Pizza Place

Dixie and I always order pizza from the same place.  It’s a little Mom & Pop joint nestled in a nearby residential area.  It’s called Science Fiction Pizza.  If you drove by at night you wouldn’t know it was a pizza place, because the “Science Fiction” is lit up on the building but the “Pizza” is on an unlit sign in the window below.  At night you’d see only “Science Fiction”, which could mean any number of things, pizza being probably the last connection one would make.

To the right of the lit “Science Fiction” there is some cut off information, which you can decipher on your own:


The inside of the pizza place is non-descript: a small bare room with just a counter and some arbitrary decoration.  There is a picture of “Earth at Night” on the wall behind the counter, which separates the entrance from the kitchen; on the wall to the right hangs an oversized towel with an echinacea print.  There is one small table in the bay window: it is made from a 3-inch slab of wood covered with another half-inch layer of laquer.  There are pictures between the wood and laquer.

The place is run by a couple (I’m guessing) in their fifties or possibly sixties.  The husband has a thick European accent which I can’t place.  It is open from 3:45p.m. until 2:00a.m. almost every day.

We discovered it at around 1a.m. several years ago.  While we were making our way through one of the Arrested Development seasons we had a sudden pizza craving and Science Fiction Piza was the only place open at that hour.   We ordered a large pizza with pepperoni, mushrooms and green peppers, and again the following two nights.  We haven’t ordered anything different since.  We love it.

I was over there again tonight picking up the usual and punching in the VISA/debit thing.  When the option for “tip” comes up, I always consider leaving a tip because it’s a nice Mom & Pop place, but my ‘I’m not technically receiving any service because I’m picking up the pizza’ thinking always wins the day and I don’t fill in a tip amount.  Should I be tipping for pizza pick-ups?  I may tip simply because I want to, but am I obligated to tip for a pick-up?

The tip option on the debit machine is handy, but it also seems a bit presumptuous to me.  I always feel guilty leaving it at $0.00, mostly because it feels like the person operating the machine can immediately see that I’m a Non-Tipping Bastard.  Or that’s what that person would think.  I’m not a Non-Tipping Bastard; I’m a Tips-With-Service Bastard, but a stranger working in the service industry wouldn’t know that.

With the old-school way of tipping, you could leave money on the table or leave nothing and your waiter would be none the wiser until you were long gone.  Tip jars at the counter added a little guilt (the person giving you change looks nonchalant, but are they really?)  But the tip option on the debit machine is the worst, in my opinion.

17 thoughts on “Pizza Place

  1. pegs

    Okay so I have never spent so much time observing the inside of Science Fiction Pizza but really it is my favorite pizza in this town with the exception of Venice House Pizza which is really only good when you eat in and not delivery if that makes sense. Science Fiction Pizza has been around for almost 20 years here in various forms and locations cuz I remember it from when I last lived here.

    Having said all that, when we first moved back I ordered from there and went and picked it up. When I did leave a tip the lady laughed at me nervously and said I shouldn’t have done that. I should have just bypassed the tip option. The machine is one that they also must use for deliveries and that is why the tip option is there. She actually seemed to feel quite uncomfortable that I left a tip on a pick up order. So question no more whether you should leave a tip with Mom and Pop as they certainly do not expect one. I haven’t left one since unless we choose the delivery option.

    (BTW I usually do not tip from places that charge a delivery charge and if I do it is generally a smaller amount than I normally would. Is this wrong? I just always felt that tipping the driver was their pay and a delivery charge is essentially a gratuity charge which would be a double payment to the driver.)

  2. pegs

    Oh and here is another tipping question? Are you obligated to leave a tip at a buffet restaurant when essentially all the waitress is doing in seating you, bringing you drinks (on occasion) and possibly clearing your plates for your second trip up? And if you choose not to tip in this situation do they think of you as the Non-Tipping Bastard? Should you feel guilty?


  3. Ian H.

    How’s the crust at Science Fiction? It’s just around the corner from us, but I’ve never considered ordering from them because I’ve always gotten really greasy crusts from small pizza places. Generally, we either make our own or order Domino’s (however, now that some of my students are working there, I’m a little leery of handing them my CC number).

  4. Simon

    Dine in

    What irritates me even more than the debit tip option is restaurants who automatically apply a 15% gratuity to your bill. This is becoming more and more prevalent when dining out in groups and it bugs the snot out of me.

  5. Kim

    I had pretty much the same tipping questions about a month back on my own blog. I’m one of those that unless I receive some form of service, I don’t tip. If service was bad, I don’t tip. That has been my question too though…if I do all the work, but cook the food…you know, pick up said meal, serve myself….do you tip? The whole idea of tipping really originates in the states where they don’t pay their wait staff very much ($2/hr). It does frustrate me when I feel “forced” to tip.

    Science Fiction Pizza….oh how that brings back memories though….hard to believe that it will be 17 years since we moved away from PA. Glad to hear they are still around!!

