According to a report on azcentral.com, “the sign went up on the door two weeks ago Monday. ‘Farewell to all our friends,’ it began.”
“Word spread quickly, as sad news always does, and on Sunday, the last day, more than a thousand people lined up to say goodbye. The parking lot, lately a wasteland, overflowed with cars. Close to 60 former employees showed up and when things got crazy, a few of them jumped behind the counter and starting rolling dough. If Mark Messner was going to lose his business, they were going to make sure that he went out the same way he lived lo these last 20 years. Serving the south Phoenix community. I met Mark four years ago when his pizza parlor, Pepi’s Pizza, was in trouble. An employee had tested positive for Hepatitis A, resulting in a TV news blitz that scared off Messner’s customers — never mind that any risk had long since passed or that no one had actually gotten sick. Several of his former employees contacted me then, wondering if I would put the word out that a good man was about to lose his business. For 20 years, Mark Messner has been a fixture on South Central, fending off the continual assaults from the pizza chains that surrounded him and out-advertised him but never outsmarted him. His secret weapon: a longtime connection to the place,” the story said.