Mahjong Pizza has a long tradition of allowing a certain amount of employee innovation. It was hard to forget how the business had been founded on the back of Chad Martinez’s innovations while working at a Hopewell, Michigan Pizza House even among the esoteric college kids who usually donned the red-white-green uniforms. If Martinez could transform the pizza delivery business through his amateur time and motion studies, anybody could.

As such, Anna Grimaldi had to sit through a monthly “innovation meeting.” It meant an extra half-hour on the clock for most people, but the innovations therein tended to be on the prosaic side (multiple magnetic “shark fins” for foggy days, offering a five-pack of breadstick dipping sauces for a reduced fee). Anna’s ideas tended to run afoul of the legal department, which 86’d her idea of the cook writing a personal message on the box of each Mahjong pie, as well as her co-workers, who hadn’t been enthusiastic about writing personalized messages in the first place.

At the February “innovation meeting,” she had another idea: “The florist next door is always throwing out flowers. Why not grab a bunch of them for a few pennies and keep them on the counter for Valentine’s Day? Then everyone who comes in for carry-out can get a flower. Make them feel loved or something.”

“I think we should let people our customers are seeing give them the flowers,” her manager said.

“Come on now,” Anna replied. “Do you think anyone who’s getting carryout pizza on Valentine’s Day is seeing anybody?”

The flowers were out in a crystal vase by 8:02 AM February 14.

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