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THE Lowly Peon


The Loss of a Friend 
22 October 2010, 8:26am

One of the first restaurants daisy and I discovered, Pizza Pazza, in Hangzhou, has taken a turn for the worst, leaving Daze and me feeling like we've lost an old friend.

Almost three years ago, Daze and I were walking around West Lake, an area called Xihu Tiandi (West Lake Heaven on Earth), and we found this fancy looking Italian restaurant, and decided to check it out. It was on the second floor, in an old house, with a nice wooden feel and cloth napkins. The menu wasn't bad either — good pizza, excellent ravioli, and some decent wines. It didn't take long for this place, Va Bene, to become one of our regulars.

After a while, we wondered where the noise kept coming from, and realized that there was another restaurant downstairs with live music ("live music", of course, being two Philippeano girls swaying back and forth while some guy stands behind them on a keyboard reliving the '80s). Pizza Pazza, the place was called, and it had almost the same menu — sans free bread — for about 20% less the price. We started going there instead, since the food was the same (they even wore the same uniforms). We became such regulars there that the servers all knew where we liked to sit (farthest from the live music), and even remembered my favorite pizza and wine. We couldn't go too often, as the prices were still a bit steep, but when I wanted good pizza, that's where I'd be.

Since then, I've taken nearly all of our visitors — klcomp, paul, maggie33, and all of my US colleagues.

A few months ago, the upstairs restaurant closed for renovations, so the menu moved downstairs, and with it came the prices. A 58rmb pizza at Pizza Pazza now cost 88rmb (the same pizza). Daze and I stopped going with such frequency (I think, actually, that we only went once or twice since the upstairs closed) because the prices just weren't right.

We decided to go back last night. Daze noticed right away that the sign on the front was different. I don't even remember what it was called, but as far as we could tell, everything else was the same. We asked our waiter buddy what happened, and he told us that their Shanghai based company sold the Hangzhou restaurant. He assured me: the management is the same, the menu is the same, even the staff is the same. I noticed that the chefs still wore the clothes with the upstairs' restaurant's name on it. And I'm the same! he joked.

Feeling better about the lack of change, we opened the newer, higher quality menus, and I nearly gasped at the prices. That same 58rmb pizza, which cost 88rmb after the upstairs closed, is now 108rmb. That's almost $20 for a single serving pizza. The exact same pizza that I ate less than a year ago for nearly half the price.

When we got the bill, I mentioned to our server buddy that this means we probably won't come here anymore, or at least with any kind of frequency. I tried to explain that I wasn't complaining, but more that it saddens us that the prices are now so completely unreasonable that we can't go, despite the fact that it's one of our favorites.

Feeling pretty down, we went home. And I woke up at 5am and sprinted to the bathroom. We think it was the tuna.

I'm sad to see you go, Pizza Pazza. May you rest in peace.

update
[26 October 2010, 11:09am]

Apparently, my situation is far from unique. The New York Times is reporting that the consumer price index went up 3.6%, and

For instance, according to official government data, food prices have risen about 19 percent over the last three years. But government data on individual items shows that the price of many food items jumped 30 percent during that period.


Yikes.

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comments

Will

[22 October 2010]

I feel for you man. This is like when Cheese to Please closed down.