Friday, November 26, 2010

Voting and Pizza


This edition I decided to combine two very diverse topics and talk about my voting experience and also about pizza here in the Pepper.   Sounds like an odd match I know, but hang with me and let's work it out.  First things first.


I am sure that everyone knows that November 2nd was the day to vote in the United States.  However, not nearly everyone exercised that right and opportunity.  It is what makes us what we are as a country and allows peaceful transitions of power, but lots of people just ignore it.  Too bad.   However, I decided to go to the high school to cast my ballot fairly early in the day. I landed there about 9 am to find a nearly bare parking lot and only one candidate representative greeting people and doing some last minute campaigning.  He was wearing a number of "Cantor" stickers and so I thought that he would be perfect to exemplify the kind of person who dedicates their time to a particular candidate.  However, he was camera shy which disappointed me, but I trudged in and here is what I found.

I am always impressed by people who exercise civic duty and/or opportunity.  Almost everyone working at this poll was a volunteer and many had done it for several years.  The first two here were working their fourth straight year at this voting site.  They are Mary and Mac McPhillips.

The next thing I knew several people were standing in line waiting for the opportunity to cast their ballot.  Here is George Golden, a voter and Carolyn Davis who is the Chief Officer of the poll.  She has been doing this since 2003.

I know Duane Konold and when I saw him standing in line wounded I had to ask him about it and kid him a little.  So I asked about the crutches and foot boot.   He told me that he had hurt his foot teaching his son to jump rope.  I immediately suggested that he find a more macho explanation for his injury.  I proposed that he was injured teaching his son to sky dive or bungee jump.  He thought he would stick with the truth....good choice!

These two ladies have been providing their services to voters for a long time.  Freda Katochvil on the right has helped for twenty years and Shirley Price for ten years.  Thanks ladies!


As I prepared to leave I saw that the number of people who had come to vote had grown considerably.  That was good to see.


One day as I was driving down 29 I noticed three pizza places within the space of about 1/3 of a mile.   It made me think about all of the pizza outlets that exist in Culpeper.  There are quite a few.  It made me wonder why anyone would open one after the first few were in business.  It has to be the most, or certainly one of the most, competitive businesses around.  In addition to the places that actually specialize in pizza, there are lunch counters and fast food restaurants that have pizza on their menu.  Everyone agrees that there is lots of competition.   Interestingly in addition to a small number of national outlets, there are several that locally owned.  I asked each of them why a person would choose their product over the others.  Some mentioned that their pizzas were "homemade" while others mentioned the ingredients, service, delivery and prices.  Before I started this blog I had already eaten pizza from all the the places but one.  I quickly and happily corrected that.   Honestly, I thought this would be turned out to be a lot more interesting than I originally thought.  I will note that those who had the owner on the premises or a long time manager had an advantage in describing the business.  Let's see what we've got.


Ah, I have to start at Mamamai's (that is a lot of "m's" and "a's")  first.  When we first moved to the Pepper my son, whom I have noted many times lives here, suggested that we get a pizza from Mamamai's.  It was good advice although I had to work harder for this picture than all of the others combined.  It was hard for me to get to the restaurant when the owner was present.  Of course I expected a somewhat portly, sixtyish Italian woman.  What a surprise to meet thirty one year old Ayman Hanson who is the owner and who opened this establishment in 2003.  He is in the process of opening or expanding another restaurant in town.  Ayman is almost a life long resident and is the tall guy in the back.  The rest of his crew who were there that day are, Michelle Eaton, Mo the manager on the left and Issa who is the cook on the right. 


When I stopped at Domino's I found Heather Bauer, who is a CCHS grad, and Robert Bickers.  They were sure that the flavor of the pizza's and the quick delivery were what kept people coming back.


I stopped next at Mama' was very close.   It has been in business for ten years.  These guys were fun and chatted with me for a while.  They believe that the ingredients are what make their pizza's special.  We have Oscar Montesinos on the right who is the cook and who has been with Mama's for all ten years, and Roger Thompson who has worked there for five years.


Things got interesting at Papa John's.  If public relations is important in the pizza business.....and it is...then Papa John's has a leg up because of Dustin Jacobs who is the general manager. Dustin is all personality.  He is a guy who was born and raised in Culpeper and he knows the pizza business and its history here in the Pepper.  He demonstrated tossing a pizza which no doubt is a skill and explained that at his place nothing is frozen.  Working with him is a former Navy man Ed Rabideau on the right.  Dustin saw to it that I had a free pizza under my arm when I left.  Thanks again.


Just in case anyone notices that I left Pizza Hut out of this blog.....
it is because they have a corporate policy that does not allow pictures inside their restaurant.  


This is probably the newest of the pizza places in Culpeper.  It received publicity in the local newspaper when it opened because of the heartwarming story behind it.  This restaurant is dedicated to memory of Jeff Brown's father.  What a special tribute.  Jeff, of course is the owner.  I had a chance to chat with him just the other day.  Before he opened "Pop's," he was the manager of "Ruby Tuesdays" for four years.  He knew he was opening in a tough economic time, but says it has been worth the risk.  Nice guy.


Pete's has to be the oldest privately owned pizza restaurant in the Pepper.  Several people told me that I really needed to talk to Pete.  It was kind of saving the best character until the end.  What a cool guy.  His parents are Greek and immigrated to the United States in 1965.  He was drafted into the Greek army for two years just as he was preparing to come to the states.  He came in 1967.  He has been in this very restaurant for the last 35 years.  To say that he is a Culpeper legend is no exaggeration.  He introduced subs to the Culpeper area.  No one had them before he came.  He and his wife are delightful. He demonstrated his prowess at throwing a pizza.....amazing....cooked it up and sent it home with me.  It was HUGE!!!!!  Pete's last name is Katrakilis and his charming wife is Eleni.

All of this makes me hungry.  That's if for now.  If you would like a copy of one of the pictures  just let me know.  Also please send any suggests, comments or corrections to me at:

Be sure to watch for my feature, "Rich Crowley's Snapshot of Culpeper"  weekly in the Culpeper Times.

Happy Holidays!!!