Author Topic: Garcia's Pizza  (Read 97213 times)

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Offline Hamir the Hermit

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Re: Garcia's Pizza
« Reply #100 on: January 15, 2010, 02:04:50 AM »
Actually...I'd say Red Bandana was pretty spot on with his remarks.  The disdain Ralph felt towards his employees was pretty obvious, and his prediliction for cheapness (except when it came to himself) legendary.  I butted heads with upper management over the way employees were treated many times, and was treated rather unfairly myself in terms of being passed over for promotion and getting raises.  I still remember how they fired our Store Manager just before bonuses were due to avoid having to pay him a substantial bonus which he well deserved.  As well, when I gave my two week notice, I was immediately terminated.  Since I was a full time employee I was entitled, by Illinois law, to two week's severance pay.  I was unaware of this fact at the time, being unversed in employment law.  Since Garcia's was operating around 18 restaurants at that time with quite a lot of employees, I don't think it unreasonable to assume they WERE aware of this requirement.  I never did see that two week's of pay. 
I met Ralph a number of times when he came into our store on Green Street, yet he never recognized me when I met him on the street a few times.  Joe, on the other hand, was a very affable fellow who always treated employees with respect, from what I saw.  I had met Joe only a handful of times, certainly a lot less than I'd met Ralph, and yet two years after I'd quit Garcia's I ran into him at the warehouse when visiting a friend there; he recognized me instantly.  I always thought it a shame Joe didn't have more influence in the running of things, as I think he would have injected a more humanist influence into the business, and it would have maintained a long-term success.

Also, a short story about about the Lincoln Avenue Mansion.  My first summer working at Green street we had a pretty wild crew.  We were, as the kids say today, "off the hook."  We were really working a skeleton crew that summer, and it was not unusual for the assistant managers to work as employees on nights when we were understaffed.  One night two of the AMs were working under the store manager, and it was a pretty busy night, staffed with some of the more exuberant members of the crew.  After closing, whilst nursing some beers, they hatched what probably sounded like a swell idea at the time.  They all headed over to the Mansion to do some impromptu early morning skinny dipping in the pool...but not before calling up those of us they thought would likely to be up for such shenanigans.  Sadly, that was the one Friday night I did not work, and also was so knackered I went to bed early, so I slept through the call.  I was regaled with the tale the next morning and how it all ended with the cops showing up because of a noise complaint and how they all got chased off.  Well, it was all great fun until the next day when the entire managerial staff got sacked* except for two of the AMs who had alibis and therefore couldn't possibly have been involved.  I will say, Ralph's distaste of doing any actual work did benefit the workers in this case, because their initial plan of action was to dismiss the entire crew...but then that would mean Ralph, Joe, Ed Wilhite, and any other senior management they could scrap up would have to work the store for the many weeks it would take to hire and train a brand new crew.
*This sacking was a different manager than the one mentioned earlier in the note.  It seems Green Street was not kind to it's managers.. I can only recall Dave Durham going on to greener pastures within the Garcia's organization, as he transferred over to open the Columbus, Ohio store.


Offline EdgeOfDetroit

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Re: Garcia's Pizza
« Reply #101 on: February 23, 2010, 05:48:28 PM »
I worked at the West Lafayette (just off Purdue's campus) location for over four years, and went from regular customer, to employee, to shift manager, to eventually store manager during my stay there.

The one thing that I didn't see mentioned in the recipe for deep dish was the pins (3-4 of them) inserted into the middle of the pizza while its cooking.  That is important to distribute heat inside the pie and get the middle to cook properly.  That also allows you to cook it hotter and faster.  Whenever an employee would forget the pins (they were ~5-6 inches long, about 3/16-1/4 inch thick, aluminum) invariably the outside of the pie looked done but inside the cheese wasn't fully melted.

Like most people Ralph and Joe were shades of grey, not black and white good and evil.  On one hand, R&J left my store alone and let us get work done.  We were always told we were one of the best stores as far as money went.  Nonetheless, they cheaped out on a lot of things that made Garcia's special, and that was reflected in declining business that eventually got the best of them.  My location was rather large, with two levels and a lot of seating.  There was a decent amount of overhead that made the location inefficient to run if sales were low.  The lower sales because, the more R&J had to squeeze the belt and forced them to make decisions that limited sales even more.  It basically snowballed on them.

