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S05.E15: Simply Slices

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At a small family-run pizza chain, the proud patriarch is squeezing the life out of the business; he has long dreamed of taking his drive-through pizza concept nationwide, but he's so resistant to change that he alienates potential franchisees.

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This show was a waste of time. It seems as if to qualify as a contender on The Profit, you have to convince the producers that you have some terrible family conflict going on or some other form of high drama. Can't they just find decent people who genuinely want to build their businesses with Marcus's help? 

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Can you imagine toiling away in food service, month after month, in one of those tiny stores where you are constantly working with your family? A family that is always up each other's asses and revels in snake-eats-tail? Smelling the same pizza sauce and dough for hours and hours while everyone you knew in high school drives through? A true circle of hell.

Edited by Josiah Bounderby
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Sheesh what a moron Dino is.  Marcus got absolutely nowhere with dude. Usually Marcus tries to implement something, he didn't even get that far. And I cant imagine anyone wanting to franchise with that dude presenting the concept.

 

That's an hour of my life I wont get back...    :(

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Dino is the new poster boy for ASSHOLE.

I feel so bad for his wife. His kids. His employees. Anyone within breathing distance.

And I also agree this show was a waste of airtime, never should have been made into an episode. Unless Marcus is a sadist who wants to get back at Dino the ASSHOLE.

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After 5 years the asshole bosses continue, but at least they're getting smarter about avoiding the camera.  And hey, we got like 8 minutes of business talk between the drive-through, the menu, and the sourcing.

On the first: Average time at a McDonald's drive-through is 3.5 minutes. So targeting under 4 was smart.

On the second: OK it's cool that Marcus showed off his social media reach. But shouldn't the decision to pare down the menu be based on what sells? Why ask your random group what flavors they like when you have hard numbers?

On the third: I didn't recognize Fabio until he started talking. Not a bad connection for Marcus to have. (Much better than Robert Irvine, who was tweeting love back and forth with Marcus a few weeks ago.)

Well, congrats to Dino on a giant ad why no one should ever buy a franchise from you.

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Holy crap, Dino was...something else. Dino was more than just a little tightly wound, he was a manipulative asshole. I felt so bad for his poor kids, especially the one at the different location. It legitimately concerned me that Dino seemed to be cutting Doug off from his siblings. That kind of isolation and stress is classic manipulation. Marcus is well shot of him and it makes me wonder why Marcus was so dead-set on going into business with him because Dino's manipulative behavior was visible from a mile away.

1 hour ago, Amarsir said:

On the second: OK it's cool that Marcus showed off his social media reach. But shouldn't the decision to pare down the menu be based on what sells? Why ask your random group what flavors they like when you have hard numbers?

Totally agreed. I assume it was supposed to be a focus group-type situation and it made for better TV than simply going over the numbers, but what they were keeping should have been a question of what sells vs. what doesn't.

I noticed when Marcus was talking about ticking boxes and wondering why he'd been called, I think he said something about the daughter ticking a box for him, namely the family issues. I can't tell if that was Marcus admitting he just wants to be Business Oprah or if he was saying that the family called him because of their issues with each other. Either way, after the last few episodes, I'm really burning out on the "let's watch some assholes try to business" concept.

Edited by BabyVegas
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Dino may have taken the DB crown from the phone case guy.  What an raging asshole.  His wife gave me hostage vibes...I think Dino puts her in an underground bunker when she isn't at the pizza place.  The daughter had the same "Oh shit!  He's coming!", rabbit caught in a trap look when her dad was present.  Good luck to the rest of Dino & Deb's kids.  I hope there is an escape plan in the works.

As for the business itself...no thanks.  There are soooo many pizza options, both chains & local mom n' pop shops.  Unless that pizza can blow the others out of the water with it's quality, then it will be a big battle to win.  By the looks of the pizza Simply Slices is offering, I'm guessing it isn't anything special.  Generic, canned "purr-eee" sauce, crust that isn't Chicago deep dish or brick oven crispy can be had from Pizza Hut or Dominos or Papa John's.  I was really turned off by the way they "customized" their pizza slice!  Peel back the congealed cheese, plop down some cold meats or veggies, replace cheese blanket, reheat.  Um, pass.  Maybe it's a regional thing, but I prefer my toppings ON TOP of my pizza.  I also do not get the drive thru concept for pizza.  Again, regional thing possibly, but I don't think handling a hot piece of pizza while driving is as easy as eating a burger or chicken tenders.  I can't imagine giving my kid a slice of pizza in the backseat of my car! Unless the drive thru supplies a plastic drop cloth with my slice, no pizza eating in the car.

