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How Mangia Chicago Stuffed Pizza became a Violet Crown sponsor by Steve James

A Short History of Mangia Chicago Stuffed Pizza and the Violet Crown Sports Association

In February of 1986 my business partner and I attended the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Chicago. One night we ate dinner at a little pizza place called Bacino's Stuffed Pizza. It was the first time I had ever eaten the Chicago style "stuffed" pizza and it was fantastic. So, when we attended the AAAS meeting in February, 1987, we again ate at Bacino's. Now I'm not very memorable but my business partner at the time certainly was. He was 6'3", gray hair down to his shoulders, clean shaven except for a grey goatee and he wore a Sherlock Holmes winter cape and deerstalker wool cap. After we were seated, a fellow came up to us and asked if we had been there the previous year. We said, "Yes." He said he recognized my business partner and thought we sounded like we were from Texas. He then asked if we were from Austin. Again, we said, "Yes." He introduced himself as the manager of Bacino's and asked us if we minded chatting with him about Austin because he was planning on moving to Austin and open a pizza restaurant. We talked for a few minutes and he gave me his business card and said, "Thank you." And so I met Jeff Sayers. After we finished our dinner, I asked the waiter for the check and he said that it had been taken care of. Jeff has always been a great guy.

After we returned to Austin, I put his business card in my card file and promptly forgot about it. Fast forward to 1990 and Violet Crown. We were looking for sponsors, as usual. While on a ride, Ted Dunbar mentioned to me that he had eaten a fantastic Chicago stuffed pizza recently at a place called Mangia Pizza and he thought they might be a good sponsor. Somewhere in the back of my mind a neuron or two got together and the memory of the pizza place in Chicago appeared. I went home and there in my card file was Jeff Sayers' card. I don't remember all of the details and you don't want to read them anyway so suffice it to say that I put together a package about the benefits of Mangia sponsoring VC and arranged a meeting with Jeff. I think he recognized me when I walked into the restaurant and he definitely remembered our meeting in Chicago when I pulled out his Bacino's card and showed it to him. We chatted for a while and easily came to a deal for Mangia to sponsor VC. That was in the fall of 1990, I believe, because in the February 1991 issue of Violet Crown News, David Orr in his State of the Club Address states, "MANGIA'S CHICAGO STUFFED PIZZA on San Antonio at 17th St is our newest sponsor." We held our February club meeting and jersey release party there on February 25th and we all saw our new sponsor's logo on the back of our 1991 jersey. At that time, we only had two sponsors and Gage Furniture got the Jersey front.

Anyway, Jeff and Mangia Chicago Stuffed Pizza have been a valued and loyal sponsor for 22 years. As those of you who regularly attend the monthly VC meeting know, I very seldom brave MoPac at that time of day to attend. However, about a week before Mangia closed, my wife and I ate lunch there. When we walked in the door, Jeff greeted us and although I had not seen him in several years he recognized me. He seated us and came over a little later for a chat. I wished him well in his endeavors. I was saddened to see what happened the next week but I know Jeff will open a new and equally great restaurant, which I will happily frequent -- providing it is south of the river. Hey, I'm getting old and really don't like to drive on MoPac. But every once in a while I really do get a craving to mangia a Chicago Stuffed Pizza so I'll go where ever it is. By the way, for those of you who don't speak Italian, "mangia" simply means "eat."