Wait… what!? John’s of Bleecker Street, the no-nonsense, West Village, pie-only stalwart known for scratched tables, initialed walls, and one of the city’s most iconic thin-crust pizzas announced some big news for pizza nerds late Tuesday afternoon on Instagram: They now deliver.
“EXTRA EXTRA! You’ve waited and waited, and now… we are officially ready to deliver John’s of Bleecker Street pie to your doorstep! You’ve heard that right – our very own service is up and running. GO to our website: johnsbrickovenpizza.com and click ‘delivery!’ 🍕🍕🍕💕💕💕”
Commenters were quick to chime in with questions about the delivery zone:
“We love you all…come to Gotham, where 🍕 is real!” John’s of Bleecker responded.
Gotham, where pizza is real indeed. Some folks were even a little more realistic, hoping for the delivery zone to extend as far as Battery Park City.
The delivery zone is from the Hudson River to Broadway and from Canal to 14th Street (for a $2 fee). They’ll deliver north to 23rd and south to Chambers Street for a $5 fee. Delivery hours are 11:30 am to 10:30 pm. Click on 9fold.me or go to John’s website and click “Delivery” at the top of the page to order.
Technically though, this isn’t John’s first venture into delivery. There were some bated articles and blog posts last year (“Are we about to witness the greatest food fight in history?” Spoiled.nyc asked) when it joined Momofuku Milk Bar, Blue Ribbon Fried Chicken, and some 350 other Manhattan restaurants by joining Amazon’s Manhattan free meal delivery service for Prime members. You have to wonder if the annual $99 Prime membership was a high bar for the kind of folks that were going to support consistent pizza delivery.
“We gave them about three months, but it really didn’t add up to anything because they were new and they didn’t have it down,” John’s general manager Pete Garcia told me. “We had a lot of non-show ups for the deliveries and stuff from their men. Didn’t work. Then, we went to Postmates, and Postmates, instead of carrying a pizza like a regular pizza should be carried, they put it under their arm like a book and all the shit would be falling out the bottom. They’d put it in their backpacks, like sideways. “I was like, ‘You guys got to be kidding me.’
“I figured, all right, let me go to Grubhub. They all charge 25% to 27% per order. Those guys. I figure they’re the best for the business. Right? They’re well-known anyway. Those guys, they didn’t even supply them with a hot bag. Every pie was going out without one, and everybody was getting them cold. They were also holding them on the sides, and the bikes, they bounced it on their handlebars. It was horrible.”
For John’s their experience with Grubhub was like tearing down a brand in 30 days that they’d spent 90 years building. In 1993, while explaining to The Times why they didn’t do slices, Madeline Castellotti, former wife of owner Pete Castellotti, also told them why they didn’t do delivery. “Years ago, you only bought the whole pie,” Mrs. Castellotti said. “So we kept that. And we don’t deliver because we don’t want people eating the pizza out of a box, where it loses its crispness and gets the taste of the cardboard.”
So these delivery efforts were like a nightmare come true. Pete said he told the company’s CEO he was done, and that Grubhub still hadn’t provided hot bags for the pizzas to be delivered in and that they’d asked for a second chance.
“He goes, ‘But I go there all the time when I’m in New York,'” Pete recounted. “I’m like, ‘If you show up now you’re gonna get a cold pizza just like your guys delivered it to our customers. Don’t show up.'”
They hired one of their servers to take over the delivery business, brought on six bike deliveryman, bought bikes, racks, hot bags, and bungee cords to hold the pizza in place.
“We have to protect the product,” said Pete. “If we could get it in under 25% what they charge, well damn, we’re doing a good job.”
“Yes, John’s of Bleecker is on the tourist rotation, but there’s a reason it’s a New York City institution. Pizza is cooked in a coal-fired brick oven the same way it’s been done there since 1929. Choose from available toppings (pepperoni, sausage, sliced meatball, garlic, onions, peppers, mushrooms, ricotta, sliced tomatoes, anchovies, black olives, basil, and roasted tomatoes), and scratch your name into the walls like droves before you. What can’t you do? Order a slice. Pies only.” — The Daily Meal’s 101 Best Pizzas in America
Pete said that they’ve been doing delivery since the very end of August. They’ve been doing business by advertising via social media and their newsletter they’ve been calling customers after deliveries to see how things arrived. That’s how they realized that they’d overlooked buying pizza box stacks (the tiny plastic pizza tables that sit in the pie center to prevent the lid from sagging into the top of the pie), which they’ve remedied.
Right now, the delivery zone is from the Hudson River to Broadway and from Canal to 14th Street (for a $2 delivery fee). They’ll deliver north to 23rd and south to Chambers Street for a $5 fee. Delivery hours start at 11:30 am and ends at 10:30 pm. John’s ask that you ignore the links on their Google profile to seamless.com and grubhub.com and instead click on 9fold.me or go to John’s own website and click on “Delivery” at the top of the page to place orders.
As for the requests for delivery to Sweden, Scotland, Los Angeles, and the like, Peter noted it seemed like they’d hit a nerve. “That or they’re all busting our balls, saying, ‘Can you delivery to Houston?”
Ah, New Yorkers. But they give it as good as they get it at John’s.
“Hey listen, you know, that’s the next project is all I’m telling them,” Pete said. “We’ll see if we can flash-freeze pizzas somehow.”
Will a break with the past to do delivery mean they may break another famous tradition (“Pies only!”)? Apparently, signs of the apocalypse like toasting at Ess-a-Bagel may still be premature. Some things in this city still are sacred.
“We just don’t have the room to deal with that, people walking in off the street for slices and walking by people that are spending 50, 60 bucks sitting down trying to have a nice dinner,” Pete explained. “The slices we’re gonna stay away from.”
John’s Pizzeria of Bleecker Street
278 Bleecker Street (between 6th & 7th Ave.)
New York, NY 10014
Delivery (*NEW*): Hudson River to Broadway and Canal to 14th Street ($2), north to 23rd and south to Chambers ($5); 11:30 am-10:30 pm; 9fold.me
Phone: (212) 243-1680
Subway: A, C, E, B, D, F, M, 1, 2, 5