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I haven't seen the episode yet, but it doesn't sound good....  I'm at least glad they got to an interesting type of business.  I like food products because there's something there that makes sense.  A cell phone case or a pair of sunglasses is a commodity I can buy in any Walmart and who cares what "message" is behind it or how hip it is.  Food I can relate to because you can make better food than competitors. 

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So how does this Dino guy compare to Andrew from L.A. Dogworks?  Because Andrew was a downright honest to goodness psychopath.  If Dino is that bad I don't want to see it.  It will just make me depressed.

Edited by Ray Adverb
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I tuned into this show expecting to see the Profit and instead got an episode of Dr Phil. I think if the cameras weren't there , Dino might have slugged Dr Marcus. What I want to see on this show is a business that's doing ok but wants to improve itself. Marcus comes in and shows them how to cut costs , better marketing etc, You know , things that make a business successful. Is that too much to ask ? Enough with all the drama.

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51 minutes ago, BusyOctober said:

I also do not get the drive thru concept for pizza. 

I agree with you overall about it not being something I'd normally eat in the car (or give to passengers).  I like the drive-thru concept for take-home.  I take my dog for a car ride every weekend and we stop and pick up food.  With the weather as hot as it is right now, I'm wary of leaving her in the car to run in and pick up pizza when I order it.  I always order my pizza ahead, would be great to just be able to drive through and pick it up rather than going in.  I don't know that this business is really that (did they say whether people could order ahead by phone or app and pick up through the window?)

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Yea, drive-through pizza taking America by storm -- seems like a longshot. Marcus basically admitted it was a longshort. Pizza isn't car food and not everyone is such a caring dog owner. But. I think Taco Bell is pretty awkward car food and that's a huge triumph, so..

Edited by Josiah Bounderby
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I found this episode more sad than anything else.  Dino is so scared that some harm will come to his wife and kids that he's become their worst enemy instead of their protector.  I think his intentions are good; he's just so controlling!  And the daughter said he'd gotten much worse once the one son died of an overdose.  Dino did everything he could to keep the "real world" away from his family, yet it creeped in anyway, so he's doubled down on his controlling behavior.  No good can come from this.

Business-wise, I liked the pizza concept, and I think Marcus was right to get involved.  Unlike the fashion industry, where I think Marcus' abilities are dubious at best, he really seems to understand these restaurants/food concepts and excels at them.  I enjoyed all the steps he was taking early on, timing the drive-through time, checking the menu for popular items (I think he was using the focus group gathering as just a quick-and-dirty starting point), and talking about assuaging potential franchisees' concerns before they could raise them.  I would trust him with my business if I were in that industry.

Marcus could have told Dino, "I don't care what you do involving your family, that's your business.  Let's just concentrate on the pizza business itself.", but I think Dino's controlling ways would have interfered in that situation as well (but not as badly).  I noticed that Doug and his wife didn't even consider Marcus' offer to help them start their own pizza business.  They're both too much under Dino's thumb.  I felt bad for them the most.

When Marcus took the family to his Simple Greek restaurant, I thought he was trying to threaten them with, "See, this is what happens when a family business gets in my way.  I fire the family and take over the business for myself! mwahahahaha!"

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Dino's manipulative craziness aside, I found the pizza totally unappetizing to look at.

When they lifted the cheese up with their fingers (and the cheese was now hard from being out for so long) to slide the toppings underneath it, I thought to myself. "There's no way I'd ever eat that."

And Marcus is right. To me, the sauce makes the pizza a pass or a fail.

Maybe this explains the Dino household a bit...

https://www.realityblurred.com/realitytv/2018/07/profit-simply-slices-dino-pavoni-worlds-strictest-parents/

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They have a drive through at a pizza place around here.  I've never used it though.  Doesn't pizza take a long time to prepare?  I don't know that it keeps as well under heat lamps as burgers and such do.

