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A Slight Rant: Silly Pizza Rules

Greetings,

I frequent a little pizza place often....too often... at least three times a week for lunches. They have good soups and are noted for their thin crust pizza with interesting toppings.

Last night I called to place my order and asked for "half vegaholic" and "half buffalo chicken."
I am told "we don't do half and half pizzas anymore."
I say I had one two days ago.
I am told " we *won't* do it anymore. Order two smalls."
Two smalls would cost about $6 more than one large.

I don't want/need two pizzas.

And, to add background data, In the past we were always charged as if it were a whole pizza with the higher-priced topping.

Their pizzas are already 30% more expensive than the norm in my community, but the interesting toppings are what makes the price acceptable imho.

My questions are:

Is asking for a half and half pizza an unreasonable request by the customer?

Does refusing to do so without explanation or notification in change of policy make any sense?

I checked their web site this morning and there is no mention of this.

Chowhounders, how would you feel?

Thanks!

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  1. While most places will accomodate halving...the resto in question is not required to do so. They are entitled to implement whatever policy they choose, as long as it is applied consistently.

    As a three time per week regular it would have been nice if they had mentioned the new policy to you in a more personal way ("Mr. Jones, we know you always order the X half/Y half. Unfortunately we will no longer be able to do this"). Nice yes, realistic or required, probably not.

    2 Replies
    1. re: HDinCentralME

      and they can implement these policies until they realize that they don't work and people stop buying their pizza. On the other hand if it makes no difference to them financially then they will carry on.

      1. re: smartie

        That's true. They may "suffer the consequences" of this decision.

    2. Personally, I've always considered the "half this and half that" pizza a silly way to order. I can't imagine ordering a sub, a sandwich, a steak or whatever like that. So why pizza? Just plain indulgent silly.

      So yes, I think their policy is fair.

      And for those who love comic strips; Foxtrot just recently did a daily strip about this! Too funny!
      http://www.gocomics.com/foxtrot/2010/...

      4 Replies
      1. re: Quine

        it is nothing like making a steak or even a sandwich - the toppings are assembled last before the pizza goes in the oven, so ti is barely more work that doing a whole pie, and probably less work than doing 2 pies

        1. re: thew

          I agree, when I make pizza at home I often put different toppings on each half. it's barely any more work. Besides, in Italy it's very common to see a "quattro stagioni" pizza, with four different toppings. And they should know!

          That being said, it's their restaurant, and unfortunately they can do whatever they want.

          1. re: visciole

            Four different toppings, each on 1/4 is no more work than putting all of them evenly on the pizza. In OP's case it's more likely that the vegaholic and the buffalo chicken each have 4 toppings with none in common and it's more work putting on 8 toppings than 4..

        2. re: Quine

          When we owned a sub shop, we received tons of orders that were half this and half that. And yes, it was annoying, but no, we never said no.

        3. Are there sauces different for the vegaholic than the buffalo chicken? Or is it just the toppings?

          It would seem to me that preparing half and half is much more labor intensive - measuring out half portions if the whole portion is already pre-measured as well as keeping that line of demarcation separate.

          It's a business and they are allowed to do whatever they choose, including raising prices, changing policy or going out of business tomorrow. I personally have never ordered half and half; if there is something I don't like, I peel it off and give it to the other people or my dogs.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Cathy

            "It would seem to me that preparing half and half is much more labor intensive - measuring out half portions if the whole portion is already pre-measured as well as keeping that line of demarcation separate."

            Typically, anywhere I have ordered 1/2 & 1/2, we always got charged for all of the toppings as they would use the portion used on an entire pizza on just the 1/2.

            I agree that their attitude if accurately portrayed was poor especially to a regular. However, they are entitled to change their policy and if enough people don't like it, hopefully they will revert back. Otherwise, it's your choice. I've been there. I had a favorite restaurant that I frequented about once a week. Without going into detail as that is not what this thread is about, the owner did an about face one day and I just could never set foot inside again. Walking by one day, I noticed a change in ownership. I went back but unfortunately, it was never as good. Fortunately, there are a lot of options out there just not necessarily ones that can fill the same shoes.

