Drizzle and dinner-time crowds at the Shaker Heights Papa John's

6:33 AM, May 9, 2008   |    comments
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  • 6 p.m. Police have barricaded the driveway in front of the Papa John's store now, because too many people, mostly young children, have been dodging in and out of the traffic. The steady light rain has caused some to leave but at least 800 people remain in line.
  • 5 p.m. The pizza's still piping hot but the weather has turned cold and rainy. That hasn't stopped the crowds here in Shaker Heights. The Gyro Shop two doors down from Papa John's has decided to sell 23-cent hot dogs. The lines, which at one point stretched as far as Winslow Road to the east, have not diminished. Families are now starting arrive, bundled in winter jackets for the long, very cool wait. Police here have been directing traffic for six hours. Then next question likely is, will Papa John's be picking up the cost of police wages for officers who have been pulled from regular duty on the streets of Shaker Heights to manage the crowd here? The owners of the CVS Pharmacy and Shaker Hardware are understandably upset in general, though, because no one has been able to get into their businesses all day because the doors are completely blocked by the six-deep line.
  • 3:30 p.m. Look out, school's out. The lines around the shopping center are growing, and traffic is moving like a gas-powered conga line. The store manager said the store is still fully stocked and "fresh employees" arrived just before 3 p.m. The store manager said she anticipates staying open until 11 p.m. So a three-hour wait means you should get here before 8 p.m.
  • 1:00 p.m. The line has grown to over 1,900 people and a Shaker Heights resident who had been in line since 9:45 a.m. just got his pepperoni pizza. Police said students having been coming over from Shaker Heights High School during their free periods. "I don't want to think of what's going to happen when school lets out," one officer said, as he shook his head.
  • 12:15 p.m. It's beyond even what Papa John's expected. It's just past high noon at the lines are still growing. As of noon, more than 1,785 people were in line, and more keep coming. The biggest problem right now is where to put all the cars. People are now parking three blocks away because the parking lot has been full since 10 a.m. Shaker Heights police have four officers on duty directing traffic and even that's hardly enough. The line stretches for a quarter of a mile and more people keep coming. Two vanloads of students from the Elite Academy are here on a field trip to get the 23-cent pizza. One elderly woman passed out in the line about 11:15 a.m. and the Shaker Heights paramedics were called. The people just keep on coming, and there's no end in sight.

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