Cici’s Pizza enjoying a new popularity in Beaumont

Cici’s Pizza enjoying a new  popularity in Beaumont

Buddy Wilcox runs a tight ship at Cici’s Pizza in Beaumont. The very busy owner/manager should know the ropes from his more than 10 years working for the company in the Dallas area. He has honed his skills to perfection in the five years he has owned the franchise in Beaumont.

Wilcox is a hands-on manager, busily handling the buffet line, helping answer customer questions, checking on hot pizzas coming out of the kitchen, and taking special orders for various combinations of toppings.

Several customers remarked during our interview for this article that the restaurant was very clean and that the personal service was simply excellent.

One happy mom said her kids loved eating at Cici’s, but that her husband had not been a big fan in the city in which they had formerly lived. However, even the dad changed his mind when eating at the location in Beaumont. “Our service was good, the food was hot and very well prepared, and everyone was able to get just what they wanted,” she said. “We’ll be back for more.”

While we were in the restaurant during a busy lunch hour, we met students and teachers from a Silsbee Independent School District class. Teacher Jill Powell from Read Turrentine Elementary School, along with other adults in the group, had 34 boys and girls who were thrilled to be eating an end-of-the-year celebratory lunch at Cici’s. “Wow!” “That looks good.” “May I try that one?” “Can we really have all we want to eat?” “Man, I love that macaroni and cheese pizza.” “Have you tasted the hot cinnamon buns?” — all comments we heard from the younger guests.

Powell said that the reasons the teachers chose Cici’s for their outing were that the food was good, everyone got a choice, and that it was economical for all family budgets. “The management team works well with us, too, and that is important when you are dealing with students. It is definitely a good experience for all of us,” said the teacher, keeping an ever-watchful eye on her group.

In talking with the students, we found that the new macaroni and cheese pizza is a crowd pleaser, and several of these hot pizzas had to be served up for these guests. Pepperoni is a favorite for ages young and old, and we noticed that there were several coming hot from the kitchen as soon as one tray would empty from the buffet. Many of the boys and girls started with nice helpings of fresh salad and ended with desserts, but the main thing was that hot pizza served with a smile. The adults seemed to favor a wonderful veggie pizza, but everyone eemed willing to taste test a new or different topping. One young man was seriously advising his friend to try the ham and pineapple before he left.

The choices can be a challenge, even for adults. There are just so many to tempt the diner. With more than 28 varieties of fresh pizza, delicious pastas, crisp salads and delectable desserts, CiCi’s literally has something for everyone. Made-from-scratch crust, homemade marinara and garden fresh ingredients combine to make for delicious meals.

One of the things Wilcox stressed is that if customers do not see exactly what they want on the buffet, they can simply tell the employee and they will make the pizza up just for them. In fact, Wilcox said, “If you don’t see it here, I’ll top it however you like it.” And we witnessed the manager/owner making several pizzas and hand delivering them to the various customers who were waiting.

Wilcox said that the Beaumont location now sells some 450-500 pizzas on a busy weekday, but that on the weekends, they reach 700 and upward.

One thing we noticed is that every age group seems to like pizza. Grandparents arrived with youngsters in tow while businesspeople gathered around the tables to eat pizza. Families were enjoying being together, while the school group laughed and ate readily. Several men who appeared to be road and bridge employees were going through the buffet line as we were leaving.

Wilcox stopped by our table to check on our needs and I noticed he had a big No. 1 sign in his hand from where he had just delivered a pizza to a table. “Are you saying this Cici’s is No. 1?” I asked. “No, actually we are No. 4 in the nation just now, but we are shooting for No. 1.”

You have to like an attitude and big success like that.

The first CiCi’s Pizza opened in Plano in 1985. Now based in Coppell, Texas, they are proud to be one of the fastest growing pizza chains in the country. The company currently has about 600 restaurants in 36 states and plans are to add another 500 restaurants in the next eight to 10 years.

Cici’s Pizza in Beaumont employs upward of 30 people and will cater 30 pizzas or more to one location. You can call (409) 892-6866 for additional information or to place an order. Hours of operation are 11 a.m. until 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 a.m. until 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.

Brenda Cannon Henley can be reached at (409) 781-8788 or at brendacannonhenley [at] yahoo [dot] com.