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9 hours ago, Amarsir said:

On the second: OK it's cool that Marcus showed off his social media reach. But shouldn't the decision to pare down the menu be based on what sells? Why ask your random group what flavors they like when you have hard numbers?

My impression is that they DIDN’T have hard numbers, which is why he culled together a random focus group.  Did you notice the “financials” that Dear Old Dad provided?  Very, very basic - Sales made, money spent.  I think Marcus would have been very impressed if DOD had provided a detailed P&L.  Plus, even DOD would know enough to trim down his flavors drastically to match what is actually popular.  I think.  

My DVR cut off at the exact one hour mark so I’d love to know if anything happened with the ostracized son.  

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Their pizza reminded me of the Chef-Boy-Ardee box kits my Mom would get when I was a kid. My first thought when Marcus pulled into the drive-thru and placed his order was “How long do you have to sit in your car and wait for them to make a pizza?” Then I saw the ugly truth.

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8 hours ago, Ray Adverb said:

So how does this Dino guy compare to Andrew from L.A. Dogworks?  Because Andrew was a downright honest to goodness psychopath.  If Dino is that bad I don't want to see it.  It will just make me depressed.

 

Dino is much more self-aware, and I agree with @Gregg247 that it's coming more from grief and a fear of losing people than from an ego trip. I couldn't work with him, but unlike Andrew I feel like Dino is more likely to break down into tears than into violence.

5 hours ago, Ray Adverb said:

They have a drive through at a pizza place around here.  I've never used it though.  Doesn't pizza take a long time to prepare?  I don't know that it keeps as well under heat lamps as burgers and such do.

Little Caesar's adopted the "Hot-N-Ready" model a few years back. Very simply if you order a large plain or pepperoni you can get it instantly. Five bucks. (They also have personal-sized plus drink for $5, or a new extra pepperoni for $6.) While I consider their recipe to be too bready, I don't think the pizza suffers for sitting in the warming station. No worse than bouncing around in a delivery guy's '03 Camry. So a drive-through would fit them fine. And although I've never seen one, a search tells me that LC is already doing that as well. And at a price point well below what Simply Slices wanted to do.

Also lots of pizza places sell by-the-slice if you come in. Notably S'barro's at malls. So that isn't really a killer.

The awkward thing was allowing customization. I admit that lifting up the cheese to put ingredients underneath didn't look great. Maybe it works out OK, or maybe I'd rather have a much more limited menu that I know was recently cooked for the first time.

5 hours ago, LisainCali said:

My impression is that they DIDN’T have hard numbers, which is why he culled together a random focus group.  Did you notice the “financials” that Dear Old Dad provided?  Very, very basic - Sales made, money spent.  I think Marcus would have been very impressed if DOD had provided a detailed P&L.  Plus, even DOD would know enough to trim down his flavors drastically to match what is actually popular.  I think.  

They must know on some level what was reordered, even if the POS system doesn't say and he didn't have tallies handy According to Marcus on Twitter, 7 flavors made up 90% of the sales.

Edited by Amarsir

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I think the rando group was designed to be fun kinda dumb. Much better than traditional focus group in a conference room.

1. Marcus loves being social media diva.

2. Producers knew Chicagoans would be cranky loudmouths.

3. It was visual: crammed store, Marcus up and down ladder with tape.

4. Producers knew it would drive Dino fucking crazy...partic when the African-American dude said the pizza was worth $15. Dino didn’t like that!

Edited by Josiah Bounderby
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I'm only 2 minutes in, and Marcus has already said something that boggles my mind. Never seen drive-thru pizza?!? Are you serious?? Fazoli's has been around for 30 years and has 215 locations across the US. Don't try to convince us that you've discovered some new concept. But Fazoli's is now known for pasta, not pizza -- why? Because fast food custom pizza doesn't work. Fazoli's figured it out decades ago and dramatically pared down their pizza offerings. And Marcus has to already know that.

Yes, with high quality dough and a hot enough convection oven, you can make a really good pizza surprisingly fast. But you can't quickly make custom slices over and over without significant waste.

