Champ Pizza
Pizza News

This Pizzeria is Putting the ‘Ghost’ in ‘Ghost Kitchen’

A location of Champ Pizza, a DELCO brand in Washington state, has an employee, Dave, who may or may not exist.

It was more than a year ago that Kalisity Rink, manager of a Champ Pizza location in Camas, Washington, met her coworker, Dave. She was taking the trash out and closed the door behind her. When she turned around, she said, the door was wide open and slowly closing.

“If I’m being honest, I’ve believed in ghosts for a long time,” Rink said. “So when I saw the door do that, I was like, ‘Oh, my goodness, this must be a ghost.’”

Rink’s fellow employees said she was crazy. They took playful jabs at her—they were sure there was no way a ghost was involved. She’d probably just forgotten she hadn’t actually closed the door, they told her.

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Then, one by one, the employees had apparent encounters with Dave. Dave’s behavior was consistent: He was a prankster. He’d open and close doors or start washing trays in the dish pit. Rink reels off other examples of times her coworkers have encountered Dave, who tends to be more active at night: an employee was alone in the shop and heard someone faintly calling out her name; two employees were standing in the kitchen and noticed the dough cover had suddenly been unzipped and was levitating over the dough; dishes once fell off a top shelf for no apparent reason.

It’s become a running joke. Whenever something suspicious happens, or something goes missing, Dave is to blame.

Dave only got his name recently. Sam, one of Rink’s colleagues at Champ Pizza, asked her if the ghost had a name, and Rink said she hadn’t really thought about it. Sam suggested “Dave,” and something just felt right about it.

Rink said she thinks Dave thrives off of the lighthearted energy that permeates throughout the store. She and her coworkers like to keep things fun as they work in the busy store—and Dave seems to endorse that spirit and play along. He even tries to lighten up the mood, Rink said, when coworkers are having a bad day. He’s the consummate coworker in that sense.

“We have noticed Dave really likes to mess with coworkers who take things a bit more seriously,” Rink said. “We have one coworker who…it’s not that she’s not fun, but she’s a bit more serious. And it feels like she’s constantly having encounters with Dave.”

This deliberately retouched photo shows a pizza kitchen with what appears to be a ghost at the dishwasher and giving a thumbs up.
Champ Pizza

Some people aren’t buying it. They still don’t think Dave exists. Notably, Champ Pizza owner Tyson Cook is a Dave skeptic. In fact, he’s offered a bounty to help locate Dave—not to try and get rid of him, but so that the pizzeria can be featured on a show like Ghost Hunters.

Cook has a good time joking with employees about Dave. In fact, he wants to believe Dave is real, and thinks, whether he is or not, it’s a great story. “My staff swear to the story,” Cook said. “I think it’s fun. They talk about him as though he’s a regular employee. They say, ‘Dave was here last night.’ It’s, like, a casual conversation to them.”

Haunted or not, the pizzeria Dave supposedly inhabits is quite the force of nature in its own right. Champ Pizza was founded in 2020 and has since grown to six locations. Cook said the brand is going to continue to grow in a sensible way, “as the market sees fit.”

“We grew pretty fast,” he said. “Now we’re trying to focus on the details and refine our processes within our system so that we can grow more.”

If the pizzeria does continue to expand, perhaps Dave would be due for a promotion—perhaps he could run a ghost kitchen. Cook and Rink said Dave certainly has the right attitude to make it work.

“It’s comforting and nice [to have Dave around],” Cook said. “I think ghosts deserve justice. They are always talked about in a negative manner. Maybe they’re just friendly and want to be accepted.”