FORT WAYNE – Outside, the frozen streets are emptying, with the few cars still on the road appearing to be in a hurry to get home before kickoff.
But inside, Lexy’s Pizza is a hive of activity, all of it revolving around the hot ovens that dominate the kitchen.
I need stuff for a taco pizza, as well – no lettuce, someone says. Employees assemble pizzas, wrap sausage rolls and build grinders, tend the ovens, take phone orders, run dough through the dough roller and work the counter.
I’m out the door, says Diane Hagan, one of the night’s delivery drivers.
Jason? Is Jason here? asks manager Tonya Minser, wrapping up a carry-out order. The assembly table is full of items being put together, the ovens are full, the waiting area has three people waiting for orders and Brenda Hill is on the phone, taking orders for more.
Just give me about 45 minutes, Hill says into the earpiece.
Welcome to Super Bowl Sunday.
It would be easy to let it be stressful – especially on a night when they will likely double their usual Sunday business – but the workers at Lexy’s, 908 Spring St., insist on making it fun.
When one customer is accidentally given the wrong order, she brings it back inside – but then accidentally drops it. No problem, Crystal Wolford insists. They just get the customer her correct order, fix the damage and move on to the next order. As kickoff approaches, business slows, and Minser says it will probably stay slow until just before halftime when they’ll get slammed again.
Now that you’ve got a moment to breathe, Minser says to everyone, make sure you’ve got a Sprite or something to drink.
Hill leans against the counter for a minute and smiles. I wouldn’t have missed this, she says.
Lexy’s has been around since at least 1957 and owned by the Ford family since 1961. Minser grew up eating Lexy’s and started working there at 16. She worked in church ministry for two decades but needed a break, and John Ford asked her if she’d consider coming back.
I said sure, I need something fun for a while, she says. This is fun.
What makes it fun? The customers, most of whom are so regular they can tell stories about them, such as the one who asked Minser to marry him after a few too many beers, and they miss them if they don’t show up one week.
One customer Sunday night is Greg McClure, picking up pizza to watch the Super Bowl with his 89-year-old father. It’s a tradition for us, he says. We get Lexy’s pizza for the Super Bowl every year.
For Steve Tyler, it’s the quality that has him driving down from the north side for a deep-dish with everything.
I like the old-school pizza rather than the commercial style, Tyler says. I’m a single guy – I’m gonna pig out.
As business starts to pick up again, the chatter slows and the orders flow.
Hill spreads sausage and green olives over a pizza, while Wolford rings up a carry-out order at the counter. And Hill is back on the phone, taking another order.
We’ll get this out to ya soon as we can, she says.