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Friday, July 11, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 74.0° F  Mostly Cloudy


The weather may be frightful, but the pizza gets delivered
Delivering pies with Glass Nickel drivers

Glass Nickel drivers learn a thing or two about winter driving.
Glass Nickel drivers learn a thing or two about winter driving.
Credit:Glass Nickel Pizza
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By some cruel trick, February has 29 days this year, which means that this unprecedentedly horrible winter is lasting a little bit longer than it might. Which hurts. Appreciation is due, then, to the professionals who, driving on icy streets in howling blizzards, keep doing their jobs. The snowplow drivers. The mail carriers.

And -- bless them all -- the people who deliver pizza. No matter how foul the weather, they always bring the sacred pies to your door.

Well, mostly always. "We've got some pretty seasoned drivers, and they know their routine," says Neil Spath, owner of the Glass Nickel Pizza Co. on University Avenue. "But we don't ask them to deliver in conditions when they can't get around. We'll take a look at the weather, and we might have to stop delivery for an hour or two."

Spath understands what drivers face, since he is out delivering pizzas himself, most days. Indeed, in his Toyota 4Runner, he is a pizza guy prepared for the worst.

"It's a fun job," he says. "You're your own boss out there, really. There's a lot of freedom." Drivers at the west side Glass Nickel deliver 500 or more pizzas per day.

Are the tips better when the roads are slick? "As an overall average, no," says April Johnson, fiancee of Spath and herself a Glass Nickel driver. True, she says, "There are a few people who, when you come to the door, will say, 'I'm so sorry to bring you out here,' and they give you a fat tip."Even so, she notes, "When the roads are moving slow, we're moving slow." That means fewer pizzas are delivered, which means fewer tips. "It evens out," she says.

Glass Nickel drivers learn a thing or two about winter driving. They watch the weather reports. "We highly recommend that they take a shovel and a band of salt or sand," says Johnson. When drivers gets stuck, other Glass Nickel employees go to their aid, in lieu of AAA.

So given the arduous driving, do pizza delivery people look forward to summer? No, actually, because more pizzas are sold in winter. "In June and July, we're slow, comparatively speaking," says Spath. "Summers in general seem a little more laid back in Madison. People have time to cook."

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