          2. I'm in the camp that says it's fair of them, but they handled it rudely. However, if as Cathy suggests those two you chose have different sauces, I think that's perfectly reasonable of them. It's kind of like when two people at a sub shop want a footlong sandwich but ask for it to be dressed different ways on each half because that's cheaper than buying six inch ones. I don't think that's reasonable. Part of the rationale behind the larger one being less expensive per serving is because of the economy of scale on the labor.

            On the other hand, if it goes all the way to them refusing to do one half pepperoni, one half onions -- that's just stupid. They must have enough business that they can afford to run a bunch of people off.

            1 Reply
            1. re: dmd_kc

              My first impulse is this is ridiculous. We occasionally get one large pizza for our family to share, and sometimes we ask for half plain, half mushroom. Whatever. Never had an issue. If they gave us a hard time I'd think they are nuts. It reminds me of a new bagel shop that opened up around us. All the shops around our area give a baker's dozen. Don't know if that's the case everywhere, but it is absolutely the norm here. This new shop, when we went to get a dozen bagels, said, no they don't do a baker's dozen. Now this is just bad practice; given that the expectation is a baker's dozen, just price your dozen bagels a bit more. I doubt people pay much attention to the dozen price, but they definately get irritated with the "no baker's dozen" idea. So in this pizza case, say "we have a $2 extra charge for half and half". Whatever. I think that would be WAY more acceptable than refusing to do it at all.

            2. half and half pie, I don't find unreasonable, 'specially if they've done it in the past....I DO find buffalo chicken on a pizza a llittle unreasonable tho! ;)

              4 Replies
              1. re: BiscuitBoy

                Finally, someone who agrees with me that buffalo chicken does not belong on a pizza!...and blueberries do not belong in bagels. (I am so glad I got that off my chest.LOL)

                1. re: pesto

                  And finally, someone who agrees with me that blueberries do not belong in bagels! An interesting observation... I have a coworker who from time to time stops off at Panera and brings in muffins and bagels for everyone in the office. Now, I'm a savory kind of gal in terms of breakfast food (as opposed to the muffin, donuts, pastry kind of gal) and my heart would do a little happy leap when I spied that box of goodies in the work room but I was repeatedly disappointed to find that she had bought sweet bagels - blueberry, apple cinnamon, raisin, chocolate, etc. Each time I figured that maybe I had missed the onion, sesame, egg, everything, etc. bagels. I finally realized that to this co-worker a bagel by definition was something sweet, like a donut, hence, her selection of bagels and flavored cream cheeses (strawberry, cinnamon, etc.). Don't get me wrong, I appreciate her generosity and thoughtfulness and I would never say anything but thank you for thinking of all of us, but I just finally realized that I had to learn to control my heart's little happy dance at the sight of that box...

              2. I worked a pizza oven while going through college eons ago. The boss did not allow half and half pizzas.

                His reasonsing: It's hard enough for the oven man to adjust for temperature variations in the ovens, but differnet toppings cook at differnt speeds. The mushroom side of a half mushroom half bacon would be burnt to a crisp before the raw bacon was fully cooked (we did not precook bacon and merely warm it on the pizza). A pizza with the same topping(s) all over the pie came out as a better quality pie.

                9 Replies
                1. re: bagelman01

                  this is incredibly interesting! i had never thought of that.

                    1. re: bagelman01

                      hang on this sounds stupid, so a pizza with mixed mushrooms and bacon cooks how exactly? Surely the mushrooms cook before the bacon anyway.

                      1. re: smartie

                        No, that's not the point.

                        The point is that a whole pizza with bacon, pepperoni and mushrooms for example will require a different cooking time than a whole pizza with bell peppers, tomatoes and olives.

                      2. re: bagelman01

                        so if he makes a bacon and mushroom omelette does he put the longer cooking topping on 1st and then pulls out the pie and adds the other topping?

