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November 19, 2011

Going to Pinky's? Prepare to Wait and wait. Popularity has its price

I had started to make eggplant parmegan Friday night for dinner, but about 5 p.m., I was hit with a strange fatigue.  Weary. I couldn't go through with it. Don't know. Maybe it was because it was raining out, and I just wanted to curl up in bed and drink hot apple cider. Maybe the fatigue was a  residual effect of my "delicate" heart condition? Sure, I'll use my "heart condition" as an excuse for being lazy and not making dinner last night.

Just as I relented to the idea of not finishing dinner, I thought: Pinky's!

The beloved Walnut Creek pizza restaurant, the revered institution that was forced to close the doors on its South California Boulevard shop in 2008, had reopened last week. Owner Tom Beisheim was giving in to the great demand of current and former Walnut Creek residents who had felt lost without having a Pinky's Pizza in town.

The new Pinky's is  in a new and more spacious and attractive location, in a space across town and across from the main post office on North Brodway.

We decided to do order a pizza for pick up: Two pizzas actually, a combination for me, my husband and my mom; and a medium cheese for my son and his friend.

My husband called about five after five. We were at the restaurant at 5:30 p.m., and we ended up waiting an hour to get out order filled.

My, oh my. This long wait time is in some ways is a testament to Pinky's new extraordinary popularity. After all, thousands of friends on the Pinky's Pizza Facebook page were urging its return. In the restaurant Friday, there were families there, hoping to grab a quick dinner before going off to high school sports games. There were guys and couples sitting at the bar, nursing beers, watching games and waiting for pizza. There were families who had come with the same idea as us. Mom didn't feel like cooking and said: "Let's go out for pizza. And Pinky's is open!!!"

In one case of a guy I talked to, who was also waiting in the long pickup line,  his wife had sent him to pick up the order, but then he didn't return home 15 minutes later. He was still gone an hour later. This guy said: "My wife's going to be pissed, thinking I went off to drink with my friends. Well I had a few drinks here while waiting."

Another family approached the counter staff, after waiting an hour, saying they needed to get to a Las Lomas High game. "If it was going to be this long, I wish you had told us." Oh, and someone in their party was diabetic and needed to eat something soon. The harried front-of-the-house guy said he would check on their order and requested someone make up a quick cheese bread sandwich for their guests.

Pinky's is a week old, and needs to work out some kinks in terms of service. I'm sure Tom Beisheim realizes that. I didn't get a chance to talk to him. He was behind the counter, furiously spreading sauce and ingredients over each pizza that was going to go into the oven.  He was working at it non-stop. I thought it's great that Tom wants to be so hands-on and make each pie himself. But maybe if he's getting crowds like this, he might want to find someone who can prep the pizzas with him, so that more pizzas are getting into the oven to be baked and fewer customers are getting impatient.

So, I waited for a an hour. I love Pinky's and want to be supportive, At the same time, I'm not a very patient person, and generally think there is nothing in the world that to me is worth this kind of wait: Not dinner at French Laundry, not Pinky's Pizza.

I've never been the type of person who waits in long lines for things: concert tickets; a hot new phone or other electronic device, to get into some trendy breakfast joint, for the new big blockbuster movie on opening night. I am not a "fan" in this way, someone who revels in the sense of community you get hanging out and waiting with other fans

I just want what I ordered, so I could get back home and enjoy it.
  i
So, I'm willing to disregard the ridiculous wait at Pinky's Friday night, see it as new business trying to deal with its overwhelming and perhaps unexpected popularity. I can also recognize it as a business with some new staff who are perhaps not trained as well as they could in managing the flow of customers and of food.

I'm sure the last thing Tom would want is to turn people off. And, alas, there were a few customers who were tempted to cancel their orders after waiting an hour and a half.  If nothing else, if there will still be long waits, including for people who phone in orders, the staff should give fair warning. They could say, "Hey, we're really swamped, and the restaurant just opened, so realistically, it could take us two hours."

So, as Pinky's works these issues out, I would suggest that people perhaps choose to go to Pinky's on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday night. In any case, expect a wait. The pizza is still delicious, and I'm happy Pinky's is such a smash hit. Clearly, a lot of people in town are likewise happy Pinky's is back.

Cheers.



33 comments:

Old Fart said...

I'll wait

Old Fart said...

I mean I'll wait until they fix the problems . .

Martha Ross, AKA Soccer Mom said...

I'm afraid I'm going to wait until they work out this issue. I know that the restaurant just opened, and it's been overwhelmed by the love and appreciation for being open again. Pinky's fans will be loyal. I'll go back. But I am not going to wait in line for an hour if I go in and pick up my pizza. Tom's smart and he's good at business. He'll figure it out.

Castle Hill Bill said...

