Elnora McKenzie loves the smell, the texture and the taste of pizza. She enjoys it so much that after leaving the pizza industry to work elsewhere, she returned by opening her own franchise with Hungry Howie's at 675 Tucker Rd. Her affection for the Italian dish obviously shines through because last fall Tehachapi News readership voted Hungry Howie's as producing the best pizza in town.
One of her other joys is how pleased people are to eat pizza. Handing them the box hot with the ever-popular fragrance usually brings a smile to everyone's face. As of Monday, July 7, Stephen Hepner, 60, of Tehachapi will have more smiles than anyone else for miles around because he won a year's worth of the flavored-crusted pies. He jokingly commented that now he will have more friends, especially during the lunch hour.
"I've been a pizza eater since I was four years old," said Hepner. "I've lived 34 years in Tehachapi and believe I've had a pizza every week for that time."
When Hepner saw the five-year anniversary drawing at the Hungry Howie's restaurant, he submitted his name only two times to win the big prize -- 52 large one-topping pizzas.
McKenzie points to her staff of 22 as the main reason she had the opportunity to brag about being voted Tehachapi's Best last fall. "The feedback I've gotten from our customers is that the restaurant is always clean, and the staff is knowledgeable and friendly. I attribute the team building of personnel over the last five years into a crew that like one another and enjoy working with one another as the key factor to our successful achievement of five years in Tehachapi. The competition comes and goes but our product steadily grows."
McKenzie feels the seasonal specials of different crust flavors is another factor that keeps her pizza customers coming back. The barbecue crust popular now will fade for an undisclosed flavor to be revealed for October.
Hungry Howie's is open 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily, 822-1000, hungryhowies.com.