Pizza: slicing off a piece of the pie

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Local college students spend more than $960,000 a year on pizza.

There’s something about college students and pizza that go together like warm cheese and bread crusts.

Classes started a month ago at Colorado College — and that means one thing, at least 5,000 pizzas have been consumed by hungry students.

Each year, the Colorado College students, faculty, visitors and conference guests spend about $49 million on goods and services in the community, according to an economic impact study.

Among the findings: students spend a lot of cash on pizza. The 2,000 students at the small liberal arts college in the heart of the downtown order more than 5,000 pizza pies a month. At roughly $16 per large pepperoni pie, that’s $80,000 a month or $960,000 a year spent at local pizza joints.

That’s a lot of dough, said Louie Sciarrotta, owner of Louie’s Pizza shops. Colorado College pizza eating represents about 40 percent of sales at his downtown location. His restaurant takes Colorado College purchase orders, which means he’s in business for big pizza orders.

“It’s a great asset for us,” he said. “Whole departments, like the art department for example, order a lot of pizzas — 20 or 30 at a time.”

The local pizza shop owners and pizza makers don’t try to analyze the whys of the great love affair between college students and pizza. They just know that come the last week in August, when college students start moving into the dormitories on campus, the phone starts ringing — a 15 percent increase at Dominos Pizza downtown, one assistant manager said.

“As soon as school is out, business takes a major nose dive,” Sciarrotta said. “But, even the week before school starts, all the moving vans are rolling in, everybody is coming back.”

Whether it is thin crust or cheese filled fat crusts, New York style or Chicago style, nobody can inhale pizza like the college crowd. Lynnette DiRaddo, Worner Campus Center manager at Colorado College, ordered 160 pizzas from Borriello Brothers downtown for the big end-of-school- year Llamapalooza party. Forty hot pizzas came every hour for four hours.

“Within minutes it was all gone,” she said. “I should have ordered more.”

Pizza is the lure that the 56 residential hall assistants use to get college students to group functions like Meet the Dean night, said Sara Rotunno, assistant director of resident life on Colorado College. They’ve tried sub sandwiches and Chinese food, but pizza is the universal love of the young adults.

“The neat thing about pizza is that it’s so easy to accommodate dietary needs — all veggies, or no cheese,” she said.

Matt Barbee, Boriello Brothers assistant manager at the downtown shop, said he’s taken many orders of 100 pizzas or more for Colorado College events. It takes some good pie planning — his four pizza ovens can cook 20 pizzas at one time with a 10 to 12 minute baking time.

“If it all needs to be delivered at the same time, we’ll call another location in the company and split up the order,” he said. “When we get a huge order like that, it’s a lot of fun.”

And, there’s nothing cheesy about that.