Plaza Pizza Shares Unique Connection With Fellow Shops
By Tom Reifsnyder
It’s no secret that businesses compete for customers, but for Plaza Pizza, family comes first.
In the early 90s, the first Plaza Pizza was opened by the father of a Greek immigrant family on Spring Garden St. in North Philadelphia, Pa. The son of the founding family opened the second and most current shop in 2006 on 1600 North Broad St, directly across from Morgan Hall on Temple University’s Main Campus. The owners’ identities are kept secret for unspecified reasons.
Plaza Pizza is a staple of the food scene in Temple’s city-style college town.
Students, police officers, and North Philadelphians all flock to Plaza day after day to indulge in the restaurant’s wide variety of options. They serve everything from breakfast to cheesesteaks, and pizza of course.
Although Plaza boasts an expansive customer base, City View and Philly Style also share a considerable slice of the pizza business on Temple’s Main Campus. The three shops have similar entrees, but the menu isn’t the only thing they have in common.
“We’re all Greeks, and we actually all hangout together,” Plaza employee Sam Memmos said. “My brother works at City View, my cousin also works at City View, my other cousin is a partner with Philly Style, and the one owner from Philly Style is originally from City View, so it’s all connected.
“A lot of us are cousins, kids you grew up with, kids you went to school with, kids you went to Greek school with; everyone knows each other.”
Memmos, 23, moved back to the U.S. from Greece two years ago after spending 11 years in his home country. He is currently in his second year as a Plaza employee.
There’s no doubt that pizza is a family affair for Plaza, City View, and Philly Style. Although the three shops inevitably compete for customers, the employees never hesitate to lend a helping hand.
“It’s not a competition at all,” Plaza floor manager Jack Karamitopulos, 36, said. “When we run out of stuff or when they run out of stuff, we all help each other out.
“We hangout outside of work and share stories with them and they share stories with us, you know, sit there and laugh about it; everybody gets along pretty good.”
While the majority of the employees share a Greek connection, Plaza employee and Temple student Daniel Archer is among the group of non-Greeks that has been welcomed into the family business.
“Everyone here is very cool and we have such a racially diverse group of people that work here,” Archer said. “A lot of our drivers are Algerian, Egyptian, and African American.
“I’m an American mutt, everyone else is a bunch of Greeks, and we all get along together; we learn different lingo and stuff like that, so it’s a lot of fun.”
Archer, 26, is a senior Anthropology student in Temple’s College of Liberal Arts. Balancing school with a part-time job isn’t easy, but Archer has been able to make it work with Plaza.
“They’re really willing to work with my school schedule, which makes it so much easier for me, just like any college student,” he said. “If you have a boss that isn’t willing to work around the most important thing that you have going for you, there’s no point in working there.
“These guys will always tell me that school comes first.”
Plaza’s family-first mentality is undoubtedly what makes their restaurant unique to Temple’s racially diverse community.
To check out the menu or place an online order, head over to www.plazapizzaandgrill.com.