When campus bars close at 2 a.m., drunken University students take to the streets like a flood of children rushing out of elementary school for recess. Though some students stumble right home, many aren’t quite ready to call it a night. Fortunately for them, near-by pizza joint employees have their spatulas ready and waiting.
But while the post-bar pizza scene is most often seen through the blurred lenses of students anxious for food to soak up the Long Island Ice Teas in their stomachs, employees of late-night restaurants have a much different account of the nightly feeding frenzies.
It’s hard not to, said Clara Griffin, manager of the William Street NYPD, when kids routinely yell “I’M SO DRUNK” throughout the night.
“A lot of the drunk people haven’t quite gotten over the thrill of being drunk,” Griffin said.
Griffin said the overly enthused night crowd tends to wear their hearts on their sleeves and not keep too quiet about it.
Among the congealed salad dressing, spilled Coca-Cola and discarded pizza crusts littering the floor of NYPD are the shattered hopes of bar-goers whose nights didn’t turn out right. Oftentimes, Griffin said, men angry about ending up alone after the bar vent their frustrations in between ordering their slices.
“All the pent-up emotions from the bar ooze out in a trail,” she said. “All these guys are at the counter saying, ‘Fucking bitch, I fucking bought her so many drinks.’ “
But for every guy who’s disappointed that he’s still with his boys, there’s another who’s making out against the counter.
Griffin said the crowd drawn from the nearby club Necto on Friday night – the bar’s gay night – is the most promiscuous one of the week.
“I don’t see guys and girls make out as much as I see guys and guys,” Griffin said.
Sometimes, though, things can get too hot. Griffin said couples will routinely lock the bathrooms so they can have sex. The women’s bathroom was out of commission for weeks after two people getting intimate on top the sink caused it to rip out of the wall.
Any business that stays open late quickly gets accustomed to inebriation-induced antics, Griffin said, but dealing with the swarm of kids from Scorekeepers Bar and Grill, located right around the corner from NYPD, can be “misery.”
“It’s just like, ‘Oh my god, shut up!’ ” she said.
And amid the backdrop of binge drinking, things can turn destructive.
“For a lot of these kids, it’s a consequence-free environment,” Griffin said.
She said she’s found pizza smeared against the walls, a toppled-over gumball machine and condoms left in “conspicuous spots” around NYPD.
The restaurant once had a message board customers could write on, but this proved to be a mistake.
“Every bar rush, people would write dirty little messages and draw penises,” she said.
Between the slurred orders and drunken mishaps also comes a disposition that an otherwise sober customer probably wouldn’t display. Customers will claim they’ve paid when they haven’t, take a bite of a piece and try to trade it for another and get high and mighty over a forgotten ranch packet.
“People’s sense of entitlement and brattiness comes out when they drink,” Griffin said. “People really like ranch dressing when they’re drunk, too.”
With alcohol comes aggression, but employees of late-night restaurants said fights are rare.
“I would say 95 percent of the time, everyone’s just in a good mood,” said David Root, the general manager at Backroom Pizza on Church Street. A couple years ago, Root said, a student who thought he wasn’t given enough change peed all over the counter. But that was the worst of the worst.
Joey Zeer, the owner of In ‘N’ Out Pizza on East University Avenue, said he’s grown used to the nightly occurrences of weird exchanges, public affections and generally drunken behavior.
“I’m just like, ‘Alright, fine,’ ” Zeer said.
Although he tries to ignore most of the banter and explicit behavior, he said, some stuff is hard to miss. Once, Zeer said, a drunken customer took a liking to a large cut-out of a woman promoting a beer brand. “The guy just took it and started making out with it,” Zeer said.
Root said it’s hard not to catch clips of rowdy patrons’ conversations.
“It’s always the play-by-play of what just happened at the bar,” he said.
And for many students, Root and Griffin said, the restaurant is a last-ditch effort to meet a (temporarily) special someone.
“It’s the last chance for people to get someone to go home with them,” Root said. “Everyone’s extra charming.”
He said that while oftentimes pick-ups lines over pizza get shot down, he’s witnessed one couple verify each other’s names in between making out in line.
But while it’s safe to say that late night customers tend to be tougher to handle than their daytime counterparts, their business is much relied upon. On weekend nights, most campus pizza spots have lines to the door – at least. Root said between 2 a.m. and 3 a.m. is their busiest time of night.
“Basically, all day long is waiting for the night to happen,” Root said. On their busiest nights, Backroom can sell over 800 slices of pizza in just one hour after the bars close their doors.
Anna Grillo, whose sons own both NYPDs on campus, agreed. Grillo said that while there is a solid lunch hour, the restaurants are undoubtedly most crowded past midnight.
But even though fights break out and the restaurants get trashed, Grillo, an elderly Italian woman who came to the United States 22 years ago, has fun watching students eat their pizza with friends.
“Despite of all the beers they are very polite to me,” she said. “If they don’t do the crazy stuff now, when are they gonna do it?”