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The Pizza Inn: Brian Schropp on Cuisine

September 10, 2015 Leave a comment Go to comments
Brian Schropp on Cuisine

Brian Schropp on Cuisine

Yes, it was that time of year again for the annual ‘Schropp Family Vacation’. A big bonding experience not only for my immediate loved ones but for all my uncles, aunts and cousins to come together and enjoy the last heated rays of Lankville summertime before the cold, unforgiving northern suburban fall sets in. Beautiful lush beach houses are rented on the northern outskirts shoreline for a whole exciting week of merriment, games and cook outs. I am, of course, dropped off for my own ‘personal fun time vacation’ so my family can really enjoy themselves and not have to worry about me ruining their “one shot of real happiness” for the summer. My usual place of choice is ‘The Pizza Inn’ which is conveniently located on Highway 62 right on the way to the shoreline. I was especially happy since word had gotten to them that the play I am associated with– ‘Ektar- Pizza Warrior’ is the highest grossing pizza-related stage play ever produced in Lankville.

The lovely "Pizza Inn" off Highway 62.

The lovely “Pizza Inn” off Highway 62.

Even though credit needs to be given to Lizzie Starlight and Scott (my manager at ‘The Pizza-A-Round’) for coming up with the final product, I feel like my original script ‘Eggs And Bacon On The Prairie’ was the catalyst to make it all happen. The play has generated enough money in one week that there is already talk of building another Pondicherry Performance Center right on top of the existing one. Liz and Scott are now writing two follow-up plays ‘Ektar And The Cry For Pepperoni’ and ‘Ektar -The Eternal Pizza Champion’ which will undoubtedly be great successes.

I knew that only good things would await me at the inn. It seemed like anything dealing with pizza was the current hot trend!! My family was equally excited to start their own vacation- so much in fact that my folks didn’t even fully stop the minivan while pulling in the parking lot to drop me off. I stumbled out while the vehicle was in a slow roll with my luggage being thrown behind me. The screech of the wheels followed by a quick acceleration meant I was on my own.

Richmond St. Dunesberry

Richmond St. Dunesberry

Picking up my stuff, I stopped to take in how beautiful the scene was before me. An almost clear blue sky in the backdrop with the wonderful Inn before me and that whimsical, delightful sign in front which I get all loud and giddy about in the car when I see it. Once inside, I was greeted by none other than the owner of ‘The Pizza Inn’ himself, Richmond St. Dunesberry. He was. of course, in his classic ‘tighty whities’ since he doesn’t wear any clothes. This might throw customers off at first but once you get to know the man you find out he really is quite charming and his near-nudity is just a little ‘personality quirk’. In fact, there have been many times I’ve stayed there, me in my boxer shorts and St. Dunesberry in his whites, talking about the pizza trade and all it’s delights. I have never felt uncomfortable!! He was having some of his famous ‘double pepperoni’ flavored tea which he brews himself and is quite popular.

He was very pleasant in greeting me but I could tell something wasn’t quite right. The cup of tea was shaking slightly in his hand.

“Is something wrong Richmond?” I asked. “There isn’t anything wrong with the ‘Black Olive’ room?” That was my favorite room to stay in and I book it often.

“No-no,” he replied, smiling nervously and then looking around furtively to see if anybody was listening. “Why don’t we go into my office.”

He closed the office door behind me and then went about preparing a cup of ‘double pepperoni’ tea for me– always the gentlemen (and the cup was first rate!!). I waited sipping the fine brew while he took his time to collect himself. “Don’t know where to begin, things have changed so much in the past few days–the past few hours even—.”

“Is it financial trouble? You know the Pondicherry Performance Center was having trouble before Ektar–”

“That damn play!!!” Richmond threw his cup across the room, shattering it completely. The tea ran slowly down the wall.

“The play is really on fire right now, wouldn’t that bring more attention to this place? Pizza is the hottest thing in the media right now–.”

Richmond looked at the floor. “How do I start?” he muttered, holding his forehead. He took a few deep breaths before speaking again. “Bri, we’ve talked many times about the pizza trade, a great deal in fact. But there is a whole other side which is rarely known or even talked about. The metaphysical side, the occult side—-.”

There was a loud crash from somewhere in the reception area,  followed by a few screams and the pounding of footsteps.

“Oh dear- oh dear.” Dunesberry got up shaking like a leaf. “Stay in here. DO NOT open this door until I come back.”

He quickly exited. What was up? An upset customer perhaps? But no, who could be upset with the Pizza Inn? I thought quickly. I saw on my way in that the lunch buffet had gone up a dollar since I was last here, maybe that was it? I poured myself some more tea and helped myself to a can of ‘Western Lankville Canned Sausages’ already opened on his desk and then settled back in my chair. I heard some yelling, a few more screams (one may have been Dunesberry) and more heavy footsteps. After a few minutes the ruckus seemed to stop from the area around the office but I could hear the same commotion faintly in other parts of the Inn.

"The Black Olive Room"- my favorite!

“The Black Olive Room”- my favorite!

When was he coming back? How upset could a customer be? Even the lights flicked off and on a few moments! After what seemed like an eternity (and after polishing off the can of sausages) I decided to see what was up.

