It’s 2:00 a.m. on what you’d like to believe is still a Saturday night. Students all over Gainesville have been bar hopping or pub crawling, depending on their physical state. The point? They are all hungry. Hungry for some good, old fashioned drunk pizza that will soak up the bad decisions of the night. Enter a late-night, Midtown classic: Italian Gator Pizza.
Italian Gator Pizza, known by many as Pizza by the Slice was established in 2000. The Italian Gator Pizza staff has been serving the colorful characters that are UF students after dark since. Located in between The Social and Jimmy Johns in Midtown, it serves as the prime location for a midnight snack… and some interesting stories.
Nighttime employees Augustus Daniels and Laura Martin say that while the work environment is fun, it can definitely get chaotic and intense with hundreds of kids drunkenly screaming orders, demanding more parmesan and demonstrating utmost entitlement. According to Daniels and Martin, students can get loud, belligerent and bratty. Nonetheless, they enjoy the job!
“I definitely enjoy it, mainly because of who I work with. You just learn how to deal with everything going on outside. It’s definitely taught me a lot about patience,” Martin said.
According to Martin, the peak time of business is anywhere from 11:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m. Sometimes the line will stretch as far down as the Salty Dog Saloon or Fat Daddy’s, but that doesn't stop your average frat bro or sorority girl from fighting his or her way to the front. The employees maintain composure as kids will try to fight them on prices and slices. They’ve even had entire shakers of parmesan cheese stolen.
“Yeah, somewhere, someone’s definitely got a shrine of shakers from us. Sometimes they will give them back, though,” Daniels said.
The employees claim that while students can be entitled and fairly rude to them, they are actually more aggressive toward each other. One claimed that sometimes they have to call the cops on them, but it never escalates into anything terrible. Nonetheless, they have some juicy stories to tell.
Last Friday night, a male college student caused a ruckus when buying two slices of pizza from Martin. According to Martin, he was being fussy over the fact that she did not give him a penny back when he paid $3 for pizza that was $2.99.
“Sometimes you give them change and they don’t want it, sometimes you don’t give them change and they do want it. It’s a weird unspoken rule when working here,” Martin said.
When Martin did not give the boy his change back, he looked at her disapprovingly and said “uh, my change?” He then proceeded to come back later in the night with his friends and tried to tell another employee that the price of the pizza was $1.89 and not $2.99. The employee attempted to calm the student down by telling him the definite price of the pizza, but the situation escalated. He angrily held up the line, yelling profanities at the employees.
“When people are being extremely rude, we try to kick them out of the window but you can’t kick kids off the sidewalk,” Daniels said. “We don’t have bouncers or anything. Occasionally there will be someone who insists on staying, and at the point it’s kind of like, ‘What to do?’”
Needless to say, the employees have dealt with their fair share of chaos. As a recent UF graduate, Martin claims that, if nothing else, the kids nowadays aren’t necessarily more entitled than when she went to school but reaffirm that image.