As you're aware, near the middle of August, Spak Brothers had a run of bad luck that the likes of Mr. Magoo couldn't evade. No amount of charm or whimsy could sidestep a broken door, a stolen register and a deceased cooler.
The Spak Boys were down on their luck. The cooler and the register of a pizza shop are keystone items. Without them there's no way to keep the dough chilled or make money. Their systems were crippled and faced a crossroad. Tough it our or sell their soul to the devil. Or, reach out to a Pittsburgh message board, Never Tell Me The Odds.
How did people ask for help before the Internet? Did every business have a custom spotlight? Classifieds? Either way, once Ryan Spak wrote that note Pittsburgh took immediate action. You never mess with a Pittsburgher's Pizza Shop.
A thread on Reddit, a note in Pittsburgh Magazine and a post on I Heart PGH was enough to build a Spak Milita. They opened that Thursday and Friday to record sales.
Ryan Spak says, "It's been insanely busy around here. We've had a ton of exposure and new customers. The Thursday and Friday immediately following were our best sales to date which is just awe-inspiring. Everyone here feels loved (and sweaty) and I thank everyone who came through from the bottom of my heart."
Much like how every slice of pizza is just as important as the next, every little bit of support helps a business in a pinch. This wasn't lost on Ryan and the Spak crew.
It's hard to put words to the emotions but the outreach was humbling to put it lightly. From Dan and the crew at Commonwealth Press going way above and beyond to all the people that wrote articles and blog posts on the fly to everyone who took the time to share a Facebook status or grab a slice I just want to say that there were times that I got misty eyed just waking up to all the support.
A very, very special shoutout to all of the incredible employees/friends at the shop who worked themselves ragged to pull everything together. Without all of them we are nothing and every single person here went way above and beyond what they needed to do.
I've heard comments and rumbling questioning this initiative. "Why should we help out Spak? My car died, can I get some help?" Hey, that'd be great, but Spak never asked for handouts. They have spent the years they've been open giving back to the community. Because they know without a neighborhood to eat their pizza, their pizza may as well not exist.
"We see owning a business as more than just making money," Ryan Spak says. "I guess a good way of saying it is that on a grander scope every donation to a cause that promotes equality, compassion, empowerment and education is an investment in the future. Things take a long time to change in our world and the fruits of our efforts may not even be apparent in our lifetimes. I'm ok with that and think often of the countless people who came before that had the presence of mind to plant the seeds of rights and opportunities that we tend to take for granted now."
So what's next for a pizza shop thriving in the heart of Garfield?
"We have outgrown our current location and are planning big things for the future but all that takes time (or lots of cash flow ha) but stay tuned for amazing things to come."
And it wouldn't be an interview with a pizza shop owner without a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Reference. As a thanks, Ryan told me to tell you all: