14 August 2015

Eating Right Coast Pizza in Greeley

Greeley, Colorado has slowly been trying to become a real, grown-up town.  We've got a population of about 100,000, a gang problem, and crappy schools--how much more urban can you get?  The Downtown Development Authority has also been trying to fill all of those charming brick storefronts that have remained empty for so many years.  Enter a new brewery (WeldWerks, the only place to go for local brew), a tap house sporting 60 taps of Colorado proud beer (Brix), and now, Right Coast Pizza.

The downtown Greeley location is Right Coast's second, following their flagship restaurant in Wheat Ridge, in suburban Denver.  They specialize in New Jersey style pizza, which seems to be exactly the same as New York Style--thin, floppy crust that's best eaten folded.  When I went to the grand opening a few weeks ago, they were giving out free Tivoli lager (better than free Coke!), but an hour after the party was supposed to start, they had already run out of pizza crust, so there was nothing to eat.  Rookie mistake, except it's their second store.  Perhaps they underestimated Greeley folks' capacity for free pizza and beer. 

So, I was happy to see the place already starting to fill up at 5:30pm a couple of weeks ago.  Service was very attentive (more on that later) and pizza came out promptly.  There was some confusion about who had ordered which beer when they came to the table, which the waitress explained by confessing she "wasn't a beer person" (that was also her explanation for her ignorance over the item on the menu titled "hopped coffee", which I'd still love to see, but they were out). But the pizza came out very quickly, and it was hot and crisp.  

We got an Elmer, which is a white pizza with spinach, bacon, and tomato slices. It was good.  The crust was lightly charred on the underside, blonde but perfectly crisp above. It was really garlicky, tomatoes and spinach were fresh, and the finely chopped bacon was crisp and plentiful.  There was just enough grease to seem like proper pizza.  At $15 for a 14" (medium), it wasn't exactly grungy college food, either. 

Let's talk about the service, because I find it to be a constant, and very puzzling, problem in Greeley.  It's almost like there's some kind of central training office for wait staff in this town being run by a clown. Literally a clown.  There were way too many people working on a Thursday late afternoon, and so they were all hovering pathetically, looking for things to do.  That's a problem with management's decisions, though I have no idea who that would have been, because every staff person in sight could have all been members of the same sorority.

It was a little bit awkward when the hostess walked us so very slowly to our table while trying to make inaudible small talk over our shoulder and asking us how our day was going.  She later came over repeatedly to make sure there weren't any spare beer menus laying around, which she seemed very eager to collect immediately after the first order was placed.  (PS--this is a bad business move!  Wouldn't you sell more beer if we could see your fabulous, long list of taps all night?)

Then came our sweet, though unapologetically ignorant, server.  She couldn't answer any questions about the drinks, but she was certainly chatty.  After we had ordered our pizza and were working on our beers, she actually came over to ask what we had done all day (Again with this? Why does everyone ask me this now? Starbucks has not been a good influence on the service industry.). When I (not) jokingly said that was pretty personal, she proceeded to tell us about the four fillings she got at the dentist that day, including describing the effects of the novocaine as it wore off. It went on and on, and I think it's fair to say we were all avoiding her eye contact by the end, but she continued unperturbed.  When she brought the pizza after her speech, she complained that it was her favorite pizza and that now she was hungry from having to bringing it to us. 

This is a trend I have noticed, particularly in the downtown area--young, socially awkward girls who don't know much about the products they are serving try to make up for their lack of expertise by chatting us up, far too long and too in-depth, in order to make a personal connection.  I don't know how my fellow patrons feel about this; perhaps they find it delightful.  I can handle a little chit-chat, but at some point I feel obligated to entertain them, and that's too much pressure.  Either Greeley restaurants need to start hanging "extroverts only" signs on their doors, or they need to monitor their young, inexperienced wait staff more and tell them when to cool it on the BSing with the customers. 

This is the big problem right now with Right Coast, and if they can correct it, it'll be a great restaurant downtown.  They seem to know what they're doing in the kitchen, but more oversight and thorough training in the front of the house is definitely needed right now. I'm not sure if the owners are dividing their time evenly enough between their established Wheat Ridge location and their fledgling Greeley spot, but if not, it would be worth the investment to hang out a little more up here for a while. 

But I will repeat, the pizza was good.