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Madison’s Ian’s Pizza Makes The New York Times…3 Tons Of Flour Used In One Week!

February 26, 2011
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Congratulations to Ians Pizza for making a difference for those who protested at the State Capitol, and for making a splash in The New York Times!

Someday the ruckus here might be remembered as the Pizza-Powered People’s Uprising.

Every day for the past week, the two Ian’s Pizza shops in town have fed the hungry masses, delivering hundreds of free pies to the Capitol. The owners of Ian’s boasted that supporters from all 50 states — as well as Bosnia, China, Egypt, France and 20 other countries — had donated thousands of dollars each day so they could give protesters the calories they needed to keep going.

On Wednesday alone, nearly 800 Ian’s pizzas were delivered to the Capitol, often 30 at a time, with police officers and legislative aides, Republican and Democrat alike, also partaking.

Underneath the Capitol’s majestic dome, as drummers drummed, demonstrators drew posters and some protesters did yoga, dozens of people swarmed toward Paul Sarnwick, an Ian’s deliveryman, as he opened a stack of boxes containing pizzas like spicy chicken taco, lasagna and buffalo chicken with blue cheese.

“Whoever thought a deliveryman would be in the middle of something like this?” said Mr. Sarnwick, lanky, unshaven and 26. “People have been saying, ‘Thanks for feeding us. If it weren’t for you, we wouldn’t be able to stay here and rally.’ ”

Scott Van Eggeren, a pizza lover who opposes Gov. Scott Walker’s push to curb collective bargaining rights, hailed Ian’s contribution to the cause.

“It’s awesome,” said Mr. Van Eggeren, a water analyst in the State Department of Natural Resources, having just downed a macaroni and cheese slice. “And the pizza is just great.”

Even as the governor and legislators go about their business inside the Capitol, its rotunda has turned into a pro-labor carnival, with folk singing, a children’s play area and more than 100 sleeping bags lining the balconies along the third and fourth floors. Taped to the walls were dozens of signs, including, “United We Bargain, Divided We Beg.”

A week ago Tuesday, the shop delivered 60 free slices to the Capitol and a blogger soon sang Ian’s praises. Next, the owners said, a protest supporter in California called to say, “Can I order two pizzas to send up to the Capitol?”

Word spread on Facebook and Twitter, and soon Ian’s pizzas went viral. Some days Ian’s has cut off donations at $25,000 because that is the maximum value of pies it can produce.

Steve Marmel, a University of Wisconsin graduate who is a television producer in Hollywood, was one of several supporters who donated $500. “On Facebook I saw that someone from Egypt sent pizzas,” he said. “I thought that was cool, and I wanted to do something to help.”

The shop has had to increase its daily staff to 19, from its normal eight. “We usually go through one ton of flour a week,” Nick Martin, one of the shop’s owners, said. “This week we did three tons.”

One Comment leave one →
  1. Susan permalink
    February 27, 2011 3:26 PM

    Dear dekerivers:

    I love the interest piece about Ian’s Pizza – but I think the NYTimes missed a key ingredient as to WHY the public has chosen Ian’s Pizza to support the protestors.

    Ian’s is doing for its employees what our states are refusing to do for theirs: taking care of them in the form of healthcare and 401k contributions and a path to ownership. Ian Gurfield is a visionary who cares about his workers, his community and his pie. One slice at a time he sells high quality food and builds the American Dream for his employees, one restaurant at a time.

    An excerpt from their website:

    “The first Ian’s Pizza by the Slice was opened by Ian (really, there is an Ian) on October 31, 2001 in Madison, Wisconsin on Frances Street (very near the University of Wisconsin, Madison).

    We now are comprised of four restaurants: two in Madison, one in Milwaukee, one in Chicago. Between all four, we employ about 100 people, many of them students.

    All of our full-time employees get 100% paid health care, and 401k benefits at the two biggest stores, with match.

    The only way we will grow our “franchise” is from within. If you demonstrate the skill and have the drive, you can work toward an ownership path. If you come in with a bucket full of cash, you’re out of luck (although you can buy a lot of pizza, along with some delicious salads and spectacular brownies). Our first spin-off store was the Ian’s Pizza on State, now owned by a former part-time delivery driver UW Art Major. ”

    Sincerely,
    Susan Detering

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