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Pizzerias feel big-game pressure

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Posted: Monday, February 8, 2010 12:00 pm | Updated: 9:11 am, Thu Aug 16, 2012.

By Don Bolding

Killeen Daily Herald

Shortly after 4 p.m. Sunday, employees at pizza take-out restaurants who had been winding up for the kickoff all day were just starting to feel the growing gales of their busiest night of the year.

"Tell them we need a bigger oven," a worker in the kitchen at Domino's at 1606 S. Fort Hood St. shouted over her shoulder as pizzas prepared for baking began to stack up for their oh-so-slow journey through the oven that couldn't be rushed.

Domino's district manager Chris Herd said earlier that the Fort Hood Street store is the chain's busiest in Killeen. Manager Kevin Merritt and a half-dozen employees were starting a high-speed ballet with raw crusts and rapidly sprinkled toppings that they did not expect to slow down until halftime.

Most pizza restaurant managers say that Super Bowl Sunday is their busiest day of the year. At Pizza Patron on Central Texas Expressway, Jorge Soto said the staff had been taking orders all day and started to fill them about 3 p.m.

"I was here last year, and we did about 30 percent more business than on an ordinary Sunday. We'll probably be our busiest from about 6 to 7 p.m. The rush will start about 5 p.m. We do all we can during the day to stay ahead of it," Soto said.

Merritt has spun pizzas for about 10 Super Bowls. He said his store, with its location near Fort Hood and name recognition, typically does about twice to three times the business during Super Bowl Sunday as on an ordinary Sunday.

"It's hard to come up with figures off the cuff," he said, "but we'll probably sell about 1,000 between 5 and 9 p.m."

At the other end of the assembly line, delivery people were dealing with bigger and bigger stacks of pizzas.

"It's been slow until now, but it's starting to pick up," Dan Lydens said about 3:45 p.m.

Kimberly Aguilar said this was her first year to deliver but was expecting the biggest rush between 5 and 7 p.m.

"I really didn't want to work it because my team's in the Super Bowl, but they need everybody," she said.

Jimmy Hankins has delivered 10 or 11 years, first with another company and now Domino's.

With the voice of experience, he said, "We'll really get kicked until about halftime, and then it will taper off."

Contact Don Bolding at dbolding@kdhnews.com or call (254) 501-7557. Follow him on Twitter at KDHbusiness.

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