Latest Dish: New Pizza Buzz uses ‘icemageddon’ to drive sales

FORT WORTH – The idea first came to Richie Whitt while he was in college at the University of Texas at Arlington. “My buddies would be sitting around watching the game and the beer would run out,” said the Duncanville native. “We’d look at each other and play rock-paper-scissors to see who would go for more. We would always say if someone would just deliver beer we’d pay extra for it. I always had that in the back of my mind.”

After a lengthy sports writing career with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and a stint as a radio talk show host for 105.3 The Fan, where he was let go in April along with his afternoon drive-time co-host Greg “Greggo” Williams, Whitt finally had time to develop the beer delivery idea he’d always envisioned, but with a twist. “I realized there were companies that delivered beer but nobody delivered pizza and beer,” Whitt said. “I thought if we could make it convenient, we’d be on to something. And so far, people agree with me.”

Pizza Buzz, located at 5418 Basswood Blvd. in North Fort Worth, opened in late October and delivers hot pizza and cold beer to customers within a five-mile radius. Sold by the six-pack, bottled beers come chilled in portable coolers. Varieties include domestics and imports such as Shiner Bock, Miller Lite, Dos Equis and Corona Extra. “It’s a pretty extensive process to get a license to be able to deliver beer,” said Whitt, who underwent interviews and background checks by the Texas Alcohol and Beverage Commission as part of the licensing process.

Regarding the pizza, expect thick and doughy pies with standard toppings such as pepperoni, sausage, jalapenos and Canadian bacon. Pizza Buzz also sells wings, salads and hot cinnamon rolls, and often focuses marketing specials on the football fan. For example, the “cow buzz” special allows customers to buy one pizza and get one free after a Dallas Cowboys win. The restaurant experienced its largest sales thus far during the recent ice storm. Zealous use of social media aimed to promote the delivery service to hungry, and thirsty, area residents stranded at home.

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“First and foremost, I wanted to make sure it was doable,” said Whitt of having his drivers navigate the icy roads. “If it was doable, we thought, ‘let’s capitalize on this.’ We’ve all been stuck at home and stir crazy. You’re out of food, you’re out of patience and you can’t go to a restaurant, so we said have us bring it to you. It was our three biggest days since we’ve been open.” Whitt hopes to open two more Tarrant County locations in 2014. For customers who don’t live within the restaurant’s five-mile radius, Pizza Buzz will deliver anywhere in the Dallas-Fort Worth area with a $200 order.

PLAN NOW FOR NEW YEAR’S EVE DINING Secure a spot at one of Fort Worth’s hottest tables for New Year’s Eve. Here’s a glimpse at some of those taking reservations now. Bonnell’s (4259 Bryant Irvin Road) will offer a three-course dinner for $90 per person including a sampling of appetizers, a surf and turf main course of beef tenderloin served over chipotle cheddar grits and grilled salmon topped with crabmeat hollandaise, and a dessert sampler paired with sparkling wine.

Magnolia Cheese Co. (1251 W. Magnolia Ave.) will have two seatings for a $65 five-course dinner – one at 6 p.m. and one at 8:30 p.m. The final course will include bubbly all around, but customers can add wine pairings to each course for $25. Max’s Wine Dive (2421 W. Seventh St.) will offer an evening paying tribute to the lavish lifestyle of “The Great Gatsby” complete with a 1920s-inspired menu, special pricing on bubbles and a midnight toast. Menu items include blini and caviar, Waldorf salad, lobster thermidor, beef Wellington and individual baked Alaska. Reata’s (310 Houston St.) four-course menu includes the restaurant’s popular tenderloin tamale as a starter, choice of soup or salad, and choice of main course – tenderloin and stuffed lobster tail, rib-eye, tenderloin, Chilean sea bass or pecan-crusted lamb chops. Dessert choices include molten chocolate cake or mixed berry crème brulee. Prices per person range from $70-$75 and exclude beverages.

Sera Dining & Wine, which opened this fall in the former Sapristi space at 2418 Forest Park Blvd., recently received its TABC permit and is now serving a selection of French and Spanish wines by the bottle and glass and local brews on tap. While New Year’s Eve festivities are still being completed, customers can make reservations now.

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