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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

He drove 1,400 miles for Stoughton pizza

By Amanda Cedrone, Globe Staff
From: http://www.boston.com/

Town Spa Pizza

Is it really that good? An image of Town Spa Pizza, where the pies are made that David Schuler and his family craves.

Sure, there’s nothing like a good pizza -- it’s a sublime symphony of crust, sauce, and cheese. But is any pie worth a 1,400-mile drive?

David Schuler thinks so. He drove 1,400 miles from Mississippi to pick up 150 of them from Town Spa Pizza in Stoughton.

A Stoughton native until age 13, Schuler grew up eating at the pizza place – then his family moved to Jackson, Miss.

“The only pizza we ate growing up was Town Spa Pizza,” he said. “I just assumed pizza was like that everywhere. We got to Mississippi and pizza here was just horrible.”

Schuler and his siblings began to get competitive – every time someone went back to the Boston area to visit family, they would see how many pizzas they could get back to Mississippi.

His sister started with five. His brother brought back 10. His sister went again and brought back 15. Then Schuler decided to give it a try. He bought a suitcase that he filled with pizzas, and that cost him a baggage fee of $87 to fly home from Logan Airport.

Schuler decided there must be a more efficient way to get the pizzas back to Mississippi. After a few fits and starts, he figured it out

“If you buy them frozen, you can’t get them back quick enough,” he said. “The crust gets soggy and there’s no way to get it out.”

Instead, Schuler buys the pizzas half-cooked, seals them in vacuum-packed plastic, and places them in coolers with ice packs. Following this method, the pizzas are just fine when he gets back to Mississippi.

“I’ve got a good system,” he said.

For 150 pizzas, it took Schuler four coolers, cramming the pizzas in like vinyl records on a shelf. He even had room left over for some Funny Bones and Yodels. You can’t get those in Mississippi, either, he added.

Schuler isn’t the only customer who comes from long distances to get Town Spa Pizza, said Richard Phillips, general manager of the pizzeria. Others have come from places as far away as Hawaii and California.

Customers are so loyal to the family-owned restaurant because of its consistency, he said.

“We’re in our fourth generation here,” he said. “We make it consistent. It’s the same pizza it was 50 years ago. It’s the same sauce we made 50 years ago.”

When he arrives back in Jackson, Schuler’s first stop was his mother’s house where he stores the pizzas in her deep freezer. He distributed the pizzas to his sisters, nieces, and nephews, who are always appreciative.

My sister “was in tears when I handed them to her,” he said.

Schuler has no plans on stopping his thousand-mile pizza delivery route. Next time he’s looking to pick up 200.

“I’m getting myself psyched up,” he said.

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