Ordering pizza is just a mouse-click away

Andrew Hampp

Several Kent pizza restaurants have something instant messengers and frustrated pizza customers alike can appreciate.

With online ordering, customers can browse entire menus, specify pizza toppings and even pay for transactions all without human interaction.

If it sounds like online ordering seems tailor made for college students, that’s because the trend was kick-started in 1997 by Michael Saunders, who was then a junior at the University of Pennsylvania.

Saunders had a sudden craving for a tuna hoagie from Lee’s Hoagie House, his favorite area restaurant. But after making multiple phone calls to place his order, Saunders was eventually hung up on by the time he got through to the restaurant.

Perturbed by his experience, Saunders quickly found a way to streamline take-out orders by starting Campusfood.com, an online service that provides college students with access to menus and the ability to place and pay for entire meal orders without ever picking up the phone, or, in some cases, leaving the house.

Incidentally, Lee’s Hoagie House was the first restaurant Saunders signed up on the fledgling food site, said Rob Saunders, marketing coordinator for

Campusfood.com and Michael’s brother.

Since launching, Campusfood.com has attracted over 250 participating universities, including Kent State in 2003, Rob said.

Among the first of Kent’s restaurants to sign with Campusfood.com was Europe Gyro. Manager Michael Ash said although the Greek and Italian-based eatery receives about two to three online orders a week, he doesn’t anticipate college students preferring online orders over the phone anytime soon.

“There will always be college students ordering on their way home from the bar,” said Ash. “People are going to want food on their way home and will use their cell phones to call ahead so they can have the food ready when they pick it up.”

David Miller, senior computer technology major, found his online experience with Papa John’s last summer to be helpful, but he hasn’t done it since.

“I feel like my order is more complete that way,” he said. “But it didn’t give me an estimated time about when my food would be ready. That kind of pissed me off.”

Dominic Depompei, a junior transient student from Otterbien College, also found his first online order to be awkward.

“It worked,” he said. “But it doesn’t really feel like you’re ordering food.”

Although it may take time for students to adjust to giving their pizza orders to a computer rather than a person, Rob Saunders said he sees online ordering continuing to catch on because of its convenience.

“I would definitely think (ordering online is) more reliable,” he said. “There’s less of a chance for miscommunication.”

Contact technology reporter Andrew Hampp at [email protected].