One of the biggest problems was when they switched away from letting the stores make their own dough to making it centrally and shipping it out once a week.  They started doing that around the end of 94 and start of 95.  After that the the thick crust was called "par-baked" as I recall, and that literally meant that it was cooked part-way before frozen and shipped to the stores, where it was thawed a day or two before it would be used.  Unfortunately, this pizza didn't quite taste the same as before, and business decreased every year after they did that.

After I'd worked at my location for a few months, they fired the GM and brought a new guy in, Charlie Hall.  Charlie was a great guy and made a lot of good decisions, but one of his worst decisions IMO was his crusade against our crushed ice machine.  The soft drinks at Garcia's were better than anywhere else because of the ice we used... we had crushed ice instead of ice cubes.  This was totally unique and made a huge difference in the flavor of soft drinks... almost to the level of a "frozen coke".  But Charlie knew that it cost more to make drinks using crushed ice instead of cubes, because crushed ice displaces less volume than normal cubes.  So he got rid of the crushed ice machine, and a lot of our regular customers stopped coming back or came less often because of it.

Two store managers and around three years later, it was my turn at the helm of the store.  I only took the job if R&J would fix one thing that I thought was a glaring weakness... for some reason which I don't recall our sign had to come down, and for years R&J never replaced it with a good sign.  I said "I'll take 5k less money in salary if you guys take that money and put up a real sign before the end of the year".  Well they tried to get away with paying me less but not following through on the sign... I had to play hard ball and eventually had to threaten to resign, when they relented and slapped together a sign.  Unfortunately the sign was a real home-made P.O.S.  I stayed on for the next semester and then moved on with my life.

The worst thing they ever did to me was when I was applying for a new job 9 months later.  They gave me an incredibly bad reference to the company that ended up hiring me.  Fortunately for me, the store manager that preceded me gave me a very good reference and explained away R&J's comments.  I seriously considered hiring one of those background check firms to entrap them saying illegal things about me, but I got the job, so no actual harm was done to me, so I didn't pursue it.  My boss for the next nine years actually told me straight up at my second interview to never use R&J as a reference again.

Ralph and Joe weren't all bad, as I said.  They flew their balloon at many Purdue football games, especially when Illinois was in town, but at many other games as well, because Joe Tiller, Drew Brees and the Boilers were good and Illinois was real bad.  The most infamous of their balloon flights had to be the time when, at a Purdue - Notre Dame game, they Line Of Sighted the broadcast dish, blocking the signal from getting from the ground to the satellite dish, meaning the entire world couldn't see the game except us at the Ross Aid Stadium, for a minute or so.  The store started getting angry phone calls from the TV truck swearing at them to get the damn balloon out of the way (as if anyone in the store could do anything about it)!

They also let me bring live bands to play at the store.  We had the Clayton Miller Band in there, and two of the Miller brothers would later on end up runner up on the America's Got Talent show (the harmonica kid and his older brother).  Many other bands played there, including at least one that is still playing at least 10 years later, as I just saw them at the Lafayette Brewing Company's winter warmer.

We would drink a lot of beer after hours... actually the after hours there were pretty much legendary.  R&J didn't have a problem with me putting up fliers advertising my computer business.  I also would occasionally take over half of the upstairs to hold a computer LAN party... had 20 computers up there one of those times.

Garcia's was one of those crappy jobs where if you were smart, you made of the best of it while you could.  Its a shame they aren't still around, but the owners did deserve to fail.  I think my location's last day was the end of the year 1999.  I always wondered what those ancient cash registers would do for the Y2K bug, but never found out.

Offline mrmojo1

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Re: Garcia's Pizza
« Reply #102 on: March 18, 2010, 02:57:55 AM »
I love reading all these stories!  garcias was as a chicago suburb pizza fan a surprise when my dad and I visited my older bro in lincoln hall when he was a freshman,  i think i was 10.  we slept in his dorm room, we ordered pizza, we got a garcias, the sauce was sooo sweet and delicious!  it had one of those plastic tings in the center to keep it from sticking to the box...i never saw that before.   It was completely different from anything i had.  i ended up following my bro and was there from 90-94 and loved garcias! everytime i ordered a slice or a full pizza, or their stuffed with crumbled italian sausage on top it was a treat! it was the best!  ive never tasted a sauce like theirs again.  sweet.   and bright.  they always had old can labels on the walls and at the tables, always plum tomotoes..but i have yet to replicate their sweetness.  come on people!!!  tell me their sauce?? crushed plum tomatoes...what else???  thanks in advance!  i want a slice of garshas soo bad!