                        i seriously doubt it

                        1. re: thew

                          Don't really understand what an omellete has to do with pizza. You wouldn't use raw bacon in an omellete.

                          If I was making a bacon and mushroom pie, I would use thicker mushrooms, and might put mushrooms under the cheese, whiile the raw bacon would gon on top of the cheese. The point is that the pizza has the same topping(s) all over and will take a specific amount of oven time. A pie with one set of toppings on one half and a different assortment on the other may require different cooking times.

                          1. re: bagelman01

                            lol omelette was a complete brainfart caused by doing several things at once...

                            i clearly meant - if he makes a mushroom and bacon PIZZA.....

                            like this:

                            so if he makes a bacon and mushroom pizza does he put the longer cooking topping on 1st and then pulls out the pie and adds the other topping?

                            i seriously doubt it

                            1. re: thew

                              No, as I stated above, either use more thickly sliced raw mushrooms, or place the mushrooms under the cheese.

                              In fact, we were taught when making pizza, if the item is already cooked: pepperoni, canned vegetables, meatball slices, it goes under the cheese. IF the topping is raw: bacon, raw hamburg, uncooked meatball, raw vegetables, it goes on top of the cheese.

                              The cheese protects the already cooked topppings from drying out in the oven.

                              This was all learned about 40 years ago....................................

                          2. re: thew

                            eeeew! Please explain how you make omelettes! OMG I seriously hoped you have never cooked for me!!!

                        2. In this regard a restaurant can do whatever it wants. It's really not a question of reasonable or not, or whether it makes any sense to you.

                          If you are not happy with the policy, find another pizza place to order from.

                          1. 1. I think asking for an ingredient on half (eg. anchovies which I love but thousands don't) is OK since it's no more work to put the topping on 1/2, but asking for two radically different pizzas on half is an unreasonable request imho. If the toppings on the two pizzas were totally different it would be as much work as making 2 smalls but for $6 less revenue. Although as others have pointed out, x-6 is still more than zero.
                            2. If they never offered 1/2 and 1/2 pizzas and just gave it to you as an accommodation it's OK to change their policy without explanation or notification. If it is offered on their website then no, it doesn't make any sense.
                            3. If I were you I would feel they don't want my business anymore.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: hsk

                              Re: #1, I adore anchovy pizza, but if there's anything not to do a half of, it's that.

                              A friend of mine went through a calligraphy phase some years ago - whenever someone would say something she thought memorable, she'd draw it up and present it to the person who said it, matted for framing. Mine reads, "Putting anchovies on half a pizza is like letting the Huns take over half of your city."

                              1. re: hsk

                                I totally agree with #1. A coupla different toppings isn't a huge deal, but those are two totally different pizzas, complete with different base sauces. I think two small pizzas is the way to go.

                              2. I think we all know that they can do whatever they want.

                                The problem is that a 1/2 and 1/2 is so normal at most pizza places, it doesn't feel like a special request. The place I ordered from last night had the 1/2 and 1/2 option listed on their online order form.

                                I make it a habit of not being a customer at places that make me feel like they are doing me a favor by taking my money. If that is how you feel, stop going there. I'd write a Yelp review or a letter to the owner and tell them why you wont be back.

                                1. yes, i wouldn't like spending the extra money.
                                  that said, i would rather pay the additional money to get the pizza i wanted as opposed to an inferior pizza that costs less.
                                  sometimes it pays not to dwell on these things.
                                  life is short.
                                  the pizza is good.

                                  1. Think that my first step would be to call the manager/owner and question him about the new policy. It could be that you just spoke to an employee in a snit.

                                    If it is his new policy, I would just explain to him that you will not be back as a customer because of this policy.

                                    That being said, the restaurant has the right to implement whatever policies they feel are needed to run their business. You have the right to question such policies and determine whether or not you wish to remain a customer of that business.

