Opinion: The Day After Free Pizza Day

Free pizza day was bigger than expected and ended earlier than anticipated. Read our thoughts on the event.

Rick Santos' restaurant, , is far from a big-time corporate business. Santos recently moved to Skokie from Brooklyn to open his first pizza shop at 4010 Main St. just a few weeks ago. 

He's a small business owner trying to make it in a brand new environment.

My encounter with Santos came after a reader tweeted me saying I should check his pizza out. My of Skokie's newest pizza spot. To my surprise, Santos insisted we put a blurb in the story about giving every customer a free pizza slice. 

I thought, "Awesome." Here's a guy who just moved to Skokie and wants to give out free pizza to the community. There's no business oriented relationship between Patch and De Carlucci's and since he wanted to do something for the community I was more than happy to help.

, everything was squared away for Tuesday, July 24. To my surprise - and Santos' - free pizza day was much bigger than we both anticipated.

It was awesome to see the community get together all through a small article posted on Patch. When I saw Santos, he was running back and forth from his kitchen to the front counter to serve customers. Like many small businesses, his staff consists of family. In Santos' case, his brother and teenage daughter.

As time passed, word began to spread about free pizza day and Santos was soon overwhelmed; he was running low on canned pop and ingredients. When I asked him how many slices he'd served that day, he confidently said about 1,000.

One thousand jumbo slices of pizza.

A jumbo sized slice like the one Santos was serving typically goes for about $5 at most restaurants. Multiple that by 1,000. That's what Santos gave out to the community in a three hour span. If you ask me, that's pretty generous.

A few bad apples -

Some people came to the counter asking for five slices of pizza, citing the other four were for people at home (to whose order Santos fulfilled). Others posted comments on Skokie Patch telling Santos to go back to NY because they missed out on their free slice. Really?

There were also some other comments that are just too vulgar to print. I was shocked that some people would get this stirred up because they missed the deal. 

In a lot of ways, I felt like I was representing Skokie when getting to know Santos. And to be honest, I'm a little embarrassed by the actions of a select few.

Just to be clear - the vast majority of people that stopped by were great. Some sent me emails asking me to tell Santos "thank you." The people waiting in line when I stopped by seemed to be having a good time. And a lot of people that missed out were very understanding. To those of you who were, thank you for your decorum.

I'd like to apologize on behalf of Skokie Patch for those that missed out on yesterday's deal. We helped promote free pizza day and we're also responsible.

If it's any consolation,  with your contact information and I'll forward it to the owner for a possible voucher. 

As for Santos, he was all smiles when he touched base with me late last night. He was very grateful to those that showed up to try his product. He also reached out to some readers

"You can't please everybody," Santos said. "I'm just happy so many people showed up and tried out my pizza." 