OK, I've finished the episode now, and I'd like my hour back. This was everything that I dislike about this show all rolled up into one. There wasn't a single moment during the hour when I thought they'd actually be in business together. It was total producer setup. Fast food pizza is a proven failure as a business model, so why is Marcus there? It's obvious the owner's a dick, so instead of just walking away, they construct scenarios just to piss him off.

The pizza sauce? Come on. You can make a really good sauce from puree. That's just bullshit. Sure, you can do better with scratch tomatoes, but it's fucking fast food. My SO is Sicilian and makes a killer sauce, and most days we start with a canned base to save time. It's still fantastic.

And then the focus group? Marcus was totally baiting Dino. He could have handled that so much better, but he just wanted a reaction for the cameras. It was so obvious there wasn't going to be a deal, so he was just messing with the guy. Same with putting him on a team with Doug.

What a load of crap. I foolishly thought we were moving past this nonsense, but this was totally a producer episode with no chance of any long-term deal. What a waste of time.

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I watched this last night.  Fortunately, Dino was not nearly as bad as Andrew.  I kinda didn't think Dino was that bad at all.  Pretty controlling, but on the other hand it seemed like Marcus went out of his way to push Dino's buttons.  The impromptu focus group was full of people who, I think, just wanted to be on TV and screw around. 

 

Cutting down the flavors on the crushed ice novelties was stupid.  Look at literally any ice cream shop.  They have a wide variety of flavors.  Holding extra syrups would be only a marginal increase in costs.  Marcus' whole idea seemed hinged on the idea that customers are too stupid to pare down a large menu.  A large menu I have no problem with, but those fucking TV screens they have for the menus at McDonalds drive me nuts.  How do I decide what I want when the god damn menu changes every 4 seconds?

 

Then that thing where he tells the 2 stores to come up with concepts on a $30,000 budget.  He deliberately put Dino with the son and employee he didn't get along with.  Stop fucking with them Marcus.  Don't introduce extra, needless tension because either A) Amber told you to do so to make better television or B) you just want to be the family therapist you are grossly unqualified to be.

 

From what I saw, Simply Slices was a family owned business doing decent business, if not knockout national franchise business.  Dino had hopes, but Marcus was too aggressive with it.  It sort of reminds me of the story of McDonalds, and that movie "The Founder".  I don't think Dino really needs a Ray Kroc in his life right now.

 

I will give credit where credit is due though.  It was nice to see an episode that wasn't about a fashion thing for once.  I'm not as sick of the "Doctor Phil-ing" that Marcus does as other people are.  I am pretty sick of "This pair of ordinary khaki pants is all about saving people from pancreatic evaporation and 12% of the proceeds go to pancreatic evaporation research.  It is very near and dear to the owner's heart because he lost his mother, sister, aunt, uncle, and dog at the age of 7 when all their pancreases evaporated."

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I was fascinated by the pasta-roller-type machine that flattened the pie dough. I've never seen that before, only swarthy dudes tossing the stuff in the air and embiggening them by hand. (OK, so maybe I don't get out much.)

I was annoyed by all those glowing green and blue headsets that nobody ever took off. 

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51 minutes ago, attica said:

I was fascinated by the pasta-roller-type machine that flattened the pie dough. I've never seen that before, only swarthy dudes tossing the stuff in the air and embiggening them by hand. (OK, so maybe I don't get out much.)

I was annoyed by all those glowing green and blue headsets that nobody ever took off. 

I didn't catch machine Simply Slices was using, but Blaze pizza uses an industrial looking machine press to shape their crusts. I assume most of the big pizza chains use something similar for most of their pizzas, but I could be wrong.

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1 hour ago, attica said:

I was fascinated by the pasta-roller-type machine that flattened the pie dough. I've never seen that before, only swarthy dudes tossing the stuff in the air and embiggening them by hand. (OK, so maybe I don't get out much.)

I was annoyed by all those glowing green and blue headsets that nobody ever took off. 

I haven't noticed them at pizza places but I did go to a calzone place last Saturday that used it.  It really is a handy tool to streamline the production process and ensure better standardization.

