A Conversation with Alex Gruber, Mama’s Pizza and Grill

Alex Gruber and Brent Sharp of Mama's Pizza and GrillCo-owner Gruber talks display cases, stuffed pizzas, quality and its Philly cheesesteak

 

Mama’s Pizza and Grill
Sinking Spring Pennsylvania

Alex Gruber (left) along with Brent Sharp, own Mama’s Pizza and Grill, offering an assortment of stuffed pizzas.

 

The displays allow customers to sample our pies and decide which is the favorite. We are always willing to help them along and explain not only what is in all the pies, but recommend a pie they would like based off of their particular palate. This definitely increases our specialty pie sales, as well as gives customers a better idea of what kind of toppings are available.

Over the years there have been about eight staple stuffed and specialty pies that customers have come in daily looking for. Of those eight, we like to make sure at least 6 of them are always on the counter. We also need to have a balance on the counter of chicken, steak, vegetarian, meat, and supreme or mixture of topping pizzas to always have something for everyone. The counter holds 12 pies that can be displayed, with typically an extra two or three pies ready in waiting when one sells out. We typically have the staple pies that we know customers are going to want, then rotate an additional six to eight new or not as frequently displayed pies for customers not looking for the normal.

The stuffed pies are started with buttering a pizza pan. Then we stretch out a dough ball and lay it on the pan. Apply a thin layer of cheese, topping for the particular pie, then another thin layer of cheese. More dough is added and braided together with the bottom piece. That cooks in our oven for 10 minutes. It comes back out, then we apply cheese and the toppings and put it back in the oven for another 10 minutes. Five minutes in, we slide the pie off the tray to allow the bottom of the pie to crisp. Don’t go taking our ideas though. Just kidding… but really.

Few of our employees are allowed to make pizzas, and to be honest (only a) few want to. On a typical Friday, with counter food included, the pizza guy for that day will make upwards of 250 pizzas. We expect all the way through, from the first pie at 10 a.m. when we open to the last at 10 p.m. when we close, to be made to the best of their ability and the same every time. It’s a learning process. We start them off with measurements, then our hands become the scales.

We don’t have the typical Philly cheesesteak with whiz and onions on our menu. Our basic Cheesesteak comes just steak and American cheese. Customers in this area like it — and we like them, so we do what makes them happy. We are close enough to the city that we have the occasional order for a cheesesteak the “Philly” way, but have had success with our style. We don’t want to step on Pat’s or Tony’s shoes.

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