The reception desk was eerily quiet. “Hello-hello?” I walked slowly around the desk and my eyes widened; Richmond’s underwear was laying on the floor drenched in blood. My mind filled with panic and horror for a brief moment until I found a pen to pick up the whities. Was this real blood? Come on now-it couldn’t be!  What was really going on hit me all at once. A smile came across my face, this was a murder mystery sorta thing that the Inn was putting on for the weekend!

I walked towards the dining area proudly holding ‘the bloody undies’ with the pen. The lunch buffet was deserted like the front expect it was a lot more messy. Tables littered with food. sauces all over the floors and walls, these folks were going full out!!

They gave me with a slight scare when a guy ran in from the kitchens, his shirt slightly torn and with a wild look in his eye. I held up the underwear with the pen. “Hey, are we supposed to guess who ‘killed’ Richmond? Will there be a couple of people to choose from?”

“WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT?!! WE GOTTA GET OUT OF HERE, THEY’RE COMING BACK THIS WAY!!”

I chuckled. “So there is more than one killer?”

“MY FAMILY WAS JUST HERE TO ENJOY THE BUFFET-IT HAPPENED SO SUDDENLY-THEY CAME RUNNING IN AND ATTACKED EVERYONE-THEY WERE IN ROBES-THEY TOOK MY WIFE AND DAUGHTER-SO SWEET GOD-OH SWEET GOD-.”

The kitchen doors flew open again and out spilled more terrified people in various states of undress. Right on their heels ‘the others’ came in, people dressed in robes with hoods covering their faces. The robes were white with little pizza slices printed all over them!!  So, this wasn’t a murder mystery game after all, it was one of those survival-style games you pay for- what a great idea!! I watched as the people in robes quickly snatched the screaming ‘victims’, they sure weren’t making it easy!

I had a serious question to ask the panic-stricken guy who was desperately clinging to my arm. “Now, I had no idea this was going on when I booked my room, will I be charged for this?”

“Help meeeeeeee-.”

They dragged him away before he could answer my question. I tried asking one of the hooded ones running by if I was going to be charged extra for this. He turned to face me, I was quite impressed with the contacts they were using to make their eyes glow. He grabbed my wrist but soon enough another one was there shaking his head. “Not him,” he said in some unearthly voice, how did they do that?

To tell you the truth. I really didn’t sign up for this stuff. Since I was on vacation I was ready to settle down for a nice afternoon nap. I scooped up some ravioli which was still in a pan (not on the floor) and headed to lay down in my ‘Black Olive’ room. To keep in the spirit of the game, I lightly jogged with my things and gave a happy little frightful yell whenever I passed someone in the hallway running away from their robed predators. I have to give kudos to these people for really getting into it.

Once ‘safely’ in the room I turned on the TV (with the charming fuzzy reception) settled on my bed and placing the pan of ravioli on my stomach. I drifted off to the occasional thump and scream happening somewhere around me.

I must have been working harder the days before my vacation than I realized. I slept straight through until next morning. As I was showering and getting ready for the day I hoped the whole survival game was over, at least for now. I was really looking forward to the intercontinental pizza breakfast and wanted to enjoy it in peace. It was to my amazement that I found the whole entire ‘Pizza Inn’ empty, not a soul in sight. Not only that but upon closer inspection, I found everything cleaned and in order like no one had been here for months. What was I supposed to do? It had been a good sixteen hours since I had eaten last. I never knew hunger pains could feel so deep!! Whatever this game was, St. Dunesberry took everybody to play the next stage somewhere else. I could not wait around for anyone to get back so I had to go into the massive empty kitchen area and try to make something on my own.

Not the greatest pie ever made.

Not the greatest pie ever made.

I turned on the giant ovens to warm up while I looked around for ingredients. I was feeling quite faint and had serious rumbles stopping me in my tracks a few times. As you may know from some of my past articles, I’m not really in charge of making pizzas at my job– it’s only a skill I’m just starting to learn. I tried to channel everything I knew from watching the greats, like Chet Cameron, to make a pizza pie.

By this stage I was becoming quite delirious and just ran on instinct more than anything. Before I knew it, I was at a table in this huge empty room looking down at what I had created. Probably not the best pie ever made but it would certainly do for now.

It was a VERY weird feeling sitting there eating alone, hearing my smacking echo against the walls. After filling up, I took another look around to see if I could find anyone. Without success I headed back to the kitchens to prepare a big jug of strawberry milk to take with me. I found St. Dunesberry’s keys in his office, locked up the ‘Pizza Inn’ and started the long walk towards the northern shoreline. Of course, by the time I found my family and relatives the fun of the summer had to stop. No one believed my story and when my dad, myself, and local shoreline authorities went back, the place was open again!! There was a brand new manager in there who said that Richmond sold the business to him months ago and had no recall of me being there the day before!!

Well, gentle readers I am still trying to work this mess out. I’m about sixty percent sure I didn’t make this up (no Mom I did not have too much strawberry milk). Once I have some real answers for you guys I will let you know. Until next time please keep your mind and mouth open to new ideas, Happy Eating!!-Bri

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