It turns out there's room enough in Ellsworth for the pizza rivals, who banded together to keep the pies rolling.
An employee at Dragonfire Pizza in Ellsworth cleans an oven at the Mill Mall business in this 2019 file photo. Credit: Nick Sambides Jr. / BDN

A pizza restaurant came to the rescue of another in Ellsworth over the weekend after a key piece of equipment failed.

Employees at Dragonfire Pizza at the Mill Mall found themselves without a working mixer for making dough on Sunday morning. Sunday is a big day for the pizzeria, especially when pro football playoff games are on TV, and not having pizza dough for making pies was a non-starter for their business.

They needed help and asked what some might consider a rival for assistance — Zeppa’s Pizza on Water Street.

When Dragonfire Pizza's dough mixer broke down, Zeppa's Pizza didn't give a second thought to helping its erstwhile rival.
In this April 12, 2022, file photo, the Palcic family, including dog Zeppa, stands outside 92 Water St. in downtown Ellsworth, where their pizza parlor is located. Pictured are Lisa Palcic, Hugh Palcic and their daughter Riley Palcic, who is holding Zeppa. Credit: Bill Trotter / BDN

Hugh Palcic, who owns and operates Zeppa’s with his wife Lisa, said the decision was a no-brainer and “wasn’t that big a deal.” Everyone in the pizza business needs dough, and he knows what kind of pickle Zeppa’s would be in if its mixer broke down.

But the decision also was a matter of self-preservation, he added. If Dragonfire had stayed closed for the day, it could have added stress to Zeppa’s workload.

“We would have been crushed [with orders],” Palcic said. “We need them to carry the load in this town.”

After calling Palcic, a couple of Dragonfire employees brought their flour and other ingredients to Zeppa’s and spent about half an hour there mixing dough, Palcic said. He had already had dough mixed up and portioned out for Zeppa’s, so he was able to open the Water Street pizzeria as usual around 11 a.m.

The Dragonfire workers returned to their shop around the same time and got to work balling up their dough there, he said.

Employees at Dragonfire, which is closed on Mondays, did not return a phone message but went online to praise Zeppa’s for coming to their aid.

“OVERWHELMINGLY AWESOME!!!” Dragonfire posted on its Facebook page. “Not just local businesses helping each other, but two pizza places working together to provide for all of the fabulous people of Ellsworth and their pizza desires.”

Palcic returned the gratitude, saying the Dragonfire owners were kind enough to come to Zeppa’s when it opened last summer and make the Palcics feel welcome in Ellsworth. He said he is sure Dragonfire would do the same for Zeppa’s if the Palcics’ mixer was on the fritz.

“This is stuff they teach you in kindergarten,” Palcic said. “Share your toys. It’s good karma all around.”

Avatar photo

Bill Trotter

A news reporter in coastal Maine for more than 20 years, Bill Trotter writes about how the Atlantic Ocean and the state's iconic coastline help to shape the lives of coastal Maine residents and visitors....