More pizzas than Louie wants to count; Pike says thank you
“I'm not too good at saying no to people,” Louie Sciarrotta explained this week.
That might be an understatement.
What started as a one-time freebee for his son's Carver Elementary in the late '80s has ballooned into a full-blown donation program for the owner of the local Louie's Pizza chain. In the course of the current school year, he said he is giving away six pizzas and two 2-liter bottles of soft drinks once a month to 109 elementaries in the area (including all those on the Westside).
He doesn't even know how many pizzas that is. “You got a calculator?” he asked an interviewer, then laughed. “I don't know if I want to know.”
Pike Elementary staff and students decided to thank their taste-bud benefactor Jan. 17. At a special assembly, Sciarrotta and his wife Dawn received a plaque of appreciation, featuring a picture of the Pike student body that is now hanging in the chain's Fillmore Street restaurant.
“That was very sweet of them,” Sciarrotta said. Schools have honored Louie's before, but in a group with other generous businesses. “It was pretty special to do just us,” he added
“We were just showing appreciation to him,” said Pike Principal Manuel Ramsey, noting that the program was already going strong when he was hired five years ago. “We don't say thank you enough sometimes.”
For Pike, pizza is practically a learning tool. “We think kids learn better with pizza.” Ramsey said. “We use it for celebrations, for example, if a class has met its goal on math testing… They say you should have fun at school, and there's nothing more fun than a pizza party.”
The donations make such parties possible, he said.
That's one of the reasons the pizza entrepreneur has been inspired to keep his donations coming. “It gets kids motivated at schools like Pike that have no budget at all,” he said.
Sciarrotta, who had run pizzerias in Detroit before bringing his cooking style to the Springs in 1985, freely admitted that another part of his giveaway strategy is to introduce children to his product. But he also pointed out that (unlike school donations by some businesses) there are no strings attached. “When I went to the principals [in his early days], they didn't believe it at first,” he said. “They asked, 'What do we have to do?' Even though I told them it was free, it took awhile.”
And now he's up to 109 schools. But maybe, if Sciarrotta is reading this, he should skip the last line, because the calculation just came in for the number of pizzas he'll donate this year.
Westside Pioneer article