It was around two years ago when David Haynes strode into work with UberEats on his mind. The business of kind strangers delivering food to our doorsteps was surging, much like it continues to do now, and the Stonedeck Pizza Pub owner had a need for speed. Pizza, it turns out, isn’t fast enough to engorge the pupils of the customers looking for an immediate cheese-on-bread fix. He had to find another way into our bloodstreams.
It was before UberEats increased the size of the pie slice they take from orders.
“They’ve jacked their percentage up so high,” Haynes says. “Most of us are like, we want to quit Uber, but we can’t. It’s like this third-party delivery heroin. We know it’s not great, but we have to be there.”
Haynes added two with two: Cold weather plus good bar equals the joy of macaroni and cheese, so he called UberEats to pose a scenario. What if he ran a hidden, alternate-ego restaurant, virtually, that sold mac and cheese as a centerpiece? Central Mac, a hidden mac and cheese pop-up within his own pizza joint, found its way into life.
A couple of years later, Haynes passes around a flier. It’s an announcement of an “avalanche of mac and cheese” in the same font that has been known to promise monster trucks on “Sunday, Sunday, Sunday!” He’s calling the event the Deep Ellum Mac-N-Cheese Crawl, and he’s got some friends on board: Brick & Bones, BrainDead Brewing, AllGood Cafe and Mama Tried have promised to display mac and cheese on their house banners.
“A cheesy neighborhood-wide extravaganza,” the flier reads, with some “pows” in comic font. The crawl runs Dec. 11-14.
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But it’s not really a crawl. It’s not a Fyre Festival for mac and cheese, either: It’s a come-eat-some-mac-and-cheese-then-walk-and-eat-more-mac-and-cheese thing. It’s a “showcase.” Haynes will offer macaroni and cheese specials — he’s promised a pizza crowned with chili-infused macaroni and cheese — and his friends will likely do the same.
“I think it might be fun to, once a quarter, once every couple of months, find something to showcase,” he says. “Try to bring people down, and remind them Deep Ellum’s still down here. Get out of your house, you know what I mean? Stop ordering UberEats. Come down. Enjoy what we’ve put our blood, sweat and tears into.”
In other words, it’s about getting some air, and maybe some Velveeta, in our lungs. It’s hard to argue with the idea: Walk around, meet a chef or two, and dunk a fork in a cauldron of cheddar. That’s where the “extravaganza” ends — as though we needed much more of a push to marathon-eat mac and cheese.
Stonedeck Pizza Pub, 2613 Elm St. (Deep Ellum)