Thank you for submitting your business plan (“Pandora’s Cold Pizza, LLC”). With its stream-of-consciousness style and general flouting of accepted conventions of grammar, punctuation, and spelling, your application stands out as one of the most unique restaurant proposals we have ever received. However, at this time, we have chosen to fund a more viable concept.
Your vision, as we understand it–that section rambled on for quite a bit–is to order hot pies from various pizzerias, chill them to a suitable internal temperature, then sell them out of the ice-lined trunk of your Honda Accord to the drunks emerging from bars along University Avenue. While we are intrigued by your outside-the-box thinking and commitment to lean startup principles, the legal ramifications of your strategy gave us considerable pause. You may not realize that, because you are essentially repackaging the intellectual property of Domino’s, Papa John’s, and Little Caesar’s, you are opening yourself up to a host of trademark infringement issues. Best of luck serving as your own counsel in these matters.
We are likewise concerned that your target market is too broad. Initially, you identify your primary customer base as “college students” (you refer to cold pizza as “the collegiate breakfast of champions”). Then, two paragraphs later, you expand your focus to “drunk/hungover people” (“cold pizza is your drunk self’s gift to your hungover self”). Finally, you cast aside any notion of market segmentation and announce that your product is aimed at “everybody”, because (and we quote) “everybody loves cold pizza”. But have you considered that the relationship between a customer and cold pizza–and to leftovers in general–is a marriage of convenience? That we don’t eat cold pizza because we crave it, but simply because it’s there?
This is not to say that your idea is completely without merit. To wit: one evening a group of us stumbled out of Bobbleheads after downing several pitchers of cheap beer and came upon your little chuckwagon. You were standing next to your open trunk, which you’d lined with an old shower curtain to contain the ice-water slurry that was cooling your product, and even though business had obviously been slow —it was late July, and the university students weren’t back in town yet–you greeted us with a cheery smile (great customer service!) and asked if we’d like a free sample.
Maybe all the booze was affecting our palates, but we truly couldn’t remember the last time we’d had such an excellent meal. Your pizza’s bread and crust had gained a chewy sweetness, and its cheese and toppings had congealed into a delectable umami cookie, bursting with flavor. We ordered slice after slice, as visions of a leftover empire danced through our heads: brick and mortar stores selling more than just cold pizza, but also soggy french fries, clumpy fettuccine, and oxidized guacamole. Throw in a raw cookie dough bakery and we’d be absolutely printing money.
Unfortunately, these dreams were derailed over the course of a miserable weekend spent clinging for dear life to our toilets as waves of violent vomiting drained every electrolyte from our bodies. Here’s the thing about leftovers: they’re old food. Are you aware the FDA recommends that any perishable items be thrown out after four days? Let this serve as an instructive reminder that nothing lasts forever, not even cold pizza. But as much as we’d love to report you to the authorities, we only have ourselves to blame. Nobody put a gun to our heads and ordered us to scarf down bacteria-ridden table scraps some stranger was selling out of the trunk of their car on a hot summer evening. And indeed, what other dish is more emblematic of impaired judgment and poor decision making? Cold pizza is the official food of misspelled tattoos, one-night stands, and collect calls from county jail. It’s what you eat when you’re asking yourself where you parked your car, how you got those bruises, or who peed in your closet. It’s what you hunger for on wild nights and whimpering morning-afters, when you are such a faint shadow of yourself you barely register as human. Our marketing wizards have worked wonders in the past. But salvaging a product with so much built-in reputational risk would be too tall an order.
We wish you success in all your future efforts. Because we admire your chutzpah, we have enclosed a gift card to our Michelin-rated steakhouse, located only two blocks from where you park your Honda. We recommend the bone-in black angus ribeye–at eighteen ounces, it’s a meal and a half. If you don’t finish, just take the rest to-go. Your waiter will bring it out to you in one of our signature doggy bags, a little ball of aluminum foil shaped like a swan.
John Waddy Bullion’s fiction has appeared previously in the Texas Review, Five Quarterly, Cowboy Jamboree, and Revolution John. He tweets at @jonwaddy where he communicates almost exclusively in Philip Rivers GIFs.