                                    1. Is asking for a half and half pizza an unreasonable request by the customer?
                                      A - jfood does not think half-half is unreasonabol and he has been ordering that way for 50 years

                                      Does refusing to do so without explanation or notification in change of policy make any sense?
                                      A - They did "we don't do half and half pizzas anymore." Notification? How, send you an email? They told you when you called so notification was done. You just did not like the answer.

                                      I checked their web site this morning and there is no mention of this.
                                      A - It's a website. Jfood thinks you are making way too much of what a website is designed to do

                                      Chowhounders, how would you feel?
                                      A - Major yawn, jfood would deal with it and move on, order 2 smalls or choose a sing 100% covering, or find another pizza joint. Scale of 1-10, maybe a 0.5.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: jfood

                                        Yes. Many might say that is why God gave us two feet - to find a restaurant that we like better. Now, notifying the management of our decision is not a bad idea, but likely to never produce any worthwhile responses.

                                        Hunt

                                      2. Hmm well its definitely the restaurant's choice. If it bothers you that much, patronize another?

                                        1. The restaurant is entitled to do what ever it wants. The customers can act accordingly.

                                          This rule change seems like nothing more that a money grab. Why else would you want to annoy longtime loyal customers?

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: Withnail42

                                            What I don't get about the responses here is that of course the restaurant can do whatever it wants. But are any of the discussions here on NAF about what a restaurant *CAN* do? Isn't it rather about customer or area expectations about what is *reasonable* and whether a patron should expect different? It is just a vent after all, not asking whether he ought to submit a complaint to the BBB.

                                          2. It's not normal in the UK or Italy to ask for "half and half" and I wouldn't dream of doing so. As for buffalo chicken on a pizza - words fail me.... ;-)

                                            6 Replies
                                            1. re: greedygirl

                                              A word of warning - never, NEVER set foot in a California Pizza Kitchen! ;-)

                                              1. re: BobB

                                                As I live in London, it's unlikely, but thanks for the warning! To be honest, I've been spoiled by my local pizza jaunt, which is much lauded, and only makes six pizzas plus two daily specials.

                                                http://francomanca.co.uk/

                                                1. re: greedygirl

                                                  Lucky you! CPK is all over the US and Asia but not in Europe - yet.

                                                  As for Franco Manca - interesting. The Web page says their specially-made oven produces "slow levitation." Flying pizzas?

                                                  1. re: BobB

                                                    Judging by the queues, they certainly fly out of the oven....

                                              2. re: greedygirl

                                                But in Italy one can get "quarter and quarter and quarter and quarter".
                                                Known more simply as Quattro Stagione.

                                                1. re: cap

                                                  Yes, but that's a pizza that you order. You couldn't ask for hall quattro formaggi and half margarita, for example. It's not the norm in the UK either.

                                              3. As in any relationship, you have two and ONLY two choices: adapt to the new circumstances or find another pizza place.

                                                This is also excellent marriage advice.

                                                1. Half-n-half pizzas have been around for many, many years, and are not out of the ordinary. Now, when a restaurant makes a major change in the menu, I just vote with my $.

                                                  It happens all the time - new chef, new owner, new GM, or one having read some article in a restaurant mag. Let them know, and just do not dine there again.

                                                  Over my life, I have encountered many "well, we do not do that anymore." I make my feelings heard, and walk away.

                                                  Hunt

                                                  4 Replies
                                                  1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                    Amen, Bill.
                                                    They are blatantly greedy, thinking you'll put up with it. I've made pizza's for a living & there is no real reason not to do 1/2 & 1/2. As a customer I'd walk at the refusal.
                                                    Late last year I boycotted a beloved local pub as it became glaringly evident that the owners & waitstaff were loudly racist. I have a no-tolerance policy on that & I won't be back. I miss it, but it would hurt me more to tolerate something I am morally against.
                                                    And yes, I am morally against price gauging on pizzas!

                                                    1. re: weewah

                                                      Now, I have NEVER done so commercially, so there are major differences, but my wife and I like different ingredients. I construct my pizza for the two of us. In general terms, it's a .333 wife and .666 me. Not an issue, but we are talking ONE pie only. and a few ingredients might make their way across the cuts - also done by me.

