This winter, I took a few minutes to interview Peggy Yerkes from Bono Pizza for a series of interviews that I’ve sort of been afraid to publish. Procrastination, ya know. For months afterwards, I’d go into the restaurant and Bill would chastise me, “Every time I go to Itinerant Foodies, I don’t see my wife.” Thus, I came to a crossroads: either post the piece or avoid the restaurant. The latter seemed too ridiculous an option, so I present the first of our interview series: Behind The Scenes.
There are several reasons I love going to Bono Pizza. Their wood-fired pizzas are the best in Columbus and the BYOB policy is quite nice. But more and more, I find that I want to go see Peggy. It’s no secret that Bill and Peggy Yerkes are the incredible team holding Grandview’s pizza-shop-within-a-convenience-store together. While Bill works the back of house (in a figurative sense; the place is too small to have much of a conventional restaurant feel), Peggy takes charge of the front of house customer service operations. Her duties go far beyond the typical chores of taking orders, seating guests and making change; Peggy will also lend out books, introduce any unique or strange customer to everyone in the ten-seater restaurant, and has been known to chase down young ladies in her parking lot to procure phone numbers for (startled) gentlemen regulars. Peggy is the unconventional matron of this unconventional restaurant; in short, she fits in perfectly.
What is your job, in three words?
Entertain, explain and show off the oven.
[Editorial note: As you can tell from her non-three-word answer, Peggy doesn’t much care about following rules.]
What is the easiest part of being at Bono?
Meeting new, exciting and unusual people.
What’s your favorite item on the menu?
The words to describe our product. [Ed.: Reading the Bono menu is always entertaining. Take, for instance, their description of their Berliner pizza: “ACHTUNG! You vill eat dis! Well… you don’t have to. It sounds awful, but actually tastes good. Fresh Italian tomato sauce, Kielbasa and sauerkraut, fresh mozzarella.”]
What food would folks be surprised to learn that you love?
Number 10B. [Ed.: 10B is the Waikiki (tomato sauce, ham and pineapple) with the addition of cinnamon, roasted almonds and coconut.]
What’s in your fridge at home?
Pizza, related items, tv dinners and lots of garlic.
When did you become professionally invested in food?
I was working for a nursing home and helped people who wanted to eat fresh fruits and vegetables. My clients had grown up with Victory Gardens and understood the value of fresh produce.
When did you become personally invested in food (emotionally)?
When I was working at a retirement community, I found recipes that a client with third stage Alzheimer’s loved and remembered from the past.
Who is your hero?
George Washington Carver. He was the scientist who fed the masses with peanuts. Brilliant.
Carver may have fed the masses with peanuts, but Peggy’s doing it with pizzas. In my mind, they’re both heroes.
1717 Northwest Boulevard