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.