November 19, 2011
Going to Pinky's? Prepare to Wait and wait. Popularity has its price
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.
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.
Posted by Martha Ross at 6:16 AM