I have copied and pasted the article below before it disappears and the NYT asks to be paid to see it.
The Pizza Patron pizza chain operates in my back yard here in the Dallas area, where the immigration issue is at a fever pitch. I go to Mexico a few times a year and I invariably come back with pesos. I checked this afternoon, and I have about 125 pesos, or about $10 at the conversion rate used by Pizza Patron. I may use my pesos to try out their pizza. Their pizza has long been targeted to Hispanics, who now make up a sizable percent of the Texas population.
Here's the article:
DALLAS, Jan. 14 — Jose Ramirez and two friends stopped by a Pizza Patrón here after work on Thursday for a carry-out dinner. Mr. Ramirez, his jeans dusted with white chalk from the construction site, ordered a Hawaiian and La Patrona — a large with the works.
The pies cost him almost 220 big ones. Pesos, that is.
Mr. Ramirez, 20, received his change in American coins and said he liked the chain’s new “Pizza por Pesos” promotion. He had been in the United States for 15 days — his home is in Guanajuato, Mexico — and he wanted to spend the last of his Mexican currency.
“I just arrived,” he said in Spanish, smiling nervously. “It’s my first time here.”
The employees at this Pizza Patrón in East Dallas, one of 59 in five Southwestern and Western states, were still puzzling over the conversion rates almost a week after the chain started accepting peso bills on Jan. 8.
But the promotion has already hit a nerve in the nationwide immigration debate. The company’s Dallas headquarters received about 1,000 e-mail messages on Thursday alone. Some were supportive, but many called the idea unpatriotic, with messages like, “If you want to accept the peso, go to Mexico!” There were even a few death threats.
Antonio Swad, president and founder of Pizza Patrón, said he was surprised by the outcry.
“I certainly wasn’t expecting ‘pizza for pesos’ to become a touchstone for the immigration issue,” Mr. Swad said. It was nothing more than an effort to “reinforce our brand promise to be the premier Latino pizza chain,” he said. “We’re businessmen.”
“The Latino population is significant and it’s important,” Mr. Swad continued. “It’s here to stay. The United States is not going to be like it used to be; it’s going to be different, and it has an opportunity to be better.”
Mr. Swad, who is Italian-Lebanese and was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio, did not speak Spanish when he opened his first take-out pizzeria in Dallas in 1986. But he saw a business opportunity in the growing Latino minority in his neighborhood, and the way his customers struggled to order in English.
A year later he changed the name from Pizza Pizza to Pizza Patrón, hired bilingual staff members and added items like La Mexicana, a pizza that includes spicy chorizo sausage and jalapeños.
Pizza Patrón became a franchise in 2003, and same-store sales were up more than 34 percent in the most recent quarter compared with last year, Mr. Swad said.
From 10 to 15 percent of business at his five Dallas pizzerias has been in pesos, he said. Despite the criticism, he said he would continue the promotion until the end of February as planned.
Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies in Washington, a group that seeks to limit immigration, said he was concerned that Hispanics could create a parallel mainstream in the United States.
“It’s a trivial example, but Hispanics now have their own pizza chain,” Mr. Krikorian said. “It’s a consequence of having too many people arrive from a single foreign culture, and may well reflect a kind of cultural secession.”
John Echeveste, a co-founder of the Hispanic Public Relations Association, said he did not see the peso drive as a major business trend, but he did consider it a symbolic acknowledgment of the importance of the large and growing Hispanic market.
“Mexicans are spending U.S. dollars on their side of the border and vice versa,” Mr. Echeveste said. “It works both ways. From a marketing perspective you don’t really look at whether those people are illegal or not, you look at whether they have money.”
Brent A. Wilkes, national executive director for the League of United Latin American Citizens, an advocacy group, said the reaction of the e-mailers to the pizza promotion disturbed him.
“No one is trying to dis the U.S. dollar or offend U.S. citizens,” Mr. Wilkes said. “It’s time that the vast majority of Americans stand up and say, ‘This is hate speech; it should not be tolerated.’ ”
The Pizza Patrón on Ross Avenue in East Dallas is a few doors down from Casa Latina Cassettes and CD’s and a Fiesta supermarket. Accordion music from the Mexicana satellite radio station blares from tinny speakers above the door.
“They’ve been bringing in the old, old, old kinds of pesos,” said Jose Palacios, 31, the store’s general manager.
Those out-of-circulation bills are not accepted, and banks offer a slightly better rate than the chain’s set price of 12 pesos to the dollar.
“It’s for convenience,” Mr. Palacios said. “Most of Mexico’s people, they go in December to Mexico to celebrate and be with family. They come back and say, ‘Oh, I’ve got 200 pesos; what do I do with it?’ ”
Just before 8 p.m., the phone rang with another boycott announcement. “Next thing you know, we’re going to be raising Mexico’s flag,” the caller complained.
Jorge Delgado and Derek Byerly, surgical support technicians dressed in hospital scrubs, stopped by on their dinner break.
“I’m going to buy it with pesos,” joked Mr. Delgado, 20, as he opened the door. He and Mr. Byerly, 27, who is black, like to tease each other about racial stereotypes, he said.
But like almost all Pizza Patrón customers, Mr. Delgado paid with dollars.
The next day, Juan Rodriguez, a maintenance worker, picked up a pepperoni and mushroom pizza for lunch.
“I can pay with pesos?” he asked in Spanish.
Mr. Rodriguez, 43, had been to Mexico two weeks ago. “I’m going to Mexico a lot of times; it’s better for me,” he said of the peso promotion, switching to English. He said he did not understand the controversy: “I don’t know what is the problem.”