Big Mama’s and Papa’s Pizza has never had a day like this. Oscar host Ellen DeGeneres put the bright red-and-yellow pizza boxes in front of millions of viewers Sunday night, and the 20-location chain found instant fame.
[Updated, 3:29 p.m. PST March 3: DeGeneres interviewed deliveryman Edgar Martirosyan on her talk show Monday. (See the video at the bottom of this post.) He recounted the experience: “You said, ‘Just follow me,’ and I’m going and I’m on a stage. I was in shock."
Martirosyan said the biggest thrill may have been meeting the woman of his dreams, Julia Roberts.
DeGeneres then gave him $600 in tips she’d gathered from the celebrity audience and threw in enough to make it $1,000. And of course, there was pizza for her audience.]
It was the evening’s second unusual comedic moment, after the selfie seen round the world.
That star-studded selfie photo broke Twitter for a short time; meanwhile, the pizza moment has created an almost unbearable mad rush to the L.A. pizza stores co-owned by brothers Ararat and Allen Agakhanyan.
“All of our locations are crazy busy right now,” Ararat Agakhanyan told the Los Angeles Times in an interview Monday. “We had no idea that our pizzas were going to be on TV. We’re ordering supplies like mad, stocking up on cheese, pepperoni, sausage and boxes and shipping them out to the different stores.”
Ellen’s talk show, filmed in Burbank, often orders from the Big Mama’s location there. Agakhanyan says Oscar producers ordered from the Hollywood location Sunday. The three pizzas, cheese, pepperoni and everything, cost $75, plus a $10 delivery fee. He said show producers and DeGeneres decided at the last minute to have franchise owner and deliveryman Martirosyan carry the boxes himself.
Martirosyan started with the pizza chain as a deliveryman and six years ago purchased the Sunset Boulevard location.
“This is what happens when you work hard,” Agakhanyan said about Martirosyan. “You work hard, you don’t take anything for granted and you succeed.” And then you go on the Oscars, apparently.