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A Slice of Education

New York Pizza Dept. provides a lesson in food, business and hard work to local homeschoolers

By Taylor Shillam

Post Falls’ New York Pizza Dept. proudly promises pizza that is both authentic and delicious. With an innovative team dedicated to community interaction and support, the NYPD provides a restaurant experience just as authentic as their cuisine.

This fall, the restaurant has taken their community relationships to the next level by providing a unique experience to groups of homeschoolers, hosting field trips that teach students how to create both a pizza and a successful business from scratch.

New York Pizza Dept. owner Glenn Gatherer was inspired to offer the field trips after a local friend inquired about tours for homeschoolers.

“My wife Krista and I talked it over and came up with the idea to offer the field trips,” Gatherer recalled. “I made a Facebook post offering the tours, and it blew up.”

The invitation to the public was simple enough, with a Facebook post calling attention to all homeschooling groups and offering field trips on Mondays, when the restaurant is typically closed.

“We’ll teach the kids how to make pizza and what it takes to run a pizza restaurant,” Gatherer proposed in the post, offering students the chance to come assemble, cook and enjoy their own individual pie.

With a maximum capacity of 20 people per group, the restaurant would welcome students of all ages at no cost. “This is our way of giving back and giving our kids valuable lessons on running a business,” Gatherer wrote.

He strongly believes in the value of the life lessons that come with learning how a successful business runs—and learning it at an early age. “It teaches you so many different values, like working hard for something you enjoy.”

Gatherer started working for his parents at 7 years old, sweeping the floors and stocking shelves. From the early experience, he quickly caught on to the value of earning money, and more importantly, the value of having accomplished something at the end of the day.

After sharing the idea of hosting homeschoolers in his restaurant, it quickly became clear that he wasn’t alone in seeing the value of these concepts. His Facebook post gathered attention rapidly, totaling hundreds of comments, likes and shares.

“In less than an hour, I was booked up until the middle of November,” Gatherer said. After just one more hour, the restaurant had to stop taking new reservations altogether, as the weekly field trips became booked well into February.

The overwhelming response to the idea far surpassed Gatherer’s expectations. When asked to describe the first few homeschoolers’ field trips, he quickly found the word “amazing.”

About 12 students were in attendance at the first homeschoolers’ field trip, with an age range of 2 to 10 years old.

“The kids love it,” Gatherer said. “We teach them all about New York-style pizza. I even teach them how to stretch the dough.”

Each student makes an individual pizza using their toppings of choice, with NYPD staff walking them through the entire process of assembling and cooking the pie.

Students in the second grade and older are given the additional freedom of placing their own toppings.

With so many families turning to homeschooling their children this year, there was immense opportunity and possibility in what could be offered in this realm of education. The opportunity was greater than Gatherer could have imagined.

“The response has been unbelievable,” Gatherer stated. He looks forward to hosting more homeschooling groups in the coming months and sharing his knowledge of business ownership, quality pizza and lifelong learning.

“I tell them that you never stop learning,” Gatherer said of his time with the homeschoolers. “I am still learning each and every day.”

The New York Pizza Dept. isn’t new to building strong community connections.

A locally owned and operated establishment since April 2007, the restaurant hosts special events throughout the year, from pumpkin carvings and whiskey tastings to fundraisers supporting local veterans and law enforcement.

“We love all of our military and first responders,” Gatherer said. That love is made clear in their constant interaction and support for the groups, including events like free lunches for veterans, challenges for charities and a candlelight vigil in remembrance of Officer Greg Moore.

This fall, New York Pizza Dept. has fully restocked and returned to providing their entire menu, offering specialty pizzas, build-your-own pizzas, salads, strombolis, sandwiches and desserts.

With something to offer both students and parents alike, the restaurant invites community members to “stop in for a fresh, piping-hot slice, a cold beer and a great atmosphere.”

Visit the New York Pizza Dept. Tuesday through Saturdays or stop by their next community event, a Japanese whiskey tasting on Saturday, November 21, from 4 to 6pm. For $30, guests can enjoy five whiskey samples and dine on free pizza.

In a year that has seen more students become homeschoolers, more parents become teachers and more business owners face uncharted territory, we can draw inspiration from those who rise to the occasion with creativity and ingenuity.

By providing a unique experience that combines hands-on education, quality cuisine and a break from the everyday routine, the New York Pizza Dept. has given back to the community in more ways than one; including the creation of something special that this year’s homeschoolers aren’t likely to forget.

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