So my wife wife and I thought we’d try a NY Pizza place out in Prarieville, LA that had raving reviews on Urbanspoon. We happened to be in Baton Rouge late one Friday night, and I thought perhaps it’d be a sit-down restaurant we could sneak into, before they closed, without bothering anyone.
Well, rather than finding a large establishment with a waitstaff, we found the owner himself sitting alone watching a baseball game with the chairs up and the lights off. Instead of being able skirt our rudeness by anonymously sneaking in, I had to face it, if only in the form of a sheepish inquiry as to whether or not it was too close to closing to bother him for a pizza. To my relief, we were welcomed without the slightest hint we were either presumptuous or imposing.
When we thanked him, he said that anytime anyone wants a pizza, he’ll make them one, whether it’s three a.m. after he’s cleaned up or nine in the morning before he opens. It is what he knows, and it’s what he does. He confessed his philosophy was that of the former Starbucks CEO saying, “I’m not in the pizza business serving people, I’m in the people business serving pizza.” I was humbled.
After living in Brooklyn for the majority of his life, he’d come to Baton Rouge seeking warmer weather to better cope with arthritis. I imagined the menu’s claim to have the best NY pizza in the south, stood a good chance at proving true.
As my wife went to the restroom, I watched Omar at work while trying to seem like I was watching the game. He pulled the pizza from the oven so naturally and with such care, he might as well have been a mother with a newborn [granted the analogy surely has its limits]. After slicing it with a pizza cutter, he took a pair of kitchen shears and carefully cut the crust at each slice where the slicer didn’t reach because of the pan.
Such attention to detail seems rare. Few might overtly notice the difference, but when it’s the symptom of an approach to life and work, it is that attention that makes for quality and makes Omar a master in the people business.
Omar is an amazing person and I am fortunate to have met. He made us feel special and said he hoped we’d come back before we moved. Before leaving the parking lot, we were already anxious to return. We did, a week before we left, and Omar obliged my request to take his picture. I’m a little ashamed to say that it’s a picture I’m a little too proud to own. Thanks for the pizza, the garlic knots, and sharing your flow. We wish you the best.