(File Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
DORAVILLE, Ga. -- Pizza por favor. Three words that Pizza Patron says it never expected to spark a national controversy.
On June 5, customers who visit one of the chain's locations between 5 and 8 p.m. can get a free large pepperoni pizza, as long as supplies last.
But you have to order it in Spanish.
Metro Atlanta customers would have to visit Pizza Patron's only Georiga location in Doraville to get in on the deal. Owner Armando del Bosque says the marketing campaign is about building buzz and creating new customers.
The company appeals heavily to hispanic families. There's Spanish on their advertisements, pizza boxes and the store even accepts pesos for payments.
But del Bosque says they're starting to attract just as many non-hispanic customers who appreciate the taste of their food.
"There will always be controversy around it," del Bosque said. "It can become a political issue, but I think overall, people like it."
The controversy comes from people irritated that in America, they would have to do anything in Spanish. The criticism has even come from members of the Latino community. Marcela Gomez, president of Hispanic Marketing Group told USA Today "Maybe they thought it was a cute thing to do, but I think it's discrimination."
Others don't understand the hoopla. You don't need a long sentence or even perfect Spanish. Del Bosque says you can simply say, "Pizza por favor."
Del Bosque says his store got a jump on the campaign with a test run about two weeks ago. He opened it to parents and students at six schools near the store. Del Bosque says they gave away 500 pizzas in three hours.
Late Wednesday, Pizza Patron corporate officials released a statement:
It's our 26th year in business, so we developed the 'Pizza Por Favor' campaign as a way to celebrate our company's Hispanic focus by creating a fun, 'Spanish language' promotion for all of our fans to enjoy. There have been questions regarding whether or not we will be going forward with the promotion on June 5th, and the answer is yes - absolutely. No one needs to learn the entire language to get a free pizza - it's as easy as saying 'Pizza Por Favor.'