While I love the old motels on Route 66, I picked a crappy one in Gallup. I love the old architecture and neons, especially the ones that say something like “It’s Cooooooooool Inside,” with graphic of a penguin or polar bear, saying they have AC. Or the ones that have a multicolored sign resembling the old NBC peacock bragging about “COLOR TV.”
Long before the days of “Yes, we have HBO”, or “Free continental breakfast and wi-fi in the rooms”. Spoiler alert: Ask very specific questions when checking in at the front desk, especially in the value chains and independents. Overall, tho, I find the independents to have better wifi than the value chains (Super 8, Motel 6, Days Inn, etc). Wouldn’t appear to me that the franchisors have standards in this category yet. In any case.
So I am in this crappy motel, in which the neon said “kitchenettes”, but neglected to say that the actual appliances had been removed some time ago, and were for sale in the parking lot. (Hey, it was dark!). So I had a kitchenette sans kitchen. A big empty room. Any further description of the motel would take us far afield from what I started to write about.
A couple times per week on these trips, I look for the local pizza, as you well know. Driving up and down the depressing streets of Gallup, and using “find” on my ATT portable communications device, I found nothing. Gallup has sure seen better days. The only recently opened business I spotted was the “Fetish Shop.” Wonder how they are doing?
Driving south on old Route 66 towards the end of town, there were the typical strip malls and national fast food chains, but I was coming up bupkus on the pizza thing. Then I spotted “Big Cheese Pizza.” I’ve been to other places with the same name, clearly not related to this one. But by all appearances, this would seem to be a franchise, but I couldn’t find a reference to that online (nor their own website), nor could I find a logo resembling theirs using Google image search. So I don’t know. That grin looks awfully close to the character on Spongebob, I think.
Basically, this Big Cheese is smallish version of Chuck E. Cheese, or Showbiz Pizza, if you remember those. Are they still around? The Big Cheese in Gallup has an ordering counter, salad bar (caution: notice says “side of ranch dressing, 54 cents”) – WTF? The menu board confused me, (not a surprise), I thought it showed that one medium pie was $23, but inquiring, I found that was the price for two, if you were going that way.
The place was fairly clean, well lit, and I would say it was almost new, except for noticing that some of the letters on the signage were worn from people’s hands pushing against them. There is a dining room, and a room just for parties, which was closed with a sign that said “for parties only.”
There is a modestly sized game room, with the usual assortment of Skee-ball, arcade, and pinball machines. There are no robot stage performances, any bouncie type things, or a pit of those pee soaked plastic balls.
I ordered an “all meat” pizza, medium, paid, and the manager said it would be about 8 minutes. I wandered into the restroom (clean), and watched kids play the games, then located myself in front of the viewing window that overlooked the pizza prep area. The cook took a dough ball and put it thru a sheeter, finishing the crust by hand.
Each handful of toppings was carefully weighed, and I noticed the sausage were pre-cooked crumbles. This is probably from Roma Distributing, one of the nation’s largest suppliers to pizzerias. I surmise this only because Roma is the supplier of Big Cheese’s condiments (peppers, cheese packets, etc). Could be wrong. I was once. Doesn’t matter.
My pie was delivered on the timeline they promised, and I took it to the car, back to the shithole motel, opened the box, and conducted my visual and tactile analysis before digging in.
Medium thickness crust, ample toppings, nice pepperoni, aroma of bacon. Crust firm enough for there to be no slippage or noticeable hang. In other words, it was pretty good for what it was. For my tastes, it had better flavor and texture than the HUT, Caesar’s, or Dominos. It was slightly more spendy than the other places, but someone has to subsidize the Skee-Ball and ranch dressing!
A-ok, Big Cheese. If you are a chain or franchise operation, please send me a link to the corporate website.