Nick D’Allessandro doesn’t want his pizzeria’s Instagram page to be consumed by pizza photos. So he’s added pictures of pizza boxes scrawled with handwritten messages to the feed.
In early January, the 36-year-old co-owner of D’Allessandro’s Pizza started writing on pizza boxes with the hope of entertaining those who follow the restaurant on social media.
His "daily box message" routine goes about how it sounds. D’Allessandro writes a brief note on a cardboard pizza box and posts a photo of it on D’Al’s Instagram page.
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The simple messages have ranged from silly: “You’re never too old to fold!” to straightforward: “Help someone today.” At least one was a pun: “This is a pizza of my art.”
Some note ideas have come easily, such as when D’Allessandro wrote happy birthday to a friend, “Congratulations Clemson!” and, more than once, displayed pride for the Philadelphia Eagles (He and his brother, Ben, who opened the restaurant together in 2006 are originally from Pennsylvania).
On other occasions, “I would stand there and try to think of something,” he said.
After sharing the photo to the account’s 5,000 followers, D'Allessandro adds the box to the stack of others ready to be filled with pies.
“It’s totally random who gets that box,” he said. “It’s a surprise.”
D’Allessandro said he has heard from a few customers who received a box with a message.
“My wife got one, randomly,” he said. “I don’t know if many people look at the top of their pizza box, though.”
D’Allessandro spent the summer on a different social media strategy: He folded one pizza box each day and posted a video of the process as a story on Instagram.
“That was catching on,” he said. “But I needed something to post photos of each day."
His box message series has slowed to an occasional series because of mixed feedback from customers and followers.
“Some people really liked it and other people were sort of over it after awhile,” D'Allesandro said. “They were like, ‘Now your Instagram feed is all boxes.’”
His mother, for example, was in the “over it” camp. “She asked me when I was going to stop doing it,” he said with a laugh.
“Social media is tough,” D’Allessandro added. “It’s difficult to keep making posts everyday of your life about the pizza shop and still make it creative.”
On Instagram, he also regularly shares photos of the restaurant's pizzas of the month, his cycling adventures and his family. He said he plans to bring back the box messages for special occasions, such as Pi Day on Thursday.
"Maybe I'll do it more," he said. "It's just something fun to do."
Before making up his mind, it seems he wanted to pose the question to D'Als Instagram followers.
A few minutes after his interview with The Post and Courier on Wednesday, a new posted appeared on the restaurant's page. It was photo of a pizza box etched with this message: “Bring back the box?”