Mario’s Pizza, a long-running neighborhood pizzeria in Orlando with a deliciously distinctive menu, hit upon a flashy way to get customers’ attention on social media: flash sales.

“On random days, we will post on social media certain things that are discounted or free for a certain time,” Jennifer Magadan, who has managed the neighborhood pizza shop for more than 10 years, told PMQ. Although the marketing strategy was originally tied in with last year’s National Pizza Month, it can be implemented at any time to generate buzz around a pizza brand, especially an independent newcomer with the flexibility to create specials on the fly.

Mario’s unleashed its first flash sale on Tuesday, October 3. Between 6 and 9 p.m. that day—Magadan called it “pizza happy hour”—customers received 50% off any extra-large pizza if they placed the order online and picked it up at the pizza shop. They also had to use a special promo code—PIEDEAL—to qualify.

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To build up excitement, Mario’s announced the flash-sale deal with a reel on Instagram and Facebook posted on the afternoon of October 2.

The single-unit pizzeria gave away free food, too, via Facebook, Instagram and TikTok, all month long. On October 1, a separate post offered followers a chance to win a free large Mario’s specialty pizza or three-topping pizza. To win, customers had to follow the pizzeria on Instagram and Facebook, like the post and tag a friend in the comments section. They could also earn a bonus item by reposting the announcement as an Instagram story while mentioning Mario’s Pizza or by following Mario’s on TikTok and commenting on that post with their username.

More recently, March 2024 has been dedicated to a unique promotion: Instagram followers are asked to tag a friend “who stole a pizza your heart.” If the tagged person doesn’t comment back within 15 minutes, they owe their friend a Mario’s pizza.

Mario’s has also started hyping up its 35th anniversary, which takes place on April 4 with a pizza-heavy bash to be attended by Orange County Mayor Jerry Demmings. More than a month in advance, the brand started promoting carryout and menu price specials.

Even minus the flash sales, Mario’s Pizza stands apart from the slew of chain pizzerias as well as the many independents in Orlando. This single-unit restaurant, which opened in 1989 and has operated in the same location ever since, is the home of a pair of truly singular pizza styles that are both tasty and aesthetically tantalizing: the Girlfriend Pizza and the Crown Jewel.

This photo shows a beautiful pizza encircled with golden-brown garlic knots as part of the crust.

The Crown Jewel (Mario’s Pizza)

Let’s start with the Girlfriend. It’s actually a half pizza and half calzone, split in the middle by gorgeous, golden-brown garlic knots. Guests who like to play the field can have their pick of Girlfriends, too—we’re talking 15 options. These include the White Chicken Bacon Girlfriend Pizza (a seasoned ricotta base, chicken, bacon, tomatoes, onions, feta and mozzarella); the Po’Folks Girlfriend Pizza (a creamy mashed-potatoes base, steak, onions, green peppers, mushrooms, bacon, cheddar and mozzarella); and even a Mac n Cheese (ziti noodles with housemade Alfredo sauce, chicken, bacon, cheddar and mozz).

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The Crown Jewel Pizzas, meanwhile, are indeed fit for royalty. These are whole pizzas encircled with garlic knots around the crust, making for another dazzling presentation. The Crown Jewel selection includes the 4-Chz (seasoned ricotta base, provolone, cheddar, feta and mozz) and the Buffalo Chicken (housemade blue cheese base, Buffalo chicken, sauteed onions, green peppers, cheddar and mozz), as well as nine others.

The Girlfriend Pizzas and the Crown Jewels are priced starting at $28.50 and are available as vegan options. They were introduced in 2019, according to Magadan, and have now, quite understandably, become memorable signature items on Mario’s menu.

Riffing off the Girlfriend and Crown Jewel Pizzas, Mario’s also unveiled the Border Pizza, priced at $29.50, in late 2023. A unique take on Mario’s 18” specialty pies, it’s topped with all the same ingredients featured on the other specialty pizzas, but it’s split in the middle with—you guessed it—those same gorgeous garlic knots.

And for any guest who’s not craving pizza at the moment (hard to believe, but we hear that happens), Mario’s has an extensive menu that also includes jumbo wings, hot subs and deli subs, pastas, calzones, gyros, burgers and strombolis. The pizzeria also has an abundance of vegan and gluten-free options.