Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Free Pizza - If You Can Eat It!

Are you up for a pizza challenge?

The Pizza Haus on East McCarty Street in Jefferson City features a promotion for the most daring of eaters.

For $30, any brave patron of the restaurant can purchase “The Haus,” an 18x18-inch pizza and a drink. If the eater can finish off the entire pizza within one hour, their meal is "on the haus".

And they'll be the first to be immortalized on the Pizza Haus Hall of Fame, complete with a photo. As an extra incentive, a winner takes a pot of money, to which each entrant contributes $5.

But there's several catches.

First, pizzas must have three meats of the eater's choosing.

Second, if eaters get sick, they are disqualified and must clean up their own mess.

And third, a failed attempt will also get your mug on the pizza joint's “Wall of Shame,” which currently features 25 losing eaters.

Restaurant owner Jason VanLoo bought the business 13 months ago.

VanLoo said he and a friend thought of the promotion while sitting in a booth at the restaurant before VanLoo had even purchased it.

“We were just sitting there,” VanLoo said. “We just wanted to know, ‘What can we do to get people in here?'

”VanLoo said all of the attempts so far have been from men, both young and old. “I'd love to see a girl do it,” VanLoo said.

VanLoo said a number of people have asked about the competition.

Others, he said, come by and purchase the pizza, which is an item on the regular menu, and test the waters before trying to eat the whole thing as part of the competition.

Some of those are scared off on their first try.“We've gotten to the point where everyone's scared of it,” VanLoo said. “It's a lot of food.”

The competition started out strong when VanLoo first began it just over a year ago, but VanLoo said participation has dwindled.

VanLoo attributes this to the size of the pizza, which is nearly the size of the restaurant's tables.

Those who have the opportunity to watch someone endeavor the challenge enjoy the entertainment almost as much as VanLoo and his employees do.

“Everyone kind of gawks just to see,” VanLoo said.

Often other diners in the restaurant will give competitors a pep-talk beforehand, or will offer support during the test. The eaters usually have something to say, too.“A lot of what I hear is ‘Oh, when I was younger I could have done it. Ten years ago this would have been easy,'” VanLoo said.

So far no one has made the “Wall of Fame” and actually finished the pizza.

The closest attempt was by a local fire fighter who ate the entire pizza except for four pieces, a tiny portion compared to how much he was able to finish.“I really think it might take a professional eater to do it,” VanLoo said.

VanLoo has yet to try the challenge himself, but said that if he were to try, he would order a pizza with pepperoni, Canadian bacon and sausage.

He said that competition is “all mental” and that he is excited to see someone do it - just not himself.

“I'm not crazy enough to try it,” VanLoo laughed.

The most recent attempt at the competition was April 19, when Mike Lewis finished just over half of the enormous pie.

“I was a little disappointed - I thought I could get a little farther,” Lewis said.

This venture was Lewis's second time to try the feat.

The first time he got further, leaving just two rows of pizza left.“I think it's pretty much impossible.”

After finishing as much as he could, Lewis could only describe how he felt as “Miserable. Just miserable. Really full.”

Customers are welcome to try the challenge any day Pizza Haus is open -- no appointment necessary

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