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Island Pizza gives back to the community

June 29, 2016
By ERIC DeVAUX (news@breezenewspapers.com) , Island Reporter, Captiva Current, Sanibel-Captiva Islander

It might not seem hard managing a small-town pizzeria, but Darien Arnum, general manager of Island Pizza, also has to commit most of his time to making pizzas and dealing with finances and marketing.

"I do everything in the restaurant, I just don't push paper," Arnum said. "I'm usually here around 10-10:30. One month I'll come in at 9-9:30. I'll set up for everybody. You try to make time, not manage it, because my time is here. I work six days a week. I take one day off. That day off, my phone is still on."

Arnum, who has spent most of his life in hospitality due to his business degree, used to run a casino in Connecticut before he started working for Island Pizza three years ago.

Article Photos

Island Pizza General Manager Darien Arnum prepares a pizza.

ERIC DEVAUX

The pizzeria is a business that gives back to the community as much as possible. Island Pizza Owner John Talmage gives back through teaching a finance class in Tampa.

Arnum gives back to the community through local efforts, which includes one rather large project in the Fort Myers community, Pine Manor.

"In Pine Manor we built a kitchen, so people can learn how to become a server, busser, cook, or manager," he said. "Once they reach a certain level at that school, I had three come over here and they prepped with some prep work, did some different kinds of work besides the kitchen."

Arnum also worked with another restaurant, Island BBQ Company, on Palm Ridge Road.

In addition, Island Pizza also gives donations to SCCF, soccer teams, veterans and many more.

"It is important for us because at some point everybody needs some type of help," Arnum said. "A couple weeks ago we had the young kids doing a volunteer carwash at the fire house. They asked to order some pizzas. When I brought the pizzas over there I saw that four pizzas were not going to feed all these kids. I told them to call back to the restaurant and order more pizzas. I'm donating those pizzas to them for their carwash for their cause. They sent me a card in the mail thanking me for the pizza."

Island Pizza gives residents and workers in Sanibel a 10 to 15 percent discount because the reward of giving back to the community is huge to Arnum.

The restaurant has also gone through some changes since he became the general manager. They now blend fresh tomatoes every day. Island Pizza uses local venders and produce with their produce coming straight from farmers in Immokalee.

Island Pizza continues to build, resulting in rising sales. This offseason they were up 25 to 30 percent, although the Lake Okeechobee discharge had hurt their sales.

The outside appearance of the business was also worked on by Arnum, who cleared out bushes that had overgrown hiding the pizzeria.

"When you come into a restaurant, you want somewhere that is going to invite you in," Arnum said. "If you don't have that, then why would you want to visit?"

Arnum pushes himself every day to be the best manager and friend to his employees.

"I feel like I am a principal, or dean of a college. When you deal with people from different walks of life where you manage, we all have different problems and suddenly those problems become yours," he said. "It is really a family that I have here and they all look up to me."

Linda Swoops, social media advisor, runs their online accounts. They are active on Facebook, TripAdvisor, Yelp and www.IslandPizza.net, which she designed.

"One thing I like about what Linda does, is that she is there 24/7" Arnum said." She is passionate about that."

Island Pizza's menu includes such specialty pizzas as the Islander, which includes pepperoni, sausage, meatballs, ham, mushrooms, tomatoes, black olives, green peppers and olives. The menu also includes other items such as hamburgers, subs and shrimp.

Island Pizza is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. Delivery is free. The business is at 1619 Periwinkle Way. For more information, call (239) 472-1581.

 
 

 

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