Political Contributor, Local Reporter
CICERO - Maryanne Gallardo and Paul Schaffer waited for a pizza to arrive from Paisan's Pizza in Cicero, Illinois. It was a hot, humid day in the Chicagoland area and the young couple ordered out from their local pizza shop. "It's usually quite delicious," Maryanne stated. "However, we received a bit more than we expected this time around."
When Maryann and Paul opened their pizza box, hoping to indulge in a large sausage pizza, they found 3 long strands of hair. "The hair was long, and very oily," Paul mentioned while he showed Le Prestige the empty pizza box that still stood in their kitchen. "We kept the evidence to show the pizzeria."
Schaffer called Paisan's Pizza, located at 5840 W. 16th Street in Cicero, a suburb located 15 minutes southwest of Chicago. "When I called Paisan's Pizza, a young woman answered and I calmly explained the problem. Less than a minute after I'd begun speaking, she interrupted me very rudely," Schaffer stated. "She asked if I was going to order something. She obviously didn't understand what I was telling her."
Maryanne and Paul claim to have communicated their concern on June 26th to a women named Maria, the assistant manager. "When we called, the staff we spoke to refused to give us their names," Maryanne confidently told Le Prestige as she presented the times, dates, and length of the conversations they had with Paisan's Pizza. "After stating that we would write a negative review online, the woman we finally spoke with said her name was Maria and that she was the assistant manager."
Paul and Maryanne believe that their concern isn't simply for a pizza gone wrong. "It's the essence of customer service," Paul added. "It simply isn't fair for customers to be treated so poorly, especially if they're a neighborhood chain and rely heavily on local money."
This is far from an isolated incident. According to the Better Business Bureau and Yelp, Paisan's Pizza in Cicero, owned by Pete Fujzuloski, has received numerous complaints with regards to health code violations, negative customer service reviews, as well as providing "problems with products".
Customer service isn't the only problem that plagues Paisan's Pizza in Cicero. According to residents in Cicero and Berwyn, Paisan's is notorious for discriminating against women and African Americans. Tasha, a resident of Cicero, recalls trying to order 2 pizzas and a gyro in June when the young woman placing her order explicitly discriminated against her. "I was telling her what I wanted to order, and the girl I talked to told me she didn't speak Ebonics," Tasha told Le Prestige. "I was speaking to her normally, and I asked her for the total amount. This girl, who told me her name was Jessica, said that they didn't accept L.I.N.K.: how am I supposed to feel?"
Since May 2012, Paisan's Pizza in Cicero has received 17 different complaints on Yelp and 24 on several other online restaurant directories, including Zagat and ConsumerReport.com.
In April 2012, a resident of Berwyn alleges that a young man at the Cicero location called her sexist names. "I wore my jogging outfit when I picked up a pizza, and one of the boys working the register called me very offensive names as I was leaving." The 17 year-old woman, a native of Harvey, IL, stated that she was called a "mamacita" and asked "how much?" as she left the establishment. "I'm very offended, and honestly a bit degraded."
A recent incident involved 3 large pizzas with a friendly critter cooked into the dough. Jose Luis Monroy and his family placed an order on July 1st. They spoke to a young woman who informed them their pizza would arrive in one hour. When their pizza failed to arrive within an hour and a half, they called Paisan's and spoke to Maria. "The store manager was very rude and unsympathetic to our needs," Monroy stated. "If I'm paying over $70 for pizzas, I better get my food on time and the way I want it without the sass."
Jose Luis mentioned that the Maria initially claimed to be the owner of Paisan's Pizza in Cicero. After the pizzas were delivered and his daughter found a cockroach cooked into the crust of his large pepperoni pizza, he made another call to the establishment. According to Monroy, Maria now claimed to be the restaurant manager. "I told her there was a huge bug on my pizza and that I either wanted fresh pizzas or a refund. She laughed over the phone and stated she couldn't speak enough Spanish to help me."
Le Prestige contacted Paisan's Pizza on July 2nd and spoke with a young woman by the name of Liz. When asked about the incident, she said she "couldn't talk about it". Liz, who claims to be "kind of new to picking up phones", was very rude and didn't know the names of the managers or assistant managers. "I've only been here for 2 weeks...I don't know who Maria is."
On July 3rd, a man by the name of Jason picked up the phone. When asked about Maria or Pete, the owner of Paisan's Pizza, he mentioned he didn't know who they were. "I think Maria is that chick who works in the kitchen, and Pete is probably the guy who works the register," Jason said over the phone. "I'm not really sure, though. I've only been here 6 months."
Maryanne and Paul wish that Paisan's Pizza in Cicero would do more to keep its customers content before it's too late. "This honestly is a shame," Paul mentioned exuberantly. "I work for the health department and the hair in the food, the bugs on the pizza, these are big code violations that can shut them down very easily, very fast."