“I’m the luckiest man in Columbus, Ga.,” says Willie Patterson, the manager of Deorio’s Pizza Inn.
On the afternoon of Aug. 14, Patterson felt ill. His concern heightened to the point that he asked a co-worker, Denise Doherty, to take him to St. Francis Hospital. Soon after he got in the passenger seat, he leaned over and clicked the car’s emergency signal. Doherty hit the pedal.
When he got into the emergency room, Patterson hit the floor.
Patterson had a heart attack and got two stents put in. He slept for 17 days straight, he said.
But he’s back at work, as of October — and back to wearing his Falcons jersey and calling customers by name when they come in. The main change? He’s a lot lighter. And the wall containing photos of long-time patrons has been covered, temporarily, by his get well cards.
Deorio’s is a Columbus staple. In business for 44 years, it’s owned by Joann Thompson. Like a few long-time establishments, Deorio’s employees know the regulars by name, in part because — like Patterson — they’re regulars themselves. Now the children raised on Deorio’s pizza are bringing their children.
Patterson figures that in bad economic times like these, restaurants like Deorio’s thrive. Not just because of the comfort food that Italian fare offers, but the comfort that someone already knows your order. And your name.
DEORIO'S PIZZA INN
2010 Auburn Ave. (Cross Country Plaza), 706-563-5887
Hours: 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Monday-Saturday; 4:30-9:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday; and open till 10:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays
Atmosphere: Casual and friendly.
Main dishes: Pizza of all sizes and stripes; large salads; lasagna and spaghetti; chicken tetrazzini and chicken parmesan; Italian combination platter; eggplant parmesan; manicotti; rigatoni; and ravioli.
Side items: Italian link sausage; meatballs; bread; mushrooms; salads.
Drinks: Soft drinks and tea; beer and wine.
The bottom line: Very reasonable. Mini pizzas start at $3.25. Larges cost $14.25. The junior spaghetti dish is $7.75. Aside from the large pizza, the most expensive dish costs $10.95.
Of Note: Children’s menu available. Take-out available.
Crowds and waiting: It can get crowded at peak dinner and lunch hours, but the service is fast.