DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Dallas-based Pizza Patron is making good on a free pizza promotion that's had social media buzzing for weeks. There's a catch to get the free pizza, of course. Customers have to order it in Spanish.
"Habla en espanol, muy poquito," says a chipper Derrick Morgan. Fortunately for Morgan, he needn't be fluent.
"You only have to say 'pizza por favor'," said the chain's marketing manager, Edgar Padilla, who insisted that the promotion is intended to be inclusive and reach new customers. "Everybody's welcome to the Pizza Patron locations. It doesn't matter if they're African American, Anglos, Hispanics, Asians, everybody's welcome. We're going to have fun."
Morgan was picking up a pizza at the Ross Ave. location for lunch. He promised to be back when the free pizza promotion kicked off at 5 p.m.
By then, the line was around the block, in spite of the heat.
"I've got my water. We're in the shade. It got cloudy. It's a free pizza, why not?," asked a laughing Margaret Gomez.
But the promotion has not been all fun. The three little words, spoken in Spanish, have unleashed an angry reaction in some circles.
Pizza Patron's last public backlash came when it began accepting pesos as payment five years ago.
"In 2007, we had death threats with the pizza for pesos. This time, our email server got hacked; but, our IT people got it fixed pretty quickly," said Padilla. Earlier Tuesday, a Fort Worth Pizza Patron location was the target of a white powder scare. But police later confirmed that the 'white powder' was actually sheet rock dust.
Some North Texans say they aren't shocked that some people would react in such a way, just saddened.
"I think we're hypersensitive as a society," said Michael Faulkner in Dallas. "So, it doesn't surprise me that people are griping about it. But, I really don't know why you would be upset that someone wants to offer free pizza."
Melissa Gonzalez agreed.
"You get the whole mass public involved and you get the Facebook adn all that stuff going on, people do tend to get riled up about things that are not that big a deal. So, just let this one go, there's more important things going on in the world."
Like free pizza.
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