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3 hours ago, Ray Adverb said:

I watched this last night.  Fortunately, Dino was not nearly as bad as Andrew.  I kinda didn't think Dino was that bad at all.  Pretty controlling, but on the other hand it seemed like Marcus went out of his way to push Dino's buttons.  The impromptu focus group was full of people who, I think, just wanted to be on TV and screw around. 

This is the first time I recall everyone showing up to the "focus group" with their phones out to video the process. Very scientific.

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And another thing. Marcus's makeover idea was to spend $30k on each of 2 stores to get them to look different? Isn't it very specifically his point on franchises that above all else they need to look the same? Was he just setting them up to fight?

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I think his point was to get them generating ideas about a makeover, and it avoids groupthink for them to brainstorm separately. Presumably, they'd do an idea reconciliation thing and implement the best ones for everybody. I think. Don't know for sure.

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2 hours ago, attica said:

I think his point was to get them generating ideas about a makeover, and it avoids groupthink for them to brainstorm separately. Presumably, they'd do an idea reconciliation thing and implement the best ones for everybody. I think. Don't know for sure.

That's the way I saw it too - take 30 days, come up with some ideas, without the influence of the other team.  Then sit down and look at what each team came up with and take the best ideas of both moving forward.

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I’m at the point where I think Marcus is more interested in having crazy apeshit people on the show, for ratings, than actually investing in a business.

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On 7/11/2018 at 2:08 AM, Amarsir said:

On the first: Average time at a McDonald's drive-through is 3.5 minutes. So targeting under 4 was smart.

I was stunned that when Marcus timed it, it was over 5 minutes.  That is an interminable time to wait for one order when you're sitting in a drive-thru, let alone what would happen if there were multiple cars in front of you. 

On 7/11/2018 at 8:19 AM, BusyOctober said:

 I was really turned off by the way they "customized" their pizza slice!  Peel back the congealed cheese, plop down some cold meats or veggies, replace cheese blanket, reheat.  Um, pass.  Maybe it's a regional thing, but I prefer my toppings ON TOP of my pizza.  

I had actually been confused as to what the heck was being peeled off and put back, so I'm glad you explained it!

On 7/11/2018 at 9:13 AM, Orillia said:

What I want to see on this show is a business that's doing ok but wants to improve itself. Marcus comes in and shows them how to cut costs , better marketing etc, You know , things that make a business successful. Is that too much to ask ? Enough with all the drama.

Maybe I'm being naive, but in the earlier days, I thought it genuinely was companies that were struggling and really needed Marcus' help.  Now it seems more like Marcus actively seeking companies to fit in his portfolio, and yeah maybe they're struggling and might want his help.

On 7/11/2018 at 9:52 AM, Gregg247 said:

I noticed that Doug and his wife didn't even consider Marcus' offer to help them start their own pizza business.  They're both too much under Dino's thumb.  I felt bad for them the most.

I was very confused about the whole split into the second location.  They made it sound like it was accomplished in a contractual and legal way.  If so, then Dino couldn't have just pulled the rug out from under them as was being portrayed.  I can't imagine why Doug and his wife wouldn't have jumped at the chance to start their own pizza business, considering that any semblance of there still being a family is a total illusion, so there isn't anything to protect or risk losing...cause it's already gone and lost.

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I’ve decided that Dino and Mrs Dino  believe that their appearance on The Profit was a big success. This family has made a practice of seeking out reality TV fame. And they got a little. Dino got to show the world that no one can push him around. Dino got to show the world that he is keeping his family “together” (which means obedient.) That is Dino!

Edited by Josiah Bounderby
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On 7/11/2018 at 9:13 AM, Orillia said:

I tuned into this show expecting to see the Profit and instead got an episode of Dr Phil.

I'm with you on that. It seems the viewers want family drama and/or a stubborn, tyrannical business owner, and if the show can find a business that combines both then jackpot!  But some of us are in the minority and would rather just watch Marcus assess a business and its issues like only he can.  He's what keeps me watching, not the tears that are shed in every damn episode!

