Pizza Inn serves community

Published 5:10 pm Saturday, July 20, 2013

Kelsey Taylor says she changed her college major to keep from having to quit her job at Pizza Inn.

“From nursing to medical office,” she said. “I didn’t want to have to quit.”

Taylor, now in her third year of employment at Pizza Inn, is more of the rule than the exception among her co-workers. Washington resident Lanie Smith said she might limit herself to weekend shifts once she starts attending East Carolina University next month, but she will not be turning in her resignation.

Sara Owen, in her seventh year at the restaurant, has stepped out of the Pizza Inn kitchen before, but something keeps drawing her back.

“We’ve got the best boss ever,” Owens said of general manager Hank McClenney. “He’s always in a good mood, and he works with you.”

Smith said McClenney gets in the trenches with the rest of the staff.

“He works with you, he doesn’t just tell you what to do,” she said.

McClenney has an even longer history with Pizza Inn. He started working for the restaurant chain 20 years ago and has been at the Washington location for 13 years. Assistant manager Patsy Davis has 23 years with the restaurant.

“I’d like to keep Hank here another 40 years, have him retire here,” said owner Bill Page.

Page’s father, William, started the restaurant 40 years ago. The location hasn’t changed, but the size of the restaurant and volume of business have. The restaurant has come a long way since it had a porch out front and a few tables indoors. Pizza Inn now has three separate dining areas and a buffet that continues to grow. 

The restaurant has managed to stay competitive with larger chains that offer home delivery. People continue to pour through the doors. About 25 percent to 30 percent of the restaurant’s business is carryout.

Chocowinity resident Faye Edwards sat waiting for her large pizza with jalapenos. She said the children she babysits want Pizza Inn pizza every day. And that is just fine with her.

“I eat here everyday and lost weight,” she said. “I don’t know how, but I did it.”

McClenney said everyone has menu favorites. The dessert pizzas are often more popular than the regular pizzas, and the buffet always draws a crowd.

“We have two women from Williamston every Thursday for our cream of potato soup,” he said.

Page said community service, fresh ingredients and pizza dough made from scratch have kept Pizza Inn a popular Washington eatery.

“Washington has been good to Pizza Inn,” he said. “Pizza Inn has 180 stores nationwide, and this Pizza Inn has been one of the top 10 (Pizza Inn locations) in the nation.”

He said his management team has done a great job getting involved with the community and local charities. In fact, Pizza Inn hosts weekly fundraisers, from which tips and a percentage of the proceeds go to a local charity.

“This store has steadily grown with Washington,” Page said. “We just want to build and continue to take care of Washington.”

Pizza Inn is located at 1509 Carolina Ave in Washington. Hours of operation are 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Sundays to Thursdays and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. For more information, call 946-0149.