As We See It

Pizza Patron gives free pies for ordering in Spanish—and gets criticism in return

Tovin Lapan

If Rosetta Stone hasn’t taught you que from quien, maybe a passion for pepperoni will do the trick.

Texas-based chain Pizza Patrón, which has locations in Las Vegas and has traditionally marketed to Hispanics, is offering a free, large pepperoni pizza to anyone who orders in Spanish between 5 and 8 p.m. on June 5. And, while pizza may hardly seem a topic that courts controversy, as USA Today reported last week, the campaign has drawn critics from all sides.

“Maybe they thought it was a cute thing to do, but I think it’s discrimination,” Marcela Gomez, president of Hispanic Marketing Group in Nashville, told the paper.

“It seems to punish people who can’t speak Spanish, and I resent that,” said Peter Thomas, chairman of the Conservative Caucus.

Pizza Patrón regularly targets Hispanics with promotions, and in 2007 the chain started accepting pesos, a move that also drew criticism, although it continues to accept the Mexican currency today. Eduardo Gonzalez, an owner of Pizza Patrón stores in Las Vegas, said the company was simply trying to thank its customers and have some fun. He said everyone was welcome to come in for the deal, and “una pizza, por favor” is all that’s needed to cash in on the free pie. In fact, Pizza Patrón is only giving away large pepperoni pizzas, so ordering should be easy, no matter how well you speak Spanish.

“We understand that many people are having a rough time with the economy in Las Vegas,” Gonzalez said. “All you have to do is speak a little Spanish and you get a free pizza. When people go to a Mexican restaurant and they ask for a ‘carne asada burrito,’ that’s Spanish. When you go to Starbucks and ask for a ‘venti,’ you are ordering in another language.”

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