When students name their favorite downtown establishments in Hamilton, they usually mention New York Pizzeria. The infamous gathering spot, fondly referred to as “Slices,” has been an integral part of the Colgate community since 1977, providing customers with both delivery and in-parlor service, while staying open extra-late on weekends just for the college crowd.
For students, the word “Slices” conjures up hazy memories (or lack thereof) of laughs, regretted hookups, and the unforgettable aroma of pizza that always satisfies a late-night craving.
Slices is the place where everyone seems to know your name, but where the people behind the counter are often overlooked. These familiar strangers, usually only seen through the blurry medium of beer goggles, make it their business to make this restaurant a lot more than just a place to go after a visit to The Old Stone Jug.
For almost 27 years, Everett Hance has owned and operated New York Pizzeria. Every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday night Hance and his wife, LouAnn, serve close to 400 hungry, demanding and often belligerent Colgate students.
“When there are 2,700 students, it’s hard to learn names,” said LouAann with a grin, “though I do recognize a lot of people.”
Faced with one of the busiest and most hectic jobs in town, they always handle themselves with class, deciphering slurred words with ease and combating drunken insults with a smile.
Although their slices come plain only, their job is anything but routine. Customer flow ranges from local families, visiting high schoolers on campus visits, college students grabbing a slice for dinner with friends and more boisterous, drunken groups on the weekends. The Hances have learned to be prepared for anything, especially on Saturday nights.
“One spring, a kid walked in, tied his shirt over his face so as not to be identified, and dropped his boxer shorts!” recalled LouAnn. “Then he just pulled them back up and walked out the door.”
Everett also remembered some other odd occurances involving Colgate students, especially one incident which happened “a few years back” during Spring Party Weekend.
“There had been people lining the store wall-to-wall all day,” Hance said. “When closing time came, we saw that one guy had passed out on the floor in front of the counter; he may have been there for hours!”
Though the amount of alcohol in the bloodstreams of their college-age patrons may not have decreased through the years, since the 1980’s, the owners of Slices have noticed a dramatic drop in the intensity of public displays of affection in their store.
“We see a lot of kissing, which is fine. People used to have sex in the bathroom in the ’80’s and we would have to open the door and kick them out,” said LouAnn.
Fortunately, these absurd happenings have been kept to a minimum, and the behavior of customers seldom becomes dangerous – the police have only been called three times in the last 25 years.
To the countless students who party too hard and get sick at Slices, LouAnn has some simple advice.
“If you don’t drink the hard alcohol, you probably won’t get sick,” Hance, the woman who often cleans up after them, said. “Stick with beer. You get full, but not sick.”
Even after taking into account the unpredictability and general craziness that goes along with being a full-time employee at New York Pizzeria, Everett and LouAnn would not have it any other way.
The Hances find it a rewarding experience to serve slices to the Hamilton community and Colgte’s students, a task that should not go unappreciated by consumers.
These generous entrepreneurs are not simply faces in the crowd, but dedicated, patient individuals who willingly contribute to the Colgate college experience.