Last November, local food truck favorite Pi Pizza wanted to celebrate its one year anniversary with something memorable. Anthony Calleo, owner and head honcho of Pi Pizza, came up with the idea to offer anyone who got a Pi Pizza tattoo during that month free pizza for life.
Not some pizza for a couple of months, not free pizza until he gets tired of seeing your face. Nope, free pizza for as long as you're alive. The deal would even extend into Pi Pizza's future brick-and-mortar plans. One slice a day was the only catch. But considering their slices are ¼ the size of a whole pizza, one slice is easily a meal. Calleo partnered with Scorpion Studio's Gabriel Massey, who designed the flash sheet of tattoos that were various designs all revolving around Pi Pizza. A total of 22 people got tattooed throughout the month to express their pizza love.
As both a tattoo lover and a pizza lover, I thought this deal was nothing short of perfect. I made my appointment and soon had my new tattoo. The next evening, I was at Pi Pizza Truck showing them my new ink, ready to receive my slice. It was pretty straightforward, and it wasn't soon after that when they started remembering me.
I frequented it often, and for some weeks (more than I'd like to admit), I tried going every day they were open to get the best mileage out of my tattoo. Was this all part of an evil plan to feed me for free until I keeled over and died due to excessive amounts of pizza? Death by pizza doesn't sound half bad, actually, but no, Calleo wasn't plotting to ruin my life with his offer. I recently caught up with Calleo to ask him how this idea started and what he might have planned down the road.
"I just thought it would be something cool to do, honestly, and I was curious to see if people would do it. I have a lot of tattoos and tattoos have always been something I've been interested in. I love tattoos; I love tattoo culture. The back of my truck says 'pizza tattoos whiskey rock and roll.' I thought it would be something neat to do," Calleo says.
"Making it that first year, managing to stay open, was a big deal to me personally. It wasn't easy. I wanted to do a cool thing to kind of give back to customers. I thought something that was in line with the style and feel of the brand, and, you know, we kind of have a ride-or-die attitude. I want to see who is with me. I honestly expected three to four people. When 22 people did it, I couldn't believe it. That blew my mind. People still ask me if we are still doing it. I tell them when year two comes around. I'm going to make it down to a week instead of a month."
I can vouch for myself when I say I bring new customers to them. It's kind of unavoidable when I usually go with a group of friends to Catbirds, where the truck is stationed every night it is open. Almost every single time, they order something from Pi Pizza when they see me chomping down on my slice. I asked Calleo how some of his other tattooed free-pizza-for-lifers treated the deal.
"It comes and goes. I maybe see somebody once a week. There is a couple that lives in Katy that each have one. But when they come, they order the whole menu. Almost all the people with tattoos tend to bring someone with them who doesn't have one. The theory behind it that I had going into it that I was hoping would work is working. How do I complain about that? The fact that I have customers that do that blows my mind. I'm just a dude with a truck and an oven; I'm nobody. People like that are what lets me do this. If people aren't feeling what we're doing, then we are just spinning our wheels."
Apparently Gabriel Massey also retained some customers from their pizza tattoos making this offer a beneficial endeavor for both parties.
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"He did all our branding and logo on our truck. It worked out well for him. Having him draw up that flash was super cool. He did such a great job. It was kind of a way to give him some respect, business and exposure, which is great."
When asked if he would do this same promotion next year Calleo says yes, but with an important adjustment.
"I am definitely doing it again if we make it to year two. We will do some of the same tattoos and add some new ones. I'm happy it didn't put us out of business. I'm prepared for next year. I feel like after round one, year two might be busted down to a week. No month!"
Calleo also says he is planning to add lunch to his schedule by the second week of May. He is currently looking at some potential places to set up and is in the process of securing a site for his brick-and-mortar location.