The Goldendale Sentinel - Headlines & History since 1879

By Lou Marzeles

Stranded busload gets care


Heidi Reeves for The Sentinel

PIZZA PRESSED FOR TIME: Papa John's Pizza in Goldendale rose to meet a need for a stranded bus.

Last month a random act of kindness stamped an indelible mark on visitors to Goldendale. It was a mix of a mechanical failure, an event at Maryhill Winery, and a business in town that couldn't say no to an unfolding need.

Rich Marshall of Maryhill Winery tells the story. "At the winery," he begins, "we have times when we bring in our distributors to show them the place of business, give them a dinner, have a good time, just do something to have a good experience. Then they take that back to the field. Most of the time it's the managers who come as a group. So we did that last month, had about 40 people out from the Seattle area. We had a lot of fun, then they got on their bus and left to go back. Craig and Vicki [Leuthold, owners of the winery] had something they were attending, and I had some more business at the winery. So then I get a call: 'Did you hear about the bus?'"

The bus with Maryhill's distributors had broken down on Highway 97 near Box Canyon Road. A call went out for another bus, but it was going to be hours before it got to the site. Vicki Leuthold had just found out and was on the phone with Marshall. "Where are you and what are you doing?" she asked. They talked and realized they had to do something for the stranded visitors.

Marshall was at the Corner Chevron in Goldendale getting gas. The same place where there is a Papa John's Pizza. He had a plan.

Darren Hoffman, manager of the Corner Chevron, recalls Marshall's visit that day. "He came in the store," Hoffman says. "He was kind of panicked because he was headed up the bus to try to see what he could do. I didn't know that at the time. So he asked, 'Can you do 10 pizzas for me?' I said, 'Of course we can. When do you needed it?' And he said, 'Right now.'"

That was a surprise. It's not unusual to get orders of such a volume or higher, but normally the store would a week or more notice in advance so they could prepare for it.

"We did the best we could," Hoffman says. Their best turned out to be really fast. In normal conditions, Hoffman said, a pizza takes 10 to 15 minutes "on a good day when we're doing really good and things go right." The pizza machine is set up for 463 degrees, and the time it takes to run a pizza through it adds up.

That's when Marshall told him the whole story. Hoffman had a total of three people on staff at the time, including himself. The staff got it done-all 10 pizzas in 15 minutes.

"I got some drinks with the order and I took all those up there," Marshall remembers. "And they had a blast."

The meal was timely. This was planned for a day trip, and none of the visitors had extra food while they awaited a new bus hours away.

"They were asking, 'How did you make this happen?'" Marshall says. "They didn't expect anything that quick. I thought it was astonishing. [Darren] gave us a good deal on that, and they were busy. You know, they had people coming and going. He just dropped everything and he got it done. That's someone from the town here who steps up and does things right."

Hoffman says that's just what you do when a need comes up. "If the emergency arises, you know what?" he says. "We're up for the challenge anytime."


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