Offline brownjugwaitress

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Re: Garcia's Pizza
« Reply #103 on: March 19, 2010, 12:39:16 AM »
Wow, taking a trip down memory lane I googled Flying Tomato Brothers and here I am... I was a student when Joe and Ralph opened their one-room takeout in Lando Place c. 1973. Since I lived at Lando Place I often ate a slice for dinner. It's interesting to read about the rise and fall of their empire. Sigh.

Offline homechef15

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Re: Garcia's Pizza
« Reply #104 on: July 19, 2010, 10:04:19 PM »
Hi All,

I dug out an old shirt and was reminded of Garcia's Pizza in a Pan. Curious, I did a google search and found this forum post. It was exciting to read all the comments from other Garcia's fans and how sad it was to see them go. I found my old shirt from them and decided it should go to someone who truly enjoyed their pizza and has many fond memories. If you are interested, you can find it on eBay  :)

Offline Brooklyn

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Re: Garcia's Pizza
« Reply #105 on: July 20, 2010, 08:47:46 PM »
I used to live in Bloomington Indiana as a teenager during the late 80's

I would work up an appetite playing video games at Space Port on the corner then walk to Garcia Brothers for a Slice. On special occasions I would have enough money for the Gut Buster. I also remember the crushed Ice as a "fun" way to drink my Coke with my Pizza. When my Dad asked me where I wanted to eat out I would always ask for Garcia Brothers.

I haven't been to Bloomington in 20+ years but I can remember the Garcias Pizza like it was yesterday.
Even with all the Pizza surrounding me in Brooklyn I still wish I could order a "Tomato Brothers" Pizza one more time.

2 years ago I stumbled on this thread after looking up the Garcia brothers, at the time it seemed like Cheese 2 Please was the best bet. On a trip to Chicago I drove out to Wilmington only to find that Cheese 2 Please was closed.

Red Bandanna said that the Pizza recipe came from Uno's in Chicago?
I don't know where it came from only that it seems impossible to find it as it existed many years ago.

I've never cooked a Pizza in my life so wont even fool myself into thinking that I can follow the recipe posted by wildwood to get close to my memory of the Garcias Pizza.
Its even worse reading about the existence of "emergency recipes" for the store managers that nobody managed to make a copy of!!

 
What a shame!

Offline RyDub69

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Re: Garcia's Pizza
« Reply #106 on: July 28, 2010, 01:28:50 PM »
While their pizza is good, I think they kind of get stingy with the sauce. I am the kind of guy who loves pizza heavy on the sauce. Not many places have the perfect amount of sauce on it for me.

Offline mrmojo1

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Re: Garcia's Pizza
« Reply #107 on: August 11, 2010, 12:21:28 AM »
While their pizza is good, I think they kind of get stingy with the sauce. I am the kind of guy who loves pizza heavy on the sauce. Not many places have the perfect amount of sauce on it for me.

just FYI you never ordered their stuffed then....it was glorious.  covered in sweet sauce with crumbled extra sausage....what i wouldnt give for that sauce recipe....dang!!!

Offline RyDub69

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Re: Garcia's Pizza
« Reply #108 on: August 30, 2010, 08:55:56 PM »
I actually went to the grand opening of Garcia's in Decatur, IL when it first opened right by the old house of doughnuts. Since they have moved closer to Millikin U, and now an E. Ryan Jewlers is where they were. Their cheese was great but to me it needed more sauce.

Offline jamesk144

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Re: Garcia's Pizza
« Reply #109 on: September 08, 2010, 01:48:31 AM »
just FYI you never ordered their stuffed then....it was glorious.  covered in sweet sauce with crumbled extra sausage....what i wouldnt give for that sauce recipe....dang!!!

What people's sauce recipes I've read seem to forget is some crucial points. Some points I remember from my 7Ĺ years working there ... ages ago...
  • The "sweet" ingredient in the regular sauce was beet powder.  It was both sweet and deep red in color so it added some additional oomph to the color.
  • The stuffed pizza sauce was the basic sauce plus ground pepper, ground rosemary, ground basil, and garlic powder (I think). It was a less-sweet and heartier sauce
  • The stuffed pizza had cheddar cheese and olive oil as added mandatory ingredients.
  • The sausage inside the stuffed pizza was pre-cooked. The Pan Pizza was not pre-cooked.

I don't remember the extra sausage, but we did coat the center with ground Parmesan cheese that browned in the Blodgett oven.


Offline red bandana

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Re: Garcia's Pizza
« Reply #110 on: March 01, 2011, 09:28:23 PM »
To pizzahowie,

Let's just say that even though we worked for the same two guys at roughly the same time period we had vastly different experiences.  I know several other people who with or without R&J's blessings basically copied to model and deployed it in other college towns.  Some are still going strong and others have tanked.