SM- As I'm sure you know, it's not Tom's business anymore. He is the familiar face of Pinky's ,aka 'front man' but he sold off the Pinky name and pizza recipes to Dan Lilly. Dan's the man now and he needs to take your advice and let people know how long the wait for a pizza will be and to get the kitchen straightened out before he starts disappointing returning customers. He also needs to put in a couple of more TVs. There are too many spots in the store that are 'dead zones'. Nobody should have to contort their head to watch a game on TV while wolfing down a 'Kyle' and quaffing a brew. Speaking of brew- There are no darker ales or true micro brews available at the way too small bar. At least increase the selection of bottled beers since the refer is too small to add any more kegs for taps.
I'm glad Mr. Lilly has revived the Pinky brand, however he needs to get out in the dining room and get to know the community instead standing behind the counter. He also needs to make these changes before the honeymoon is over and people start to think twice about crossing YVR for a pizza. You have no foot traffic Dan, you need give something to drive there for ie. a community meeting place that serves good pizza, has a good beer selection, and has plenty of TVs to watch sports. Also the place needs to be kid and parent friendly. How many glasses of soda and how many slices of pizza have already landed on the floor good side down? Get rid of that carpet before it starts to get black and cruddy and sticking to our feet. We want you to be successful, take the advice.

Anonymous said...

well if Dan Lilly is the same Dan Lilly/Bob Lilly family who has had other businesses in WC area, then, imo, there is a learning curve in putting what customers want first.

Just probably a lack of understanding that a little investment on that side goes a long, long way but it could be money: not sure how well capitalized the thing is either; may not have the reserves to invest on that level.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, the waits have been horrible, and people have gotten very upset. It's clear the customer does not come first. Nostalgia is one thing, service is another. At some point people will start to not come in and then where will they be? Good pizza + terrible service = lost business. Sorry Pinky's, love will not pay the bills.

Roger Colton said...

Love the photo. That's me standing there in the coat and hat waiting to place my order (a small pepperoni, sausage, mushroom and extra cheese - along with a salad with Blue Cheese dressing).

As to the wait, Tom and Dan are victims of their own popularity. People missed Pinky's and the pizza. Missed it a whole lot. And once the word got out that the place was going to reopen, many of those former customers came back.

Pinky's is making more pizzas now than ever before. Tom isn't slowing down in the kitchen. He's busier than ever. On opening day, Friday 11/11, he made pizzas from 11 am to 9 pm. By the end of the day - without any phone orders - they had sold over 300 pizzas. They sold so much beer, they had to go to BevMo for more kegs.

Dan, Donna and Tom all know they need to take stock of things and be better. Especially in letting people know how long it will take for that pizza. If you were a customer before, maybe you remember that the old location had it's nights when an hour for a pizza wasn't out of the ordinary. But you knew that when you ordered it. If that was too long, you passed on pizza that night.

I think we'll see some adjustments soon. But as popular as Pinky's is folks who want a pizza from there better expect long waits for a while.

All this with no formal advertising either. The power of social media.

For the record, I am not an employee of Pinky's Pizza nor an investor. Just a loyal customer who is glad to be able to enjoy it once again.

Anonymous said...

Ahh..., the classic smug apologist. If the best portion of your life has been memories of a pizza parlor, then you are indeed pathetic. Oddly amusing...

Anonymous said...

Actually, Anonymous from 22NOV 2:59 timestamp, I did not find the "apologist" to be at all smug. You, OTOH were mean-spirited and insulting to call someone pathetic with so very little provocation. Easy to do when you are anonymous, I suppose.

Anonymous said...

I have ordered pizza twice at Pinky's. I was there on opening night and was quoted an hour and a half and received my pizza in an hour and a half +/- a few minutes. I was told that the wait earlier was two hours or more. Everyone who ordered a pizza was given a time estimate. The second time was take out. Quoted an hour and ready in an hour. Both times were Friday nights. You can only cook so many pizzas at one time. Having someone help Tom prep Pizzas won't help if there is no room in the oven. Buying another oven because of the overwhelming patronage at grand opening would be silly.

When the Harry Potter ride opened in Orlando, did visitors expect a 45 minute wait? I think not . . . .

Pasto said...

If you go to a restaurant in the first month of opening and expect everything to run smoothly, then you're just crazy! And on a Friday night at 5:30 none the less..If you can't wait or are impatient or won't tolerate imperfection then find a fast food drive thru! People amaze me, unbelievable actually... I'm glad I waited 2 hours PATIENTLY for my pizza on opening weekend! Keep up the good work Tom and Dan!!

Anonymous said...

