Few Seattle food operations were better suited than Pagliacci to make the switch to exclusively takeout and delivery. And as Seattle settles into an indeterminately long stretch of staying home, the city’s 40-year pizza stalwart has quietly begun a program that helps its fellow food businesses—and gives the rest of us free cookies.
When dining rooms across the state shuttered in mid-March to stem the spread of coronavirus, Pagliacci’s lunch and catering business dried up instantly, says Michelle Galvin, who co-owns the business with her husband Matt. While sales are down overall, society’s deep-seated need for pizza in the face of uncertainty keeps Pagliacci busy, and it already had the infrastructure in place to support our current reality of online ordering and no-contact delivery. The Galvins wanted to spread that support to other local businesses.
On March 21, they ordered thousands of chocolate chip cookies from Macrina (the two companies are pretty tight) and gave them away to everyone who ordered pizza that night, roughly 3,000 customers. Since then, Pagliacci has done a giveaway every couple days—from pints of Gelatiamo to loaves of Macrina buttermilk oatmeal bread to a pound of fresh strawberries from Charlie’s produce. These large-scale purchases come in a moment of universally deflated sales.
The company plans to do this “as long as we’re in this quarantine situation” says Michelle Galvin. On Saturday, Pagliacci will give out cookies from Hello Robin, and gifts from Caffe Umbria, Fran’s Chocolates, and Rachel’s Ginger Beer are also on the horizon. While specific giveaway days will vary, Pagliacci will post details on social media.
I have to think the prospect of free cookies and beverages can only help Pagliacci’s order volume, making it my favorite COVID-19 restaurant survival tactic yet.