By Janet Tappin Coelho
A pizza parlour has added a new twist to fast food delivery – it’s selling the take-away snack to motorists stuck in rush hour traffic.
Every weekday between 4pm to 8pm vendors from Skillus Classic Restaurant in Recife, north east Brazil, wait for the traffic lights outside the eatery to turn red then they race between the lanes of stationery vehicles to sell Mozzarellas and Pepperonis boxed up and ready to eat.
Owner of the pizzeria, Jair Konrad, is behind the innovative move to take advantage of peak time traffic to develop the restaurant’s fast food service.
The 21-year-old entrepreneur said: “We’re making sure hungry commuters are kept on the go with their bellies full.
“And it’s very quick. It takes just three minutes for the customer to place their order and get their hot meal delivered to their car window before the lights change.”
With a sign board pinned to their back promoting ‘Pizza Na Hora’ or fresh ready-to-go pizza the pizza peddlers announce their unique service as loud as they can above the noise of the stationery engines.
They carry a credit card machine attached to their waistcoat, ketchup along with other condiments and napkins tucked into their apron pocket, change clutched in one hand and the popular convenience meal in cardboard boxes balanced in the other.
A honk of a horn or a shout from a car window signals interest and the countdown begins as the fast food hustlers have between one to three minutes to close a sale before the lights turn green.
Jair, who runs the family business, said: “The road in front of our restaurant has a lot of congestion during weekday evenings as commuters return home from work.
“A few months ago, it dawned on me that motorists were spending between 10 to 15 minutes waiting to get through the lights.
“I could see customers looking hungrily over at our parlour as they crawled past and realised there was enough time to make and sell them a pizza. Here was an untapped market sitting at the lights right before my eyes.”
The rush hour delivery service operates on the simple premise of supply and demand.
As soon as the attendant gets an order, they radio the request to a supervisor in the restaurant who passes on the customer’s choice to the pizzaiolos producing the mouth-watering meal.
On average it takes three minutes for a medium-sized pizza to be prepared, baked and rushed hot from the stone ovens into the hands of the waiting client who continues their journey with a full belly.
To keep pizzas sales flowing smoothly, the vendors also walk with a fresh supply of hot snacks which can be bought straight away.
Demand is so high that stock has to be continuously replenished to keep up.
Sales attendant, Vitor dos Santos, who moves swiftly between the stopped cars selling pizzas and earning commission for every unit sold, revealed it’s not difficult to sell the tasty stuff.
He said: “Pizza literally sells itself, doesn’t it. The smell, the taste, everybody likes pizza, who doesn’t?
“Of course, the job is hard like any other work. You have to run and be quick to keep up with the demand and not disappoint customers.
“It can be dangerous sometimes because you have to keep an eye out for motorbikes zipping through the middle of the lanes and drivers moving off as the lights change.
“But people are generally considerate. It’s also hot work when the sun is high in the sky. But I enjoy it.”
Motorists were full of praise for the service.
Gustavo Lopes, a hotel manager heading home with this wife who works in catering, said: “This is the first time I’ve bought a pizza while in a traffic jam.
“It was a spur of the moment decision because we’re really hungry and the idea of not having to cook when we get home is a relief.
“I’ll definitely be buying again as the service was fast and convenient.”
Ana Paula Torres, a saleswoman, said: “I’ve got an hour’s drive home and this is a brilliant idea because I don’t have the fuss of getting out of the car to order and to wait for a meal.
“I don’t even have to join another drive-through queue. I’m already in a queue anyway to get through the lights and I can buy it sitting right where I am,” she added with a laugh.
Jair said: “At the moment we only sell two medium-sized flavours, mozzarella for 15 reais (£4) and pepperoni for 20 reais (£5).
“We’ve kept it simple to ensure our service is fast and easy, so we meet demand and expectations. We’re selling around 200 pizzas a night to traffic jam customers.
“My plan is to increase sales to 500 a day with a choice of more flavours and more sales points at other traffic lights around the city,” he said.