My old pal and collegiate colleague at The Daily Texan, Katy, Texas' own Rob Walker, yesterday devoted his Consumed column in The New York Times Magazine to Pizza Patr�n. After the breathless debate a few weeks back concerning the locally based chain's decision to accept pesos from its customers, Rob wades in to offer a little perspective, including an interview with Antonio Swad, Pizza Patr�n's founder, who opened the first location in Pleasant Grove in 1986. (Really, ya never see the Grove mentioned often enough in The New York Times.)
Swad, who came up with the corporate mascot (el Patr�n) who looks a lot like Kinky Friedman, tells Rob he figured the "peso gimmick" would get a little local press, but never did he imagine it would raise such a ruckus. Nonetheless, Rob also interviews Mary Boltz Chapman, editor in chief of trade mag Chain Leader, who says the peso promotion was, ya know, kind of genius. As Rob writes, "People who are upset about it would never have patronized the place anyway, she points out, but the customer base will get the message that matters most: 'This pizza is for me.'"
But the point of the piece is that the pizza at Pizza Patr�n is, well, for everyone, which only made the stink over the peso promotion all the more distasteful. As Rob points out: "Swad changed almost everything except his actual pizza. After all, his customers' favorite topping is pepperoni. Just as it is for everybody else in America." In other words, we all eat the same crap, so why can't we all just get along? --Robert Wilonsky