Lunchtime at Crown Pizza in Waterford is like a baseball game at the bottom of the ninth with bases loaded. It’s a culinary World Series, of sorts.
One of staff’s favorite customers is actually playing in the World Series.
“That’s Rajai Davis’ pizza. It gets him to the World Series. It’s the pizza of champions,” said Taso Vitsas about the restaurant’s taco pizza. His family owns Crown Pizza.
Rajai Davis, an outfielder for the Cleveland Indians, grew up in New London, and graduated from New London High School and the University of Connecticut – Avery Point.
That’s where his and Vitsas almost two decade-long friendship began. The two still work out together, break bread together, text, and Davis still frequents Crown Pizza. He even special orders the Taco pizza to have no olives nor jalapeños.
With the Cleveland Indians on a hot streak this season, Vitsas called in a favor.
“Listen, I need tickets to the Wrigley Field World Series,” Vitsas asked Davis. “After they clinched, he texted me, ‘Which game you want to go to?’ ”
As a thank you, Vitsas made Davis a Crown Pizza hat with his name and number “20” on it.
“I believe if he gets me two tickets to the World Series and I get him a hat, I think it’s a fair trade,” Vitsas joked.
Davis posed for pictures, even a selfie in the hat and at one point, placed it down in the Indians’ dugout.
That’s when Crown Pizza was thrust into the national spotlight. The hat showed up on TV, on the Indian’s bench, right next to relief pitcher Andrew Miller.
Dozens of missed calls and texts alerted Vitsas to what happened. All he could do was laugh. So did Davis.
“I just couldn’t believe it. That (the hat) made it up on the World Series with 20 million viewers. You know, something like that typically cost half a million to get that kind of coverage,” Vitsas said.
Vitsas, who always longed to be a professional baseball player, said his dreams of being in the World Series finally came true. While he wished it was him in the dugout, having his hat there was a surreal experience and it’s all thanks to his friend, Rajai Davis.
“Everything was just right. It was just perfect…this is my world series,” Vitsas laughed.
The publicity happened just in time – Crown Pizza is doubling in size, so it will soon be equipped to handle bigger crowds.
Vitsas said he also ordered a Crown Pizza World Series hat that he plans to debut soon, and is looking to create a special menu item for Davis.