Hangin’ with the ‘Guys’
Pizza sits under a warmer during the late-night rush at Guy’s Pizza. Cody Francis | Daily Kent Stater
Credit: DKS Editors
It’s a Thursday night on South Water Street. A group of girls walk by in heels and halters. A group of guys wear button-up shirts and backwards hats. There’s a couple holding hands standing by a guy trying his best to impress a girl, while she tries her best to turn him down nicely. There’s a girl wearing a little black dress complemented by earrings, makeup and pizza on her face. Welcome to Guy’s Pizza.
The pizza shop is one of many scattered in downtown Kent. But, somehow, the hole-in-the-wall pizza shop dominates the late night scene on the weekends. With the amount of bar-goers-turned-pizza-eaters entering Guy’s after last call, manager Evan Lundberg has plenty of interesting stories from the after party.
Lundberg says the pizza shop doesn’t get busy until 1:30 a.m. It may be difficult to believe a place doesn’t get busy until the early hours of the morning, but it’s true: At midnight, there is nobody in the store but two employees.
Lundberg, a 2005 Kent State graduate, is making pizzas like a one-man assembly line. The pizza rack beside him is already holding 10 to 12 pizzas ready to hit the oven. Lundberg says the only way to get through the night is to be prepared. He has no doubt the crowd will file in soon, and starts to talk about them.
“A guy, he came in drunk, we sold him a slice. He gave us money; we gave him his change back. He thought the slice was his change so he proceeded to jam it in his wallet. And he got the name ‘pizza wallet guy.’ He comes in and knows his nickname.
“We had another guy that slept on that ledge right there,” Lundberg points to a shallow ledge in the side of the lobby, “for an hour and a half or so. We had to wake him up around 2:30 (a.m.) to tell him we need to close up. He actually thanked us for waking him up and taking care of him.”
Ten people walk in. Among them is Deora Mowry, senior hospitality management major.
“I can get pizza $1 a slice,” she sings. It’s from the song “I Love College” by Asher Roth, she says.
“I think about Kent State and college, and I think we can get pizza $1 a slice right here down at the bars at Guy’s,” Mowry says about hearing that song.
There are about 12 people in the lobby. A Guy’s employee takes the stools out of the lobby.
“It just helps move people out,” the employee says. “Also so people don’t take things.”
Lundberg says people steal their stuff often.
“We’ve had a couple rugs stolen, a couple gumball machines,” he says. “Everything off the wall is pretty much fair game.”
Customers are starting to overflow onto the sidewalks. While a customer is pouring piles of cheese and red peppers on a plate to take home, Lundberg puts a new pizza on the rack of the warmer in the lobby. Another customer walks in the door and yells, “I’ll buy that whole pizza.”
Two other customers stuff hot pizza in their mouths. They suck in air as they bite it to combat the heat.
“It’s so good we really don’t care,” they say.
It seems to be the peak of the night. Dozens of customers walk in and out, even more line the sidewalks with pizza slices in their hands and boxes at their feet. The line now has more than 25 people. The shop is shoulder-to-shoulder with customers.
Two of them are having an argument. One yells, “Anyone who can guess my weight gets free pizza on me from Guy’s all December.”
His friend tells him he’s going to be broke if someone gets it right. He changes the stakes of the challenge: “Two pizzas a day,” he says.
Lundberg just smiles behind the counter as he hands a customer change.
The lobby and streets start to clear out. Just a few customers remain. Marell Harrell, senior sports administration major, talks about why he is there so late.
“I come to Guy’s Pizza because I’m the DD,” Harrell says. “I always come because I don’t drink and they’re always hungry.” He points to his two friends. “It’s the best pizza in Kent, even sober.”
His friends, not sober, try to oust him.
“To be honest, he drink Coronas – on the road,” says Harrell’s friend Devin Hunter, junior justice studies major. “He says he don’t drink, but we found Coronas in his car in the back seat.
Their friend John Lewis, freshman business management major, tries to say why he’s at Guy’s, but his friends interrupt with jabs at him as well.
“I’m a Kent State guy, so I’m gonna keep it real. Kent State pizza, Kent State guy…” he’s interrupted by Hunter.
“He’s a 35-year-old freshman,” Hunter says. “When he first hit Kent State’s campus, I was like four.”
The three friends left, laughing their way out of the door. There was one customer remaining.
“How much pizza do you have?” the customer asks Lundberg. Lundberg tells him there are eight slices left.
“I’ll take all of it,” the customer says.
The customer leaves and remnants of pizza and plates are the only things that remain. Outside, the sidewalk looks as if it were a dump. Lundberg slowly chips away at the cleanup task ahead of him.
“We’re pretty efficient about it,” he says about cleaning up. “We get out probably no later than 3:30 (a.m.) As soon as they (the customers) get out, I mean. We shut down quick.”
A step outside, faint echoes of partygoers screams can still be heard. The chaos of the night is evident. Lundberg shrugs it off and says Thursday isn’t even their busiest night – it’s Saturday. Fall isn’t even their busiest time of year – it’s spring. Lundberg says to come back on a “busy night.”
Contact campus editor Cody Francis at [email protected]