Lot's of things have changed in the pizza business and Garcia's was slow to change and adapt to competition yet quick to cheapen their own product.  Even when we worked for Garcia's we would go out after our shift for a pie at Papa Dell's and Papa Dell is still in business today because they still make a high quality product.  For the thin crust lovers there was a little family owned operation called Monical's which started out in Tolono and not only do they still make a great pie but they have succeeded against the same competition and same odds that Garcia was up against and today they have twice as many shops as Garcia ever had at their peak.  Nearly all of the Monical's are located in central Illinois.  The big difference between Monical's and Garcia's?  Monical's knows how to treat both their employees and their customers well.

Sorry you mistook my post as a rant.  Maybe I should take that as a compliment.  Please remember that there are dozens of far worse stories I could have told about R&J and Garcia's if I really had a personal grudge against anyone.... illegal activities, payoffs, building violations, health code violations... but I didn't.  Maybe you just don't appreciate my sense of humor in the stories I chose to tell.

If I had wanted to go on a rant... trust me I have enough material from my time at Garcia's to make Dennis Miller look like he was lost for words.  As for incorrect, misleading, or just a downright lie... sorry, I stand 100% behind the truthfulness of my prior post even though it's been over 35 years since R&J and I parted ways.  Since we never worked together or in the same shop there is no way you factually know what I experienced while I worked at Garcia's.  Maybe your experience was different or even better than mine.  If it was feel blessed, but don't attempt to deny that others may have had far different experiences and may have far different, maybe even lesser opinions of R&J than you.

Offline marntz

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Re: Garcia's Pizza
« Reply #111 on: July 02, 2011, 03:44:21 PM »
Iíve been a long time reader of the forums here and came to update about The Tomato in Denton.  Back in 2006, a Houston developer purchased the Fry St. land that The Tomato, and several other establishments sat on, planning to raze it to develop a CVS.  The developer offered for the local businesses to stay, but at a drastically increased rent that most of the prior businesses couldnít afford.  About a month after The Tomato closed, an arsonist torched the buildings.  The buildings on the lot had dated back to the 1920ís, but now the lot is still vacant, save for Cool Beans bar, which survived the fire. 

The Tomato struggled to locate a new building within their price range.  Locations near Loop 288 and amongst the Denton Square had both appeared, but none panned out.  Now, former employees of The Tomato have put forth an effort to open a new location in Sanger, TX.  By conducting fundraising concerts and selling T-Shirts, as well as dipping into personal savings, they were able to open a new restaurant. 

I have never tried the original Garciaís in IL, but the thick crust from The Tomato is what prompted me to start my adventures in Pizza making (I still havenít tried the stuffed pizza).  From what I hear, the pizza that I remember enjoying on Fry St. is the same as Garciaís from the Ď80s.  After the Denton location closed, I had to find a way to subdue the old cravings, and I think Iíve come pretty close, but I sure wish I had started a lot sooner.  Itís a lot harder to base experiments off of memory. 

After learning about the new location just the other night, I loaded the family up in the car for a road trip.  I donít know if its just my clouded memory, but I get a sneaking suspicion that what goes into these new pizzas is just not the same.  I seem to remember the crust being slightly yellow, with a moderate yeast taste, like a real smooth beer.  Crisp on the outside, and gooey underneath, it also held up surprisingly well to reheating.  The sauce was dark, sweet, and there was lots of it.  But that was not the pizza that I ate yesterday.  The crust still had a similar texture, but the flavor was almost gone.  The crust was also mostly white, with decidedly less cornmeal in the equation.  Also, the sauce was not as sweet, but spicier, more ďzingyĒ.  It has been a long time since I have had good Godfatherís, but thatís what came to mind. 

Regardless, The Tomato is still a place I will stop at when I am in that area, but I just donít know if I will be making the regular pilgrimages like I had envisioned.  From what I understand, The Tomato is still looking for a location to reopen in Denton, even so far as issuing a letter of intent to the Fry St. developer. 

It wouldnít surprise me if the changes were made for cost cutting to help support the opening of a second store.  After all, it has been almost four years that they were closed, but I can only hope that I one day find the pizza that I dream about.