So the pizza is great (which I agree at this time), the service is poor, the waits are unreasonably long. Add to that, it's not a walk-up-to sort of restaurant and located way across town away from downtown and Las Lomas (primary target customers). Listen, the problems better be addressed soon or your little Facebook fan club will be all that's left patronizing the business. Guess how long that will last financially for the owners? When the nostalgia wears off and the crowds thin down, then what? You're left with a restaurant that's not location friendly nor a walk-up-to sort of establishment. The customers come first and foremost. Fix it. It's a business, not memory lane. Fortunately the owners probably know this (hopefully). The old loyal patrons only care about their memories of their high school conquests (whatever that might be). Grow up.

Pasto said...

You guys still aren't getting it... All these people who are complaining about wait times obviously have never worked or opened a restaurant before in there lives!!! Like I said before, a restaurant needs time to work things out... If you go on opening weekend or with in the first month and expect things to go perfect the the first time YOU ARE ABSOLUTLY INSANE!!!!!!!!!!!! If you don't understand that, then your not worthy of being a customer of Pinkey's or any new restaurant anyway!! Good luck to all you doubters.. Go find pizza somewhere else!

Anonymous said...

"Worthy of being a Pinky's customer"..., wow... Do you hear yourselves? You're a little cult with bad location and followers whose best life memories were in a pizza parlor! Unbelievably lame! What's your most memorable high school memory? Teepeeing the little retarded boy's house? WOW!!!

Anonymous said...

Hmmm..., I thought the point to to WIN OVER old and new customers so that the business can thrive long term? I didn't realize that customers needed to be anointed as such by the Pinky's mystique... I agree with blogger Martha/Soccer Mom. I also am not going to wait in line for an hour if I call in to pick up my pizza order. The suggestion of sitting around and talking with patrons for an hour-plus while waiting isn't my idea of service and isn't a reasonable solution and is borderline ridiculous. At best, a dismissive response to a real problem.

Anonymous said...

I was there this week with some buddies. I do echo the feelings posted on here as well. Pizza was pretty good (great? not so sure of that as I have had pizza all over the country). Service was slow and inattentive. If you are in the "in-crowd" you'll get better service and they'll waste time with useless banter with the "regulars". When I went up to ask about my pizza one hour later, they forgot about my order. That added another 30 minutes as they scrambled to get my order in. Total wait and eating time? 2 1/4 hours, when we wanted to be in and out of there in 1 hour or so (we wanted to get to a movie). Then they had cash register issues. Needless to say, we had to cancel the movie plans just waiting for our meal. If this keeps up, business will dwindle except for the die-hards. Then where will they be? It's not a walk-up restaurant! I probably won't be going there for a while. Maybe Restaurant: Impossible with Robert Irvine can help!

Anonymous said...

Wow! Some of you folks need to relax a bit. Popular restaurants have a wait, often times a very long one. If you like the food and the people, you'll go and wait for what you want. If you can't handle it, there are plenty of other places for you to get a quick meal. Take your dinner plans elsewhere. No need to come on here and whine like children that you didn't get your pizza pie fast enough. Pinky's has always been this way, at least for the close to forty years that I remember. I hear they'll shove you and your pizza out the door really quick at Round Table!! Have at it.

Anonymous said...

Oh, isn't that a great suggestion. Telling potential customers to love it or leave it, "go to Round Table"!!! Isn't that just great? Instead of confronting the problems and ADDRESSING THEM??? Let's lose customers! Sure that makes financial sense! It's a good thing you don't speak for the ownership (my assumption). I hope the owners don't follow the suggestions of the clearly wacko cult followers like you for their sake. They could take a few lessons from Rocco's pizza as well. Over-aged and overweight teenagers reliving their high school days, absolutely pathetic. IT'S A BUSINESS!!!!

Anonymous said...

LOL, sure it's a business. One that has always done well and will probably continue to do so. I'll say it again, it's PIZZA.....and....BEER. If you can't get the Round Table joke and took it as a serious suggestion, you might want to kindly put your uptight attitude aside and just be a grownup and deal with life a little bit. All people want to do is bitch and whine and complain these days. Toughen up, Nancy! Try having a pizza with your family down on South 23rd street in Richmond some time then come back and tell me again how terrible Pinky's is treating you.

Anonymous said...

LOL! Thanks Alice! You are absolutely right, it's just pizza. And you wackos make more about the supposed mystique than just your everyday customer. Hopefully the owners have more business sense than you middle aged teenagers. Sorry, won't be eating pizza in Richmond, and neither are you. Not interested in being gunned down by the natives.

Anonymous said...

How do you know I've never eaten pizza in Richmond. I hear gunshots and helicopters all the time, my friend. I was born and raised in Walnut Creek, but was never inclined to stay in the safety of the bubble. Gunned down by the natives? Typical. That's beside the point really though. Did I ever mention the mystique, high school glory days, or any of that other bullshit? No. My only complaint with you, and not just you but everybody whining is that there are so many more important things going on in this world than how long it took you to get precious pizza and people actually take the time to make a big deal about it? Time to take stock of what's important, and that's all I'm really trying to say.

Anonymous said...