Casey Faust July 25, 2012 at 12:59 PM
I personally witnessed a family abusing the one free slice and was angry. A few really took advantage of a wonderful opportunity. The pizza was REALLY good. We actually bought one to take home! Good luck Mr. Santos!
Sarah July 25, 2012 at 03:06 PM
I am not surprised that people were rude, it happens all the time when its free. I wanted to say I think Rick was wonderful to give a customer extra pizza for the people back home. My husband and son were the only ones who went out of our family of seven and we didn't ask for 5 more, my thoughts are you can walk and get it yourself. The pizza was really good (i got a taste) and crispy. We will be ordering pizza there from now on. My concern however is in your article asking people to email you for a possible voucher. Why??
Pizza Fan July 25, 2012 at 05:20 PM
People are completely missing the point. It isn't about a few bucks for a free piece of pizza, if that were all it was then it would be a small person to complain. It is about the principle. As a new customer when you have a bad experience with any business, you usually don't return. This was a 6 hour promotion cut short to just over 2 hours and when you take time out of your day to get there less than 3 hours into a promotion and see a hastily written sign, with no apology, no explanation, no person standing out front explaining what happened, no employee to be seen anywhere, it leaves a bad impression, there is no denying this. It sounds like people were greedy and I'm sorry that they gave more than one piece per person and I understand that it got out of control. But when you are promised something and it isn't there and there is nobody to explain why, a customer is going to be upset. It's totally about the principle and how I felt mislead as a potential customer, not about a few bucks for a piece of pizza. Unfortunately it was mishandled. I wish them well and I'm sure if the pizza is as good as people say, it will be a big gain for them, but in my case I have no intention of returning just as most customers who feel mistreated in any business would do the same.
J Sensible July 25, 2012 at 05:52 PM
I stopped in around 5:30 knowing that the promotion was over and was pleasantly surprised that I was still offered a free slice. Great pizza, not too salty and crispy. To the debbie downers out there, give the guy a break! Support your community businesses! Their heart was in the right place and I for one will be back. @Pizza Fan, I understand that maybe the customer service was not up to your standards on this one day, but doesn't everyone deserve a second chance? I would rather support the businesses in our community rather than having a space stand empty looking like a blight on the community.
Janice Cha July 25, 2012 at 06:01 PM
I'd like to say a huge THANK YOU to Carlucci's owner Rick Santos for having the guts to run a 'free slice' promotion. I found your pizza to be exceptionally tasty and will definitely be back for more. What a great way to put a new business on the map. Wishing you much success. :-)
michael b July 25, 2012 at 06:13 PM
They are a small "mom and pop" business who were overwhelmed with the response. The are not a national franchise with unlimited product. What is so hard to understand?! For any to feel so entitled and feel mistreated as a new customer is ridiculous! I came at around 6:00ish and they were many people waiting in line patiently and they were still chugging out slices as best they could with the small staff they had. Everyone there seemed appreciative and were very patient. For the select few of you who feel the need to complain and request extra slices for the rest of your family and friends who could not come out to support the new business, I'm sure Carlucci and family won't miss your business.
Alicia Singer July 25, 2012 at 06:21 PM
Pizza Fan, I'm sure that they had no intentions of "mislead[ing]...mishandl[ing]...mistreat[ing]" or in any other way wronging ANYONE. It does not benefit any business to turn down potential customers. If you wouldn't have tried their pizza any other day, then you're really not a "potential customer." If you're actually interested in trying their pizza, pretend that they had said "free pizza WHILE SUPPLIES LAST," and go buy a slice. It's totally NOT "about the principle"; it's about you feeling wronged because you're actually going to have to pay for a slice of pizza. De Carlucci's tried to do something that very few businesses do: give customers a generous amount of their product for free. I worked at Di Caputo's, and cashiered at/managed/ran (didn't own) Luigi's, the two pizza places that inhabited 4010 Main St. before De Carlucci's. At Luigi's, when we made our own sauce, it could take a couple of hours on a slow night. Imagine how long it would have taken Mr. Santos, his brother, and his daughter to make their homemade sauce with a line of people LITERALLY out the door. You probably don't know how much cheese and sauce goes on to one of those pizzas, or how many of those pizzas can be made from one bag of cheese. They had no way of predicting how many people would show up, and probably should have said "while supplies last," but they GAVE AWAY $5,000 worth of food. They didn't have to do that. What more do you want?
Anna July 25, 2012 at 06:57 PM
We went, enjoyed our free slices (one large slice for each of us). The people we saw waited patiently in line and seemed to be good natured and enjoying themselves. Thank you, Mr Santos.
Earl Weiss July 25, 2012 at 07:30 PM
Went there today and bought a slice. Commented that it was slower today than yesterday. They asked if i got a free slice the day before and I said no, They said I should have told them and they would have given me a free slice. I said thanks but that was OK. He said he still owes me one. Good businessman. To all who asked for freebies for people who were not there... You are nimrods.
Gordon July 25, 2012 at 09:29 PM
I know how awful people can be, having been in the customer related business. I hope they are very successful. There heart is in the right place.
Pizza Fan July 25, 2012 at 10:50 PM
Lots of GREAT comments today, it was a very good discussion. I'm so glad to see that they have a strong support base. Best wishes to all.
xcinx July 26, 2012 at 03:41 PM
I couldn't have said it better!!
Gregg Baker July 26, 2012 at 04:47 PM
I think it is great that you are not going back to the pizza place. It is your loss, not theirs! Their promotional event went better than expected. And you can't forgive them for that? As you so eloquently stated, "That would be small.
Gregg Baker July 26, 2012 at 04:51 PM
I didn't get a piece of the free pizza. But I had been in there before and already had tasted it. It is very good pizza. I will be back time and time again to get theirs. I wish these guys a lot of success. I think their hearts are in the right place. When their business savvy is as good as their pizza they will be as large as Malnatti's.
skokie 2 July 26, 2012 at 06:08 PM
Wow, this is the editorial we can expect?
James Iverson July 26, 2012 at 10:37 PM
I was there at 6pm, and they were handing out free pizza to a line of people out the door, but I am hearing people say that this promotion ended early. Did they stop the promotion temporarily while they got more supplies?
James Iverson July 26, 2012 at 10:42 PM
By the way, in about 10 minutes I watched them hand out about four free pizzas, even while they provided several others for pickup customers. Like many of the commentors, I was really impressed by the Santos family. Even while they were working like crazy, they were really pleasant. Then I ordered a pizza to take home, and they gave me two!
Chela Huss July 27, 2012 at 06:37 PM
George, Please thank Mr. Santos for opening a pizzeria in Skokie. Evan though I did not try his pizza, I am sure I will stop by to try it, Chela Huss
De'carluccis restaurant July 28, 2012 at 04:04 PM
yes they did, and we apologize for that.
De'carluccis restaurant July 28, 2012 at 04:05 PM
Your very welcome, and also Thank You.
Michael July 30, 2012 at 02:22 PM
I applaud the owners for being so generous in having a free slice promo. I feel that it perhaps should have been stated as starting at 11am and going 'while supplies last' instead of simply an indicated time span. Also that it should have been clearly stated as one free slice per person, and that policy strictly followed. Any who would then balk at those reasonable and clearly stated policies may not be the type of customer one would want anyway. On the free slice day I stopped by there at about 3:15pm and saw the sign by the door indicating that there were no more free slices. Sure, it was a bit disappointing since I'd read that the promotion was supposed to be going on until later, but I simply figured it was a 'while supplies last' sort of situation and that the response was greater than expected. My wife is allergic to wheat and dairy so we never get pizza (and we very rarely dine out at all as it's just too expensive) so a free pizza slice would have simply been a treat for me. Not a big deal to miss out on something I wouldn't have normally had anyway. With regard to the statements about the owners having given away $5000 worth of product, the article says, "A jumbo sized slice like the one Santos was serving typically goes for about $5 at most restaurants." How much such a slice would cost at 'most restaurants' is somewhat irrelevant; why not just say what De Carluccis charges for the same size slice.


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