Johnny’s cooks pizzas in front of EAMC-Lanier

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, April 15, 2020

VALLEY — EAMC-Lanier Hospital has been serving the local area’s healthcare needs since 1950, and what’s almost certainly a first took place there on Tuesday. The crew from Johnny’s Pizza was there in a corporate food truck cooking pizza and serving it on site.

“This has got to be the first time we have ever had curbside pizza. It’s great,” said Cindy Brooks, EAMC-Lanier’s director of business development, occupational health and wellness.

Approximately 160 people on the first shift had a 10-inch personal pan pizza, each one tossed by Johnny’s Pizza Owner Ben Hamilton.

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“Several of us have cooked outdoors before, but this is the first time we’ve cooked at the hospital,” Hamilton said. “We couldn’t have had a better day weather wise. It’s great.”

Some classic rock music made for a good mood.

“The music really adds to the atmosphere,” Brooks said.

The food truck is one of three owned by the Atlanta office. They are loaned out on special occasions such as Tuesday’s treating of hospital workers.

Hamilton said that business hasn’t been good during the stay-at-home shutdown but could be a lot worse.

“It’s definitely down, but considering the circumstances is pretty good,” he said. “We are so much wanting this to be over and getting back to normal. We are looking forward to having our customers dining it with us.”

Johnny’s Pizza is one of three restaurants in downtown West Point that have remained open during the shutdown. It’s still providing deliveries and curbside service.

“We are open from 10:30 a.m. until 8 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday,” Hamilton said. “We are closed on Tuesdays. That enabled us to do this today.”

Hamilton was assisted by Daniel Irmiter, Art Hamby, Zach Guy, Kelsey Traffanstedt and Minyada Peterson.

Each pizza was made with a special blend of ingredients known as Johnny’s Love. Included are mozzarella, romano and oregano. Employees had their choice of cheese, pepperoni and gluten-free cauliflower crust.

Hospital employees like Elva Boyd want everyone in the community to know they appreciate these free meals.

“We want to thank everyone who has sent us food,” she said. “It helps us out more than you realize. Many times when we are working we don’t have time to go out and get a meal on our own.”

A hot meal that’s cooked on site or delivered is a lot better than something that comes out of a vending machine. It also takes a load off the hospital cafeteria.

Brooks was impressed with the teamwork that went into making the pizzas.

“Ben and his team have quite a system,” she said. “They can cook and box each pizza in less than 15 minutes.”

The night-shift workers will be treated this Friday by Waffle House. They will be provided a free breakfast when they leave work at 6 a.m.