Well maybe not rolling in the dough in the figurative sense but they sure can count on Linda Wigginton to teach them how to toss it, apply the tomato sauce, then spread the cheese and ingredients to make an excellent pizza. According to Linda, many a local teen has made his or her way to Monticello's Thatzza Pizza for a first job.
Linda and husband Tom moved to the county about 12 years ago from the Phoenix area. At first it was a family relocation with Tom’s father Luther moving into the area from Casper Wyoming. Not long after getting to Monticello Thatzza Pizza was born.
Taking space in a building across the street from Monticello Welcome Center Linda and her daughter Kristy started tossing the dough around nearly 10 years ago. Kristy had other callings so pizza university was open for business with Linda training eager young pizza artisans ever since. Although there was already a pizza place in Monticello when they set up shop, Thatzza Pizza filled a niche. Delivery.
And speaking of delivery. Get this. One recent online reviewer gave Linda’s crew 5 stars, said the meal was “good eating” prices were very reasonable and remarked on the fact they didn’t even question delivering to his semi tractor trailer parked at the local truck stop.
At first carryout and delivery were the only options for patrons but in February space became available in the building next door to Thatzza Pizza. Linda decided a place to sit down and enjoy the food they offered might be nice. Three sit down restaurants had gone out of business over the winter in Monticello. There was definitely room for another dine in option in the little town..
Thatzza Pizza made a deal to rent the space next to them to create a dining room. It was cleaned up, painted and furnished with tables and chairs. And then... A state order that restaurants could not have dining rooms open until the curve of COVID-19 infection had flattened.
“It wasn’t that much of a change for use since we were already doing delivery and carry out anyway, it was more a change back to the way we had been doing things.” Says Linda.
By the first week of May restrictions had eased. The State of Utah used phases to describe conditions and behavior. When the San Juan County Public Health Department reduced restrictions to Moderate-Orange phase, there were still a lot of protocols and restrictions on inside dining. Finally, county Health Director Kirk Benge adjusted San Juan County’s level to low or Yellow phase. The dining room is now open.
And although the COVID-19 responses did have an effect on sales Linda didn’t even consider shutting it all down. “We adjusted our hours but I didn’t want to let anyone go.” She explained. Part of her intention of opening Thatzza Pizza was to create one more entry point for kids in the area to get their first job.
She isn’t quite sure how many local kids have come through the “Thatzza Pizza first paycheck program” but she knows it’s been a bunch of them. She has learned a lot about people and kids and...other people’s kids.
“You can get frustrated with them sometimes but then you have to remember that they are learning. And giving them a place to learn with some...understanding from me, that is important.”
Currently she has 5 employees. And although she does a lot of marketing to the visitors in the hotels, Thatzza Pizza is well known to those who have a permanent address in the area too.
“I have been really happy with the community support.” She says with a smile and light in her eyes. The smile turns into an ear to ear grin when asked what the largest number of pizzas cooked in one day was. “We did 150 pizzas in one day!”
Thatzza Lotta Pizza!