Originally created 02/05/06

Pizza makers ready to play



As football fans gather today to watch the Pittsburgh Steelers and Seattle Seahawks duke it out in Detroit, pizza chains across the country are preparing for their own big challenge.

Pizza has become a Super Bowl party staple, and pizza corporation employees have the tomato-stained aprons and pizza-box paper cuts to prove it.

"Super Bowl Sunday is our single busiest pizza sales day at Papa John's," said Chris Sternberg, a spokesman for the pizza chain. Today, the company will sell more than 600,000 pizzas and more than 1 million chicken wings at 2,600 Papa John's stores nationwide, he said.

That's a 50 percent increase in sales compared to a regular Sunday, Mr. Sternberg said.

Domino's Pizza expects to sell 1.5 million pizzas nationwide today, a 36 percent increase over normal Sunday sales, company spokeswoman Dana Harville said.

"Easily shared, (pizza) is something people really personify with parties," Ms. Harville said.

Pizza sales spike on Super Bowl Sunday as the number of pies delivered to a residence usually increases from two or three to between five and 10, said John Eckburg, the owner of four Domino's Pizza stores in Aiken and Augusta.

To prepare for the rush, extra pizza ingredients are ordered and additional staff is scheduled to work.

"On Super Bowl Sunday, basically everyone who is employed by the restaurant is scheduled to work," said Mr. Sternberg, explaining that a Papa John's regular employee team triples to 21 workers on the big day.

And, if you still haven't decided if you want to order pizza for your Super Bowl party, Mr. Eckburg said there's still time.

But get your orders in early. Just 15 minutes before the game begins, "the phones just light up," Mr. Eckburg said. "We're just taking orders constantly."

Reach Kate Lewis at (706) 823-3215 or kate.lewis@augustachronicle.com.

MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFFDomino's Pizza Area Supervisor Ron Norris is dwarfed by stacks of pizza boxes assembled in anticipation of a busy Super Bowl Sunday.

Game Day Facts - Domino's Pizza expects to sell 1.5 million pizzas nationwide. - Papa John's expects to sell more than 600,000 pizzas and 1 million chicken wings.