  6. Andrew

    I can tell you as a very occasional visitor to PA that Science Fiction Pizza is the cat’s ass. Good stuff. Love the cut off signage.

  7. Marc

    Ian: I think the crust is fantastic, but you might have a different idea of what a “good” crust is. It’s crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside. It’s not too greasy: greasier than Domino’s, less greasy than Pizza Hut’s.

  8. Randall

    Hmm, I think I’ll have some cat’s ass tomorrow!

    The mom and pop places are usually better than the national chains, I find anyway.

    I used to work in such a place, and for supper EVERY night I was allowed to make my own pizza. Now I am a bit of a Pizza snob.

    I haven’t purchased a pizza from them yet, but I will tomorrow when I am dining alone.

    As for Tipping?
    I try to be generous when I tip. In my business I can’t afford to be, nor do I want a reputation for being a tight blighter.

  9. Linea

    I tend to be generous when I tip and since I can afford to I think I should. If the service is really bad then the tip will be small but just enough.

    Having had a kid who drove around with deliveries – they don’t get paid much and have you noticed the cost of gas? Yes, the tip is likely their delivery pay – or a good part of it.

    Waitresses – I think most of them try to serve you well and again they work hard for low wages. Their bosses depend on them making good tips to retain their services. Lots of them are single moms or students or people trying to make it on their own without being on welfare. I think a tip of some sort is always good unless they really did a crappy job with a poor attitude.

  10. Marc

    Tipping in general isn’t really the issue here. The real issue is do you leave a tip when you pick your food up somewhere?

  11. Angie

    I probably wouldn’t leave a tip if I went to pick up food. I think that tipping is for good or even adequate service when dining in.

    I also like to leave cash on the table when I tip. I don’t mind doing it on debit when you can enter it yourself, but I hate the ones where the waitress has to enter the tip amount for you. I always feel obligated to give more then.

  12. Mark

    Ah, tipping. I am intimately acquainted with this issue as I am a waiter part time. Check out my blog ( for some discussion of this topic, especially Christians and tipping. Anyway, the pizza place sounds like a great place but I think you are within your rights not to tip. Tipping is based on both need and cultural expectation. There is currently a cultural expectation that servers (and certain other people in certain service industries) should be tipped. It is not based on “if there is a tip button.” Buffets too I think are up to the individual’s discretion. We don’t need to tip for everything after all.

    As for automatic 15% gratuities on parties, I can definitely weigh in! At the Olive Garden where we work, we were one of the last restaurants in Winnipeg to put the grat on parties of 8 or more. We did it because nobody wanted to serve parties any more! Have you ever heard of the law of decreasing responsibility (OK, I just made it up though there is something similar refered to in The Tipping Point)? The more people who are in a party, the more likely people are to stiff the server. Trust me, it’s true. Nothing is more discouraging then wasting your entire shift on one big party who pays with separate bills and then you make almost nothing off of. This happens all the time, and that is the reason for automatic grat. I wish we didn’t have to do it, but people get cheaper in groups. People are tempted to stiff or tip poorly when they can hide in a group. It’s human nature unfortunately. Of course if you have a bad experience with your server/experience you can always ask to speak to the manager and they will take the grat off. Hope that’s uselful,

  13. JT

    They’re Greek – I know their son. I haven’t ate there for 20 years. I should try it sometime again. And I always tip when they deliver to the house, but when you pick up, I don’t, because I spent the gas $ going there in the first place.

  14. Tammy

    The pizza was good the other night, thanks by the way for that nice evening.

    We have a tip jar at work because you order and pay at the counter. The tips for years went only to the service staff but now the cooks and bakers are tipped out a percentage. At a place like this where no one makes great wages it seemed only fair. The service staff are not the ones getting up early to make sure you have a nice meal or cinnamon bun. I’d say tip even if you’re picking up. It doesn’t take much to make someone feel appreciated.

  15. Ang

    Working in a tipping industry, I myself do not tip at a buffet restaurant nor do I tip if I pick the food up myself. What sevice have they provided to you? I am more likely to tip a full serve gas attendent than a waitress of a buffet restaurant. (that being said that way, I should point out that I don’t go to full service stations)

    As for the 15% automatic gratuity being added to groups, since that has been brought up, I am in full agreement with that. Most of the time you do get shafted when serving groups and where I work, we have to tip out the kitchen whether we get tipped or not. So…if you have a big table and they stiff you, you essentially have just paid to serve them and that is not cool. On the other hand, I would rather be left no tip than those nice people who will leave you a dollar and change on a $75 bill. Personally, it is more of an insult because at least you can justify it by saying at least they aren’t tippers (especially if you have given them great service). If I suck that day, don’t tip me; I don’t deserve it but, if I am run off my feet and can’t cater to your every whim appreciate my efforts. It’s not that I am incompetent.

    Thus ends my rant.

  16. pegs

    Well I am going to reiterate what I said previously, at least in the case of the Science Fiction Family, they do not expect a tip on pick up orders and have told me to not leave one.

    I don’t know if the same can be said of other places though.

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