They have a new site at http://www.thetomatopizza.com/

Offline lilbuddypizza

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Re: Garcia's Pizza
« Reply #112 on: July 03, 2011, 05:52:59 PM »


Sorry you mistook my post as a rant.  Maybe I should take that as a compliment.  Please remember that there are dozens of far worse stories I could have told about R&J and Garcia's if I really had a personal grudge against anyone.... illegal activities, payoffs, building violations, health code violations... but I didn't.  Maybe you just don't appreciate my sense of humor in the stories I chose to tell.

I worked at the original Papa Del's from 85-87. It was the tiny place on Wright. They used to make us take our breaks in the basement and that was very unpleasant. Lot of small "friends" crawling. The kitchen was as clean as can be for a heavily used OLD building. I mean, I ate there despite of it. I don't know exactly when they closed that location, but I wouldn't be surprised if the Health Dept. forced them. I've been to the new building and everything seems okay there. ("New"....lol. They built it 25 years ago!)

Offline Hamir the Hermit

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Re: Garcia's Pizza
« Reply #113 on: February 03, 2013, 03:22:53 AM »
God, I remember that Papa Del's on Wright.  Considering how we lived in fear of the health inspector visits on Green Street, I have no idea how that Papa Del's on Wright stayed open.  I remember often seeing roaches running on the floor.  I think they kept it dark in there on purpose.

Offline Chicago Bob

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Re: Garcia's Pizza
« Reply #114 on: February 03, 2013, 11:44:15 PM »
Better call Orkin....
"Care Free Highway...let me slip away on you"

Offline BlueDragonfly

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Re: Garcia's Pizza
« Reply #115 on: October 18, 2013, 10:08:48 PM »
For almost a decade I have watched this thread with great hope. My mother went to the university in Normal, and I often went to work with her in Bloomington. I loved Garcia's pizza, and then at one point one even opened up behind our store. I recall wonderful gooey pizza, cold soda, and a pinball machine. I loved going there with my friends, kids of other shopkeeps. I've never been able to find a pizza anywhere near as good as Garcia's. I hear it's now gone pretty downhill, but I'd like to thank the people who have posted recipes of what they can remember. I'm not much of a cook but I really want to try it out. I just have a question though--it has been mentioned, twice I think, that beet powder was present in the sauce. Any idea how much?

Offline mrmojo1

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Re: Garcia's Pizza
« Reply #116 on: November 19, 2013, 09:40:42 PM »
i tried  beet powder, i thought it added the right color, because i thought i remembered little dark flecks in the sauce but the flavor wasn't there for me....it is highly concentrated in the bottle(i could only find it in the dietary supplement section) so start small....1/8th teaspoon and go from there!  thats my take!!  let us know what you think!!

Offline dmckean44

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Re: Garcia's Pizza
« Reply #117 on: January 16, 2014, 01:20:54 PM »
There's no beet room in Garcia's sauce, it's magenta because of the tomato paste (Contadina would probably work better than Hunt's on the recipe on page4). There's no prune juice in Dr. Pepper either.
« Last Edit: January 16, 2014, 01:23:40 PM by dmckean44 »

Offline dogboy

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Re: Garcia's Pizza
« Reply #118 on: January 16, 2014, 02:21:20 PM »
Had Garcia ' s over the summer in champaign.  Was not what I remember the flying tomato pizza to be... best in bloomington is Grady's!!
But I sure do miss the good ol Garcia ' s of yesteryear.

Offline dmckean44

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Re: Garcia's Pizza
« Reply #119 on: January 17, 2014, 01:09:24 PM »
I'm going to give it a shot next week. I'll use a 12x18 cake pan and go with the following for a dough formula.

AP Flour (100%):    502.59 g  | 17.73 oz| 1.11 lbs
Water (50%):       251.3 g   | 8.86 oz | 0.55 lbs
IDY (1%):       5.03 g    | 0.18 oz | 0.01 lbs | 1.67 tsp | 0.56 tbsp
Salt (.7%):       3.52 g    | 0.12 oz | 0.01 lbs | 1.03 tsp | 0.34 tbsp
Corn Oil (5.5%):    27.64 g   | 0.98 oz | 0.06 lbs | 6.14 tsp | 2.05 tbsp
Sugar (5%):       25.13 g   | 0.89 oz | 0.06 lbs | 6.3 tsp  | 2.1 tbsp
Wheat Germ (20%):100.52 g  | 3.55 oz | 0.22 lbs | 9.63 tbsp| 0.6 cups
Cinnamon (.56%):    2.81 g    | 0.1 oz  | 0.01 lbs | 0.74 tsp | 0.25 tbsp

Total (182.76%):   918.54 g  | 32.4 oz | 2.03 lbs | TF = 0.15

I'll see what I get and adjust from there.