                                                      If I were the pizza chef at PaPa John's, I might feel otherwise, but for better than that, I just do not see the issue. In hopes of selling two smalls, I would think that one medium, or large, that satisfies my clients would be better, but again - I am not in that business, so I must be missing something. I just do not need a "pizza-Nazi" telling me what I can, and cannot have. Life is too short.

                                                      Hunt

                                                      1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                        In the above mentioned case (half vegaholic, half buffalo chicken) I see major ingredient differences: different sauces, already cooked meat (so if there even is cheese on the buffalo chicken part, it just would have to melt and/or meat heat through and pizza is done) versus a lot of raw vegetables (vegaholic...)which would take longer to be cooked on the other side.

                                                        At home, if I toss cooked sausage on my husband's side and then cheese on the whole thing, the pizza is finished cooking, sauce is the same and no big deal.

                                                        1. re: Cathy

                                                          Cathy,

                                                          You could have a point, but the answer was not, "we cannot do a half-vegiholic and half-Buffalo chicken," but "we do not do half-n-half." While this does not 100% remove the differences in toppings, that seems to not have been mentioned by the establishment.

                                                          Now, I would anticipate that "Buffalo-chicken," would have been at least partially prepared, due to the sauce, and that they would not be doing raw chicken and cooking it with the pizza, but could be wrong.

                                                          In my instances, the halves have been a bit closer together, but have done B'BQ chicken and more vegetable-oriented for the other half. The B'BQ chicken was prepared to about 90% before being added, and all came out fine.

                                                          I could be very wrong, but it seems that the changed intent was to sell two smaller pies vs one larger half-n-half. Still, I cannot get into the mind of the owner, or the chef, so I will likely never know.

                                                          Hunt

                                                  2. I would be annoyed. Was just reading another thread on this board : Service vs Food - can one fix the other?
                                                    and it seems to me that some of the same attitudes that small business owners can have apply here also. I guess the economy is recovering if they can afford to treat a regular customer this way. One thing though, you say you usually get lunch there, and when you called it was at night alyseb? Perhaps the day workers are nicer and have a better attitude? It could be a case of the right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing. Maybe it was just one lazy night shift employee being a jerk. I would check back at lunchtime and maybe even mention your unhappiness with the abrupt policy change if you feel comfortable doing so. Let us know if you were able to work things out.

                                                    1. Boy the responses to this one are all over the map.

                                                      I think I'd talk to the manager or owner -- point out the amount of business I bring in and how this is a sudden (and I'm gathering unannounced) policy change. I've had luck in similar situations both food and non food.

                                                      My son just went to a customer service training session for his summer job; he's a lifeguard, but the park requires this of all workers at all levels. One of the presenters told the story of the pickle, about a guy who'd eaten at this deli for years and always asked for two pickles. They always gave him a second one gratis. Until a new management type said, "No, charge him."

                                                      And that hurt a long-time customer. This place of yours apparently never learned the lesson: "Give him the pickle."

                                                      1. Of course it's the restaurant's prerogative to prepare their pizzas any way they want to. However, in refusing to do a popular thing they are violating Rule Number One of customer service: "The customer may not always be right, but he IS always the customer." Mrs. O adores anchovies and must have them on her pizza always, but she loathes any kind of sweet pepper. Many people we often eat with feel exactly the opposite. There is no way in hell we would ever patronize a pizza parlor that refused to split the toppings, but then we've found none like that anywhere. We DO know a couple that don't offer anchovies at all, which I think ought to be illegal, but they're easily avoided...

                                                        1. I don't think I've ever been to a pizza place that didn't make 1/2 & 1/2. However, my favorite place chooses to charge me for two full toppings instead of 1/2 of 1 and 1/2 of the other (for instance 1/2 pepperoni 1/2 mushroom). I pay it cheerfully, since their pizza is really good. I always feel slightly ripped off though, since other places charge 1/2 of each topping.