| The Filling Station |
701 S. St. Mary’s
Consider this cycle: A red-eyed slacker with late-night munchies phones in an order for a “special” pizza delivery; another red-eyed slacker (mis)takes the phone order but passes it along nonetheless to the red-eyed pizza-maker for production; upon completion, the red-eyed pizza driver delivers the pie (and just as importantly, the quarter bag of dirt weed) to the customer, who then eats the pie, and later cranks up the 6-foot-tall motorized water pipe. Though crude, it is a perpetual-motion machine of sublime efficiency. Cyber-punk novelist Neal Stephenson even made the pizza-delivery driver the last symbol of competency in a dystopian near future.
Consider my shock, then, when I went to the newly opened café and pizza parlor the Filling Station at South St. Mary’s and Durango. There is no delivery service. They aren’t even open past 6 p.m. Instead of 100 decibels of compressed rap-rock shaking the floorboards, a breezy jazz composition quietly escaped from the kitchen. The model was broken, my thesis happily refuted.
The proprietor and manager of the Filling Station handles all duties himself, reverting the business model from a Ford-like factory system of disillusionment to an adaptable craftsman approach to production. The results are refreshing and immediately apparent. The manager is warm and engaging. Gone is the cold gaze of the disaffected customer-service worker chained to the register. Just as I was entering, the owner was running out the door to chase down a customer who forgot his order at the counter, yet he still had the wherewithal to invite me into his new venture. This is a man working hard to succeed.
With a great location, the Filling Station is poised to endear itself to the “other” Southtown, that is to say the neighborhood of artists, renters, and City employees who will embrace a casual, affordable meal. Consider these prices: for breakfast, a $2.25 Latte, a $1.50 giant muffin, or a $2.50 meat-stuffed roll; for lunch, a $2.25 slice of pepperoni pizza, a $2.50 Greek salad (with baby greens), or a $2.25 cup of soup. More importantly, marinate on this: Everything is made on site by the owner, including the pastries, the pizza, the soups, the salads, even the salad dressings.
I’m happy to be wrong about the pizza business, but more importantly, I’m happy to have the filling station in the heart of SA.