How One Bite Changed Paesan’s Pizza Man For Life
At around 6pm on Friday, life changed for Frank Scavio part owner of the locally owned and family operated Paesan's Pizza of the Capital Region. That's when, like many others, I was thrilled to see Paesan's get national love and tons of local attention when one of their frozen pizza's was reviewed by Barstool Sports owner Dave Portnoy. I'm a big fan of Paesan's and Portnoy (or El Pres as he's known) so this was the perfect slice for me. I reached out to Frank last night just to congratulate him on his recent success and in the middle of shipping and delivery chaos, he called me up and broke down how he went from pizza man, to pizza machine.
Even though Frank had plenty to say to me on the phone, it's safe to say that he and his family are speechless when it comes to the amount of business a single Portnoy review has generated. Frank and I shot the shit for about 20 minutes and I was talking to him as a friend, and wasn't taking notes or recording the call like an actual journalist. Much of this is written based purely on our friendly convo.
As of Sunday night around 8PM, in the 2 plus days since the review when up (dinner time on Friday) Frank told me he did about $10,000 in business, shipping thousands of his frozen pizzas across the country. He told me the orders literally have not stopped. His website crashed multiple times and local grocery stores who carry his frozen product ran out almost instantly. The demand had far exceeded the supply, but he was doing all he could to keep up. He told me that within the first four minutes of our phone call, he did another $300 in sales.
He wasn't telling me this to brag. Frank and his family have been in the pizza business since 1994 and they work their asses off, and they're good people. It should also be noted that while none of this success could have ever been scripted, it wasn't exactly an accident either.
The quarantine as a result of the coronavirus pandemic has provided Portnoy with some incredible content opportunities while millions of people have been locked down over the past month or so. While many of us are deprived of sports, Barstool - a sports and humor site - has done an incredible job keeping people entertained. Portnoy has been a huge part of that and his electrical frozen pizza reviews have really taken off. Portnoy has always been known as the 'pizza guy' reviewing slices from all over the country for several years now. He's feisty, obnoxious, unfiltered, and sometimes downright mean, but he's also incredibly likable at the same time. He's perfected the skill of being an asshole but doing it in the most respectful way possible.
During the lockdown, Portnoy has been unable to hit the streets looking for the next slice to review so he turned to reviewing exclusively frozen pies and he's done them daily. From the little guys, to the big guys like Newman's Own, Stouffers, Tombstone, Wegman's, DiGiorno, and Ellio's, everybody started to send him the goods. He's reviewed em all, and keeps a running tally of scores. Some as low as .08, others as high as an 8.8.
Frank was persistent in getting his frozen pizza in the hands of Portnoy knowing full well that regardless of his score, it would be a pop to his business. He was determined and resourceful, screen grabbing Portnoy's home address from a box he saw in some previous Barstool content. He was also smart, sending a horse racing themed bobblehead (knowing that Portnoy loves the Saratoga Race Course) and even included the cuteness factor of his own kids in the note he sent. He told Portnoy in a letter that he and the kids watch him every night waiting for the Paesan's review. He played on every emotion, and Portnoy took the bait, and then he took one bite. The grade was a 7.1 which Frank didn't love, but could live with. The truth is, the Prez is a hard critic and of the 30 or so he reviewed, Paesan's was in the top 25%.
Frank also was fully aware that even if he got one of the lower scores, locals would rally on their behalf, generating even more buzz. Portnoy's score was decent enough, but the amount of exposure that Paesan's got was through the roof. It was 7 minutes of pure El Pres content. He screwed up the name of the place a half a dozen times, he cursed like a sailor even when referencing Frank's young kids, and viewers ate it up. So did Frank, because he gets it.
Frank knows that business will eventually level off but I did press him into 'guestimating' how much money he stands to make in the next two or three weeks while this peaks. Was it 50 grand? 75 grand? He laughed off any notion that he'll be rich from one pizza review telling me that he's got two other partners also pulling in 33.3%.
But regardless of the money, this is about family and community and he reiterated to me over and over that he's extremely blessed. Talk to Frank for any length of time, and you'll sense that he really is blessed. He wants to take care of his kids and family and make his brothers proud. And he will give back to the community, because Paesan's always does that.
Frank Scavio probably won't have time to read this blog post today, and that's a good thing for him. He's got pies to make and packages to ship all over the world. People are beginning to understand the 'Portnoy Effect' and it's true what they say when it comes to business; any press is good press. I guess you can say that even though at times he can come off as an asshole, when it comes to Portnoy, any Pres is good Pres. But this success isn't all on Portnoy. None of this would have happened if Frank from Paesan's didn't strike while the oven was hot.
There's another saying in business that most certainly applies here: It's not always who works the hardest, it's who works the smartest.