By Yas Hatcher
Point Park News Service
At Joe Mommas in Oakland, pastas and salads normally costing $7-$13 are cut in half, ranging from $3.50-$6.50 between 10 p.m.-11 p.m. each night. Right next door, Fuel and Fuddle also offers a half priced salads, pizzas, wings, sandwiches, and more after 11 p.m. nightly. There are also half priced wings, burritos, tacos, salads, and quesadillas at Mad Mex, which is located two blocks away. These are just a few of the many late night deals along Oakland’s corridor in an always competitive eating market where businesses compete for the late night student action.
While late night deals are not the only way to bring in business. The all day deals also tend to attract students. Antoon’s Pizza features two large sixteen inch, twelve cut pizza deals: one being a cheese pizza for $5 and the other a garlic and cheese pizza for $6.50. Meanwhile, Pizza Pronto has a variety of specials of the menu, including two, 1-topping, extra large pizzas for $18.99 and two burgers, two fries, and two cans of soda for $11.99.
“I always get a couple of Antoons’ pizzas for me and my roommates,” say University of Pittsburgh student, Dan Hoffman. “Sometimes we’ll get them during the day, but mostly after a long night of either staying up doing homework or after being out all night.”
Almost every restaurant in the area offers some sort of discount to draw in the local students. This allows them to choose from a large variety of food styles. Food deals range in style from pastas, salads, burritos, pizza, hoagies, wings, burgers, and much more. Pizza Pronto offers a two 16 inch hoagie deals at $15.99 while Pizza Bellagio offers the same deal for $16.99, and R and B’s Pizza Place for $17.99. Papa Davinci has burgers for $3.49, $3.99, and $4.49, depending on the type. Pizza and wing deals are from Pizza Palermo at $16.99, Pizza Pronto at $17.99 and Gennaro’s Pizza and Pasta at $16.99 (plus it includes a 2 Liter of soda).
Joe Mommas’ late night deal allows the customer to enjoy the menu that normally may not be affordable to them at regular price. After the special, a customer can come out spending somewhere $6 or less for a meal. The late night half off deal would include items such as the Cesar salad for $3.50, the four Cheese Ravioli for $5.00, and the Herb and Chicken Penne for $5.25. “When I was in the mood for Italian food, I would go to Joe Momma’s at night. It was the only time I could afford it,” says Amy Christy, former University of Pittsburgh student.
Fuel & Fuddle and Mad Mex’s late night half priced menu allows customers to spend around $4-$8 per meal. These deals are quite popular. Fuel and Fuddle begins taking names for a late night waiting list at 10:30 p.m. During the special, customers can get items such as fries for $1, wings (Kingston Jerk, Bourbon BBQ, Swamp Rub, or Buffalo) for $4, the Flying Buffalo Pizza for $4, the Goin’ Cold Turkey sandwich for $4.25. The only exceptions to the late night half off menu is all steak and seafood items, as well as the desserts and waffle fries. During their late night special, Mad Mex offers items such as The Mad Mex Quesadilla for $4.50, small and large orders of wings for $3.88 and $6, The Chopper Salad for $6, and The Mad Mex Burrito for $4.50. The exceptions to the half off menu are the tacos, the chimi, and desserts.
Antoon’s Pizza is a take out only pizza shop. Either of the pizza deals can be purchased from open to close, “…from 11 a.m. until somewhere between 2-3 a.m.,” explains Antoon’s Pizza employee, Rhonda Abraham via a recent telephone interview. Abraham goes on to admit “It makes food more affordable for the students and it helps our business.”
Pizza shop, Papa DaVinci, offers both individual deals as well as group deals. Papa DaVinci’s menu attempts to make prices even cheaper by offering a two extra large cheese pizza deal for only $16.99 and a two gyro, two fries, and two 32 ounce drinks for $10.99. Papa DaVinci goes a step further to having what they call “college specials”, which include six individual meals with drinks for $6.99. “I really like the pizza shop specials,” says Carnegie Mellon University student, Leah Chan. “My friends and I will share a larger meal sometimes, but if not I will order a college salad special from DaVinci’s.”
Using deals and specials to bring in business is common in the area, yet some choose to simply make the entire menu cheaper than the others. Primanti Brothers, a well known chain of sandwich shops, one of which is located in Oakland offers a menu that is a few dollars cheaper than most restaurants. The sandwich known as the “Pitts-Burgher Cheese Steak” is priced at $6.29, the Corned Beef and Cheese at $6.69, and the Jumbo (bologna) and Cheese at $5.99. Although the Colossal Fish and Cheese is the most expensive item on the menu priced at $7.69, the menu notes that only the city locations have prices this cheap. The suburban location has raised prices. Maximum Flavor Pizza Shop menu’s offers a $5.95 combo platter, which includes one of the fifty main dishes they serve, one of the forty sides they have and a can of soda. The main dishes range from burgers, wedgies, sandwiches, wings, hoagies, calzones, and slices of pizza, while the sides range from fries, cheese sticks, chicken nuggets, bread sticks, onion rings, and more.
The restaurants are constantly utilizing different tactics to make their food cheap enough in order to keep up. Some are using late night specials, group and individual deals and some are simply coming up with cheaper menus all together. It is obvious that these Oakland restaurants have to come to the conclusion that the way to gain the business of the college students, is by not breaking their banks!