Stamford Advocate: “It’s not delivery, it’s Jim Himes: Congressman moonlights at pizzeria”

STAMFORD — Jim Himes got to relive his teenage years Tuesday by making a pepperoni pie at one of the city’s downtown pizzerias.

The southwestern Connecticut congressman made one pizza and delivered another while working a brief shift at Pappa’s Pizza on Main Street. The 52-year-old was out of practice, since his last job at a pizza place was working in the kitchen at Pennington Pizza in New Jersey when he was about 17 years old.

“That was hard work,” he said, jokingly adding, “I’m going to work a little less hard today.”

His stop at the 60-year-old pizzeria was the latest installment of his “Jim on your job” series, in which the six-term Democratic representative visits businesses and organizations and gets some hands-on experience.

Previously, he visited Nathan Hale Middle School, the Westport Police Station and Forever Sweet Bakery in Norwalk. He also helped deliver items for UPS.

Harry Zopounidis, the owner of Pappa’s, said he loved the idea of Himes walking in the shoes of pizzeria workers, even for a brief period of time.

As far as pizza preparation, Himes didn’t have to worry about tossing the dough into the air, as the Greek-style pizzas at Pappa’s are all baked in pans. Instead, he ladled three big spoonfuls of tomato sauce on the dough, covered it in cheese and placed pepperoni slices on top, before it was all placed in the oven.

Zopounidis said he wanted to show Himes “how we work on an everyday basis.”

“I just hope he doesn’t get burned,” he added.

Himes said the city’s big businesses like Pitney Bowes and Synchrony Financial get plenty of attention from elected officials, often overshadowing the small shops and eateries.

“Sometimes officials focus on big corporations, on the big businesses that employ hundreds of people,” he said. “But the reality is that for an awful lot of people, it’s a job in a place like Pappa’s Pizza … that’s the job that an awful lot of people in a community like this one work.”

He said he hopes to learn more about the struggles for local restaurants, such as onerous regulations.

“I often will hear, ‘There’s this regulation that is particularly hard to comply with,’ and I can convey that to my state counterparts,” he said.

As far as where Himes stands on the pizza spectrum, he’s a traditionalist. Asked to describe his ideal pie, the Greenwich resident answered slightly charred pepperoni on thin crust.

However, his wife Mary Scott is more adventurous. She enjoys pineapple on her pizza, a point of contention in the household.

“I hate it,” said Himes. “This has almost broken up my family. My wife puts pineapple on pizza and I can’t even look at it. There’s only one way to eat pizza and it’s pepperoni with crispy edges around the pepperoni.”

“Pineapple,” he added, “is dessert.”

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