Martin White was driving home Friday night when he saw a cul-de-sac filled with children and their parents in a spontaneous block party to celebrate the unseasonably warm weather.
While the kids were moving toys out of the roadway, he called out, "all you need is some pizza" to make it a party, he said later.
Twenty minutes later, residents of the cul-de-sac were shocked when a delivery boy hopped out of a car to hand over two pizzas. They hadn't ordered them, but quickly learned they'd been sent for free in the spirit of a good community gathering.
"We figured it was just a friendly comment from a commuter — we didn't know who (White) was," Matt Morse, one of the residents on the block, wrote in post on CommonPlace. "What a class act ... no one does that kind of stuff anymore."
The newly named "pizza blitzes" are part of what White, who opened Donatos in February, has done to try to keep his new venture "all about the community," he said.
"This is not about making loads of money — what you do begins and ends with the community," he said.
While Donatos is a Columbus, Ohio-based pizza company that dates back to 1963, franchises are owned and operated by residents local to the store's locations. Five other people bought the franchise rights to the Branch Road pizza store; three of them are Vienna residents.
While White lives in Fairfax Station, he's been looking for space in Vienna for 20 years. He opened King Street Blues in Alexandria 15 years ago, but kept coming back to Vienna for, among other things, its commitment to residents and loyalty to neighborhood businesses.
"It's a real town with a real community," White said of Vienna.
Along with pizza blitzes, White has helped sponsor the 5K races at Vienna Elementary and Wolftrap Elementary schools; he also plans to give lectures on marketing and entrepreneurship at Madison High School, similar to the guest classes he gives at George Mason University.
White said he's looking to help strengthen the business community, too: He's talking about potential programs and partnerships with nearby Norm's Wine and Beer — among early ideas are offering a "pickup package" of food and beer or wine for concertgoers heading to Wolftrap.
As for the pizza blitzes, White plans to make them regularly around town. On Wednesday, he surprised students from the Vienna Adventist Academy — who were doing cleanup and planting flowers in the sidewalk flower beds along Maple Avenue — with more free pies.
"Seemed like one good deed deserved another," White said. "You never know who's next."
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