Pizza restaurant in Ellsworth gives new meaning to ‘friendly competition’

Published: Jan. 30, 2023 at 5:49 PM EST
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ELLSWORTH, Maine (WABI) - DragonFire Pizza in Ellsworth had a major piece of pizza-making equipment go down Saturday night, but managed to stay open thanks to some help from the competition.

There are two things a pizza place can’t do business without: an industrial mixer for the dough and an oven to cook the pies. When DragonFire Pizza’s mixer went down on Saturday night, it made opening back up on Sunday look almost impossible.

“Hobart, their service area,” said DragonFire co-owner Jessica Butler. “They only have two technicians for New England, and they’re not open on the weekends.”

The only other business in Ellsworth with an industrial mixer for pizza dough is the competition. Zeppa’s Pizza across town answered the call, and welcomed the DragonFire crew into their kitchen, so they could make enough dough to get them through.

“I hesitated to even ask,” said Butler. “Especially being an other pizza restaurant here in Ellsworth.”

“It’s everything you learn in kindergarten; share your toys,” Zeppa’s co-owner Huch Palcic said. “So that’s what we did.”

It’s not common to host a competitor’s staff to use your kitchen in the restaurant business, while putting off getting your own business ready for the day ahead.

“The weirdness kind of wore off fast,” Palcic said. “We started chatting business stuff. So it was fun.”

“Big relief,” added DragonFire’s Brandon Cote. “We were able to open up, and we actually opened up right on time. We got all the dough done in an hour.”

“I even offered,” Butler laughed.” I said, ‘You’re putting your dough off this morning. I’ll stay and help you ball up dough if you want me too.’ And he’s like, ‘No, no. I got it.’”

Also uncommon is a restaurant advertising for another, but that’s what Butler and Dragon Fire did to repay the favor.

“I was like, if I just put the word out, at least it helps spread the word that, ‘Come to both places!’”

What all involved say is common however, is a sense of community in Ellsworth. Neighbor helping neighbor, business helping business.

“Even though they’re direct competition,” said Cote, “We’re all just trying to feed people and make everyone happy.”

“It’s a small community,” Butler added, “and we’re all just families trying to survive here in Ellsworth through the winter. It’s not easy.”

Palcic agreed.

“Opportunities like this exist all the time, every day. And you find a way to kind of weave your way into the fabric of the community like this, and make new friends that way.”

For more information on DragonFire Pizza and Zeppa’s Pizza, follow both on Facebook.