What a moving soliloquy! There are more important things than this blog or your beloved pizza with your LL homies! I totally agree with you. So why do you need to keep writing to push a pathetic point? Too funny! Sorry, I'm not one of the funny detractors on the Facebook page. Just a customer with valid observations. The customer comes first. THAT'S THE POINT!!!

Anonymous said...

LOL, I keep writing to prove my pathetic point???? That's funny, you can't seem to resist either can ya? I know, I know...you gotta have the last word. That's cool. Go ahead and respond one more time to talk shit about me and I promise not to respond. You know want to. You can have the final say. After all, you use extremely intelligent sounding words, like soliloquy, so you are clearly deserving ;) Have a great Thanksgiving, hope you don't screw up the turkey and have to order pizza!!!!

Anonymous said...

LOL!!! I don't need the last word (but I guess I'll get it). nor do I use inappropriate language on Martha's blog. Enjoy your pizza and beer on Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, Easter, and Festivus! They'll unfortunately need to be open on those days to stay in business once the hype dies away. Maybe I'll see you in there buddy!!! ;-)

Anonymous said...

Martha- I think maybe you just hit an isolated incident. I have ordered three times since the openeing, once on openeing day, and twice phoning in orders. On all three occasions, the staff told me how long the wait would be (2 hours opening day, 90 second time, 60 minutes third time). In each case, my pizzas were done almost exactly at the time estimated. Tom doesn't need anyone else making pizzas- the oven can only hold so many at once- that is what takes time, not making them. But please, yes, don't go back...it will only make my wait shorter next time!

Anonymous said...

It's NOT isolated as some would have you believe, it's quite accurate. See post of November 23, 2011 1:20 PM. Personal experience as well.

"But please, yes, don't go back...it will only make my wait shorter next time!" Talk about an out of line comment. I'm sure the owners would never say something like that.

Anonymous said...

All this over a pizza? Very strange indeed.

Anonymous said...

It's been funny for the most part reading both sides (the supporters and the critics, mostly the defenders) on this blog and on the Pinky's Facebook page. In the final analysis it really is only pizza. Is it good? Sure, it's not bad (although there are several pizzerias close by that are quite outstanding as well, most of you know where they are). Is the service at Pinky's good or bad? Hmmm..., you need to go check for yourselves and form your own opinion. All these condescending and sarcastic comments are amusing to a point but probably need to cease. As I (and others) have mentioned, it's only pizza.

Would you get this worked up over the homeless who don't get enough to eat today on Thanksgiving? Or any other day for that matter? Or the families who live under the poverty line? So get a grip everybody. I for one, thank Martha for her review! It was a refreshingly honest one! Should we expect less? Peace.

Anonymous said...

You know what the Pinky’s Facebook site looks like, and the people who comment on that page? It just occurred to me the other day that it looks like a who’s who of the so-called “popular kids”, the pretty people from many different eras of Las Lomas High School (among a few other local schools). The ones who were in cheerleading, leadership, football, swimming, soccer, basketball, etc. The reopening of the restaurant is connected to reliving the most successful portions of their lives, their high school years. I grew up with many of these people but were not in their exclusive little circle. In fact, they probably wouldn’t remember me unless they had a yearbook in front of them. And maybe not even then. You don’t notice too many of the alumni who were in “the lesser activities” or non-athletes on that Facebook page. Pinky's is connected with being popular! Just an interesting observation on my part. Take it for whatever its worth... Enjoy the reopening of the restaurant.

Anonymous 12:07 said, "All this over a pizza? Very strange indeed."

I agree wholeheartedly...

Anonymous said...

I haven't been there since high school days and brings back some memories. I recall it being ok, but nothing that special to warrant this type of debate. It's simply one take on how pizza is made. You can say the same about Rocco's, Sorrento, California Pizza Kitchen, and Skipolini. Each has their fans and apparently easier customer access. Ok..., next topic? These posts are certainly amusing. Maybe I'll check out the pizza again soon.

Anonymous said...

I just went there last night with my family. Pizza was good, beer was flowing, atmosphere was fun. Wait wasn't bad. Was enjoyable! Like the old days! - Dave

Anonymous said...

Wasn't too bad. There wasn't really a wait when my girlfriend and I went in to try it. We had a medium combo, wasn't bad. But I do like Amici's in Danville a lot better. Fantastic pizza! Pinky's is more like a neighborhood hang, without the neighborhood (it's next to the WC Post Office and Toyota). You have to drive to it and cannot walk to it from downtown. Clientele is diverse (on the rude side by the bar). Oh well, I'm glad I tried it once.

Anonymous said...

Pizza is passable (hardly the best, it's all an urban myth perpetuated by middle aged teenagers reliving their youth), service is horrible. They couldn't care less if you were awkwardly standing there waiting for what passes as "service". Screw 'em.