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I started watching this show a few months ago and have enjoyed watching the episodes up until the recent ones.  Dino was a total train wreck, but I did think that Marcus did go out of his way to 'poke the crazy'.  There's no way he didn't know that the "focus group" was a pretty useless technique and would drive the guy crazy.  He did it to provoke a reaction.  And I call foul on the whole setup related to working with Fabio. Despite their intent to make things seem spontaneous, this is a TV show. My bet is that they knew the guy wasn't coming and Marcus calling him to see where he was just played into the storytelling.

Unless I missed something, nowhere in the episode did they say that anyone from the pizza place reached out to the show. As others have noted above, drive through pizza isn't exactly the cure for penicillin. 

I wonder if there's something in the contracts for the show that specify that if Marcus visits the business for an "insiders look" that he cannot go into competition with them.  If Marcus really thinks drive through pizza is a great idea (I guarantee he doesn't), he'd be better off to do it himself without any of the people from the episode. They bring nothing to the table at all.

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There is a small chain called Pizza Studio that is like Subway for pizza. They don't have a drive through, but what they do have is thin crust pizza and a super hot oven that cooks it in like 90 seconds. To me a drive through place needs to do that and/or have a selection of already made pizzas. Pulling back the cheese and throwing in "bottomings" is ridiculous.

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I didn't get the end part. It seemed like Marcus was willing to cut Dino loose and go into business with Doug and his wife. Why wouldn't they jump at that opportunity if there is such a strained relationship trying to work with pops. Then Doug made a huge point of saying it was HIS decision to walk away and not Dino pushing him out, but it seemed OTT, like he was trying to protect Dino. I don't know, I was too drunk to figure out whatever bullshit was going on there. Then all of a sudden Marcus is saying Dino loves his kids SO MUCH that the whole deal is off. Um, really, okay that's not what I got from this. 

Edited by TVbitch
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Most of the good Pizza places I go to have pre-cooked cheese pizzas that they throw toppings onto when you order a slice and then put back in the oven for a few minutes, so I can see how drive through might work but I have no desire to eat it in the car. 

But I do get a few slacks takeout fairly regularly and I've never wished there was a drive through.

 

also, the owner guy sucks and I was glad he ended up rejected by Marcus.

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I watched the behind the scenes edition this week.  As usual it makes me crazy that Marcus sticks around to be abused by people like this.

Maybe it makes for good TV so they don't want to pull the plug too quickly. But it's painful to watch.

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On the one hand, I see what Dad was trying to do--protect his kids from the Big Bad World.  On the other hand, the way he was going about it almost gauranteed an unhappy family and some kids ready and eager to test out all the "forbidden fruit" they were deprived of for all those years.  (I knew kids I grew up with who weren't allowed to watch TV.  They became voracious TV viewers once they got out from under their parents' thumb.)

Plus, Dad was an absolute jerk (Mom was no better, really).  Those grown children are petrified of their parents.  The spouses of the grown children are petrified of their in-laws.  What a weird family.  I'm glad I only know them from TV and not in person!

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What amazed me is the son could have gone with Marcus, and then had a successful business.  Instead, he caved to the extortion by the father, and will be an employee of that bully forever.  

The saddest thing is that instead of building a family business that will last, the father is creating a family, and a business that won't outlast him.      No one except the father is allowed to decide anything, nothing changes unless he wants it to, and everyone will be helpless without him. 

Edited by CrazyInAlabama
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On 7/26/2019 at 9:57 AM, Gregg247 said:

On the one hand, I see what Dad was trying to do--protect his kids from the Big Bad World.  On the other hand, the way he was going about it almost gauranteed an unhappy family and some kids ready and eager to test out all the "forbidden fruit" they were deprived of for all those years.  (I knew kids I grew up with who weren't allowed to watch TV.  They became voracious TV viewers once they got out from under their parents' thumb.)

Plus, Dad was an absolute jerk (Mom was no better, really).  Those grown children are petrified of their parents.  The spouses of the grown children are petrified of their in-laws.  What a weird family.  I'm glad I only know them from TV and not in person!

I knew a kid whose mother would never let her have anything unhealthy EVER. This kid would binge eat a gallon of ice cream and a bag of potato chips any time she got out from under her mother’s thumb. It is no surprise as an adult she has a severe weight problem.

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