RIDLEY PARK— If skeptics ever doubt the power of social media, they can speak to Eric Brooks. The Ridley Park pizza shop owner’s business went through the roof in just a matter of days, thanks to a recent Facebook post.
Brooks, who previously owned Eric’s Pizza on Baltimore Pike in Clifton Heights, opened the new Eric's Pizza shop at 241 E. Chester Pike only three weeks ago. Business was slow — until, according to Brooks, “an angel walked into the shop.”
That angel is Nick Mniecznikowski of Ridley Park. After enjoying a few slices of pizza with his girlfriend Pam Faulkner, Mniecznikowski posted this comment on his Facebook page:
“Anyone who can see this PLEASE READ: This man owns this pizza place next to the cold cuts at 241 E. Chester Pike. The man who owns it is so nice and sweet and it breaks my heart because I know he may leave soon. He just opened his pizza place like a month ago. His name is Eric. I walked in with my girlfriend two days ago for a slice to try and, little did I know I would meet this man. At first I was skeptical because it didn’t look very nice. But I asked for a slice because they were only one dollar. He didn’t have a slice so he had to make a pizza and I had to wait. As I waited I started to talk to the man. He talked to me about the pizza place I work at (Double Decker) and he was just simply amazed by how many orders we get. It just broke my heart to think that his dream of owning a pizza place may not happen. He asked for my number to ask for help if needed, which I gladly gave him. He also told me about his other pizza place that he owned in Clifton Heights. When I looked it up, it said it was permanently closed. Which just got me so sad to know that it closed. Eric has photos of his cute little girl in his pizza shop and it just makes me happy knowing that he’s a nice sweet guy. The point I’m trying to get at is that this man deserves the world and if you ever want a pizza PLEASE just try his pizza. I beg you - the pizza was great and cheap so please if you have 10 minutes, just stop by.”
Mniecznikowski created the post at 1:39 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 15. The post went viral almost immediately, and by this week, there were 3,500 shares, over 1,000 "likes" and more than 500 comments — and that’s just on his page.
As a result, Brooks’ phone hasn’t stopped ringing off the hook.
“The customers just keep coming through the door,” laughed the happy pizza shop owner. “I’ve been running out of dough and cheese and had to bring in extra help — and it’s all because of that one kid with a huge heart. At one point, there was a two hour wait on pies, that is how busy I’ve been. I can’t even tell you how many 50-pound bags of flour that I flew through each day. I told Nick that he and his mom have pizza for life. I don’t know how I could ever repay his kindness.”
Mniecznikowski, 18, shrugs it off.
“I am not looking for free pizza - ever,” Mniecznikowski said. “I will always pay because I am not the reason this pizza shop is popular. The pizza itself is the reason. People wouldn’t keep going if it wasn’t really good pizza.”
Mniecznikowski was right. The line was out the door this week, with several customers already qualifying as “repeat business.”
John Cardow of Folsom stopped by Saturday after seeing the Facebook post, but he was back on Wednesday for a different reason.
“The pizza is good and you can’t beat the price,” he commented as he waited patiently for his pies.
Countless comments on Facebook from a wide variety of people, in response to the now-famous post, substantiate Cardow’s rave review, with comment after comment boasting about the exceptional taste, quality and value of the pies.
Plain whole pizzas cost $8 and pies with pepperoni or sausage are just $10. Pizza can also be purchased by the slice for $1. The shop also carries beverages and will soon introduce water ice, just like it had in the Clifton Heights store. For right now, the pies must be picked up, but Brooks said now that he can afford to hire extra help, he hopes to have delivery in place in the very near future.
“I make my own sauce, dough, and even my own cheese,” Brooks explained. “You rarely find those made-from-scratch ingredients anywhere, anymore. We make an original 1930’s pizza, with fresh everything. Nobody else can touch this pie, in quality, taste, and freshness.”
Brooks is no newcomer to the pizza making business. He has been perfecting his craft for over 35 years.
A former resident of Philadelphia who now lives in Clifton Heights, Eric is the single dad of a 10-year-old daughter. He learned how to make pizza as a young man, working in his stepmother’s King of Prussia pizza shop. After perfecting his pizza-making skills, he opened his own store in Upper Darby at the Mercy Wellness Center on 69th Street. From there he made pizza for the United Artist Movie Theatre on 69th Street until it was sold. From there, he purchased the former drive-through Dairy Queen in Clifton Heights where he ran Eric’s Pizza until his mother got ill and he had to close to care for her. Luckily his mother recovered and that is when he relocated to the spot in Ridley Park.
The store is the former home of Little Hut Sandwich Shop which moved across the street to the former Davis Trading Post a few years ago.
“When Nick came in for that pizza last Friday night, he asked me, ‘Why isn’t your phone ringing?’ and I said because no one knows I am here yet,” Brooks remembered. “I didn’t know this good kid from Adam but because of him, my business blew up overnight. This one kid made a miracle happen for me!”
Mniecznikowski, a 2019 graduate of Ridley High School who will begin Williamson College of the Trades next semester, takes it all in stride.
“It feels great knowing that his business is booming. When I made the post I had no idea it would be this big,” Mniecznikowski said. “I was just trying to tell people, ‘Hey this pizza shop is open, the guy is nice and y’all should try it,’ but I never thought what happened would happen. I feel much better knowing that he has help and will continue to have business. I am by no means trying to take credit for the amazing work that he’s doing. I don’t want people to know Eric’s Pizza shop from my Facebook post. I want them to know about the shop because of his great pizza.”
Eric’s Pizza is open 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., seven days a week. For more information, call 610-420-0395.