Big Slice is one of the most popular pizza shops near campus. Megan Matsuda spent a day with its owner
“Make sure I get an extra big slice sir,” says a young blonde woman at the counter, dressed scantily in a tight, short black dress.
She, like many others, is at Big Slice fulfilling late-night cravings after drinking and partying.
She smiles at Abu “Sufie” Sufyan, the owner and manager of Big Slice Pizza, who is helping move along the order line. She looks down at the slice with tipsy amazement, as Sufyan carefully chooses a colossal slice and hands it to her.
The width is larger than two hands put side-byside; most c u s t o m e r s even fold the serving in half to make it easier to eat. The woman accepts the pizza and grins, stumbles into a chair, and starts to bite down into the gooey cheese and crispy crust.
It is around 1 a.m. on a Friday night, and Sufyan, a Pakistani immigrant, has been working since 6 a.m. the previous day. He shuffles around the back of the counter, helping out the workers here and there. He only sits down briefly twice in two hours to answer phone calls for more pizza orders.
Sufyan, 36, used to be a merchant seaman. He started working at around 18 years old, and travelled all around the world as a deckhand. He helped run the ship for four years.
“Too many girls, too much fun,” Sufyan says, reminiscing on the simple and exciting lifestyle he had as a teenager. Later, in 1997, he decided to come to Canada where he started w o r k i n g at Big Slice full time.
“When I first came to Big Slice, I thought I couldn’t do this. I was scared, because this guy came to my other workplace and told me to come work here. I didn’t know the guy. I came on a Saturday night and it was crazy here, so I thought ‘I don’t know.’ I went home and then thought, ‘Why can’t I do this? Everyone here is like me.’”
This turned out to be a good decision.
“I became the manager after one year,” he says with a harsh, determined gaze.
It is now 1:45 a.m. Sufyan looks out into the clusters of people enjoying their food.
“You know this place, so many people meet the girls here, and get married. Lots of girls and guys meet here. When you come from the party, here the music is playing, it’s a good place, right?”
Sufyan should know. He met his wife Natasha here, and has been married to her for six years. Sufyan works two jobs to support his family. Currently, he only works parttime at Big Slice. For the rest of his time, Sufyan runs a magazine and newspaper distribution company.
“You need to divide the time,” he says. “Or else, no time for family. You need to pay the bills, right? Now my kids are going to a private school.”
After starting work at 6 a.m. the previous day, Sufyan will work until 5 a.m., and then he will pack up the building and go home. He mentions at least 150 of their enormous pizzas have been sold. He says today was not that busy.
“Saturday will be better.”