloyd Stefaniuk wrote, "If I had a chance, I'd blackball that company," while Mark Jansen, from Port Perry, Ontario, wrote, "I'm not from Selkirk but I know that if I were, there is no way that I would ever set foot in Frank's Pizza."

Memo to Saluk: Make small batches of dough and order very little produce for the next several weeks. No sense in having all those perishables on hand when you won't be selling too many pizzas for now.

* Naturally, a Do the Right Thing award goes to McAulay for demonstrating that someone has her priorities are in order.

* A Seize the Moment award goes out to Derek Young, the Winnipeg operations supervisor for Domino's Pizza, who reportedly has offered McAulay a job.

"That's the kind of person that I want working for us," he told the Winnipeg Sun. "The pizza is not as important as the people's health. It's just not logical to not see the greater good."

To date, McAulay has not accepted the Domino's job.

Young said Domino's national office plans to discuss the McAulay situation in training seminars "to teach people what can happen if they don't manage properly."

Memo to Frank's manager Boyd: Sign up for that Domino's training session.

* An Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Similarly award goes out to Pizza Hut for its recent introduction of its Baked Cinnamon Sticks. As if there wasn't enough cinnamon-showered dough for sale other pizza outlets, Pizza Hut stepped up to show that it, too, would rather duplicate than innovate.

I'm sure some Red Roofers will accuse me of criticizing their brand because it's the largest, most visible and best-heeled pizza company in the world, but that's not quite correct.

The company deserves this dishonor because I expect better of the largest, most visible and best-heeled pizza company in the world (You could just about whip that into a catchy ad slogan, eh?) With such vast resources, surely its R&D department can come up with something better than some cinna-come-lately item.

Memo to spice makers: Add a third shift to your cinnamon-making line.

* A Take a Look at Yourself award goes to Andre Jehan, owner of the 23-store Pizza Schmizza chain in Portland, Ore. Eager to know what his customers think about their Schmizza experiences, Jehan is urging them to post their comments -- for all the world to see -- on his chain's Web site.

At weekly managers' meetings Jehan reviews some of the comments and suggestions. The process, he told a Hillsboro Argus reporter, has been very positive, as have the majority of the comments.

* A Superman award goes out to Paradise Tomato Kitchens for employing an X-ray scanner on its production line to detect otherwise invisible foreign objects in its tomato products.

Memo to Paradise: Call Pizza Hut and explain to the difference between innovation and duplication.

* A Patience Is a Virtue award goes to PizzaExpress chairman Nigel Colne for accepting too quickly what may turn out to be a low offer for the embattled chain.

A bid put forth by an investment consortium led by former PizzaExpress chairman Luke Johnson and backed by ABN Amro Capital, is expected to be trumped by a bid from TDR Capital and Capricorn Ventures.

What's worse, should PizzaExpress take TDR-Capricorn's bid, PizzaExpress will have to pay Johnson's group $4.2 million for breaking the deal. How's that for a margin breaker.

Knowing Colne has put the company -- which already is strapped for cash -- into such a financial pickle has moved some investors to call for his resignation.

Memo to Colne: You gotta learn when to hold 'em, learn when to fold 'em.

* Lastly, a Weather Be Damned award goes out to attendees of the Mid-Ohio Restaurant, Soft-Serve & Pizza Show, held last month in Columbus. Travelers from south of Columbus navigated severe thunderstorms and torrential downpours en route to the show, while those coming from the north battled freezing rain and snow.

And were that not miserable enough, three inches of snow fell in five hours during the last morning of the show.

Still, attendance was strong, according to show organizers, and barely any of the more than 75 contestants in the U.S. Pizza Team trials succumbed to foul conditions.

Memo to attendees: See you next year, rain or shine.

Topics: Commentary , Independent Operation , Pizza Sauce

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