Even for people that love to cook as much as Alison and I do, the occasional convenient dinner is invaluable. We have a couple of local restaurants we enjoy and can afford, but even better is a meal we can get on our terms. Alison told the story of when we discovered the newly-opened Homemade Pizza Company branch in DC, noting that you really need to try any place that strangers stop you and recommend in strong terms. Even though I can’t quit them, there are times when I’m strongly tempted.
The concept is simple – you call and order a combination of items like you would from any other pizza joint, except they put it together without cooking it. The ingredients are high quality and they sell a variety of good side salads and desserts. The pizza is easy to prepare at home, so it’s like a quality professional pizza that you eat piping hot, and can modify with additional toppings of your own before baking. We have several friends that swear by it, as did we.
Over the four months or so that we’ve been patronizing the place, we’ve ordered and eaten probably a dozen times – the spinach and sausage pizza has become a Friday night staple to go along with a bottle of cabernet and a game of cribbage. It’s good for impromptu get-togethers with friends, too. You can spontaneously decide on a visit and take with you an easy offering that takes 20 minutes from whenever you arrive and decide to eat.
Unfortunately, not every aspect of the experience rivals the quality of the foot itself, especially their front-of-house service. While Alison and I have a routine that works – I fly, she buys – HMP seems to have trouble maintaining basic procedures to make sure that their customers can come pick up orders with a minimum of hassle.
I’ve been the only customer in the restaurant and had to wait upward of a minute before even being acknowledged, while the person manning the register finishes an email. I’ve been told twice that they didn’t have a record of the order we’d called in, and had to persuade someone to check the refrigerated case, where they have found it easily both times. I’ve also been told twice that I owed money for our usual pizza and salad, even though Alison always pays when she called in the order. Again, on both occasions, when I persuaded them to actually check the bag containing the order, there were executed credit slips just awaiting signature. Once, the total was more than we should have been charged and we had to wait while they re-ran the card with the correct amount.
Alison got pizza with a friend a couple of nights ago, and all of the above happened to her again. I don’t think anything ought to be easier than calling in an order and stopping to pick it up, but Homemade Pizza Company’s batting average on saving us the hassle of making our own pizza is woeful.
More than anything, I’ll admit one of the things rankling me is the constant barrage of email telling us that they appreciate our patronage, but when Alison did them a solid, they did absolutely nothing to show her they appreciated it. Back in October, Alison wrote about our discovery of our new favorite pizza in very complimentary terms, and it wasn’t long before HMP contacted her to ask if they could link to her in the media section of their website. Alison was amenable. But while the company was perfectly willing to take advantage of her endorsement, it offered nothing to show its appreciation. A couple of complimentary pies would have been nice, though unnecessary, but the least they could have done would be a ping-back to her blog. Granted, Alison is a great writer, but it was clearly not a professional review that someone got paid for writing. She didn’t write about them in the hope of a reward, but helping her increase traffic to her blog in exchange for the free publicity would have been common courtesy.
There are a couple places in this post where I almost linked to Alison’s original post, but didn’t. If HMP ever cures the failure of courtesy, I’ll probably amend it.
Aside from the blog thing, this is great pizza with lousy logistics. If you’re willing to put up with possible delays and irritation (and scrutinize your bill), you’ll still end up with a great-tasting and convenient meal. Once the novelty wears off the new place in town, I’ll be sincerely interested to see how loyal their customer base remains in the face of the problems.