They say that you can never go home again, but I firmly believe that you can at least visit.
I’m a West Texas boy through and through; you probably have noticed it from my colloquial style of writing, and if you ever heard me open up my mouth, you would know immediately that I am not from South Texas. I know that West Texas is incredibly flat and treeless, but to me, there is a charm in that desolate landscape.
To paraphrase a comment that I once heard Joe Ely say (and this is not verbatim): West Texas is strange because if you sit in the middle of a cotton field and look up you feel two diametrically opposed things. At one time, you feel like you are the center of the world and everything kind of is centered on you. At another time you realize how small and insignificant you are and how big the universe truly is. Go stand in the middle of a cotton field and you’ll know what he’s saying.
Lubbock is my hometown, and I had the fortune of getting to return for a family member’s graduation in the middle of May. Being recently unemployed, I had a lot of time to spend with my family and decided to go up in the middle of the week. By doing this, I was able to visit a good friend and one of my favorite places to eat, Giorgio’s.
Giorgio’s is a pizza joint in downtown Lubbock on Broadway and it is owned and run by George, one of the most friendly and smart people that you will ever meet. George has a diverse background and speaks something on the order of six different languages, has a mechanical engineering degree, and has a ton of experience in a wide array of businesses.
I have been going to Giorgio’s since I was a sophomore in high school back in 1998. From that time until I graduated Tech with my Master’s Degree in 2005, I ate at Giorgio’s at least once a week (if not more). The restaurant became more than just a place to eat, it because a place to congregate, celebrate, and just have a lot of fun. There were many good memories (and good meals) that happened at Giorgio’s in high school and college.
When I went to Tech, I started getting a group to go there every Friday; being further away from campus and in a part of town most students don’t venture out to, it was a tough sell at first. But after the first bite, people became hooked and many made the pilgrimage every Friday for some good food. I particularly enjoyed going in college because there was no “time limit” on how long we had for lunch. Often times, meals would turn into events full of lively conversation, storytelling, and full on clowning around.
George has his doors open Monday through Friday from 11:00AM – 6:00PM, so it was always difficult for me to get up to Lubbock to eat there when I entered the corporate world. In fact, I don’t think I have been there in some two and half years. I was thrilled to get the chance to finally get to catch up with a good friend and eat some really good food.
I was greeted by the familiar awning, window paintings having the prices (from 1998 to 2010, George only went up a buck and a quarter to $5.50 on his famous two slices of pizza and drink combo (tax included)), and the red and white checkered floor. Walking in, George hollered at me, “Hey my friend, long time no see!” It seemed like only a week had gone by since my last visit.
Since this blog primarily focuses on food, I will write a little bit about it here. I always favored the two slices of pepperoni pizza as my meal of choice; it will definitely fill you up as it is pretty much a quarter of a pizza! What really makes it is the crust, it is the perfect thickness and a little chewy. The sauce also busts out with fresh flavor and that combination just makes it awesome!
Recently (and by recently, I mean probably since 2003), I started ordering the meat calzones (particularly on cloudy days); they are gigantic and filled with sausage, pepperoni, cheese, and sauce. You can ask for a specialty made one stuffed just with pepperoni (quite the gut buster) or one that is vegetarian. I always opt for a side of sauce to pour a little extra in the calzone and have to dip the crust in. My mouth is watering right now thinking of it.
As you have read my blog you probably realized that food and eating out is, to me, as much about the experience and the people preparing the food as it is about the food itself. George really delivers on this by really making you feel glad that you chose his restaurant to dine.
He greets everyone with the cordial, “How are you doing my friend,” and for anyone who has been in more than a couple of times, he already knows something about that person to carry on a casual conversation and will ask, “Do you want the usual?” In fact, Andrew, one of the guys who would always go every Friday with me in college, was in Lubbock on a recruiting trip recently and George not only remembered his name, but also enough about him to ask what he was up to in Houston, how the other folks were doing who used to come in with us, and also if he wanted the usual. This had been something like 3 years since he had seen him last!
I value George as good friend and mentor; he is one of those entrepreneurs who has inspired me in my life and made me realize that I want to start my own business. Many days around closing, I would go into Giorgio’s just to talk with him about business, life, and pick his brain about how to make it on your own. These conversations left an imprint on me to this day and I try to adopt many of his philosophies and ideas.
Giorgio’s has experienced its fare share of changes as well. Neighboring business has come and gone around his storefront. Prices have gone up slightly. Students who eat their religiously graduate and move on and new ones fill their chairs. Employees turn over and new ones come in to help out; this was kind of a sad point for me as one of the guys I really enjoyed talking with left for another opportunity.
Yet the food, friendliness, and red and white checkered floor remains constant. I might not be able to go home, but at least for now I can go to Giorgio’s, and that is close enough.
Value: 10/10 (At $5.50 for a full plate of pizza and a drink (includes tax), how can you go wrong?)
Atmosphere: 9.5/10 (In downtown Lubbock, this joint feels like a throwback with red and white checkered floors)
Service: 10/10 (Can’t beat it; everyone is greeted with a “How are you doin’ my friend!”; go there a handful of times and the owner will know your “usual”)
Taste: 10/10 (Some of the best tasting pizza, calzones, and lasagna in the world!)
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