We’ve all been there. You’re stumbling home from a random party at 2 a.m. and you’re starving. All of the dining halls on campus are long closed, and operating a car, or any other type of heavy machinery, is definitely out of the question. Suddenly, a familiar voice cuts through the night: “Pizza! Five dolla!” Relief and gratitude wash over you as you fumble for a $5 bill. And just like that, your night is saved. And you can thank Hassan Emara, the College’s favorite pizza deliveryman, for doing the saving.
While Hassan is perhaps one of the most recognizable figures on campus, most students know little about him except the obvious: he sells wonderfully cheap pizza, can spot a potential customer from a mile away and works as hard as most college students party.
Yet questions remain – where is he from? Just whose idea was it to sell leftover pizzas for $5? And, most importantly, how does Hassan always know just when to show up at an off-campus party?
Luckily, Hassan was eager to talk (over a cheesy bread, of course) about his life, his career and the many friends he has made since he began visiting the College.
A native of Egypt, Hassan, who will turn 40 on Dec. 30, moved to the United States 15 years ago to be with his family. Now married and a father of four, he has worked to support his family as a deliveryman for 11 years.
Just six weeks ago, Hassan left his long-term post at Domino’s Pizza in order to work for family and friends at Dominator’s, a new pizzeria also located in Ewing.
“I’ve never been fired from any job,” he said. “But like everybody, I want more. Working at Dominator’s, I get more benefits and more money. But I love Domino’s. I feel like it’s my second house. It’s hard to find a place you like that much. I still visit all the time.”
It was during his time at Domino’s that Hassan came up with the idea that
has made him a campus celebrity: his $5 pizzas.
“It was my idea,” he said. “I asked the manager and he said ‘OK.’ It helped the store, and I also made a percentage from it.”
On these late-night trips to the College and surrounding area, Hassan has made more than extra money. He has also made friends.
“My favorite part about my job is going to the College,” he said. “I love it there. I have a good time, and I’m making good friends.”
Hassan knows that he is loved by students, and is even aware of the honorary degree bestowed upon him by The Signal. Still, he says, he sometimes feels bashful about all the attention he receives.
“Sometimes I feel shy,” he said. “Some people I know, and some I can’t always remember. But everybody knows me, and that means I love everyone.”
Of course, it isn’t all about making friends – the more students who recognize Hassan, the more pizzas he’ll sell.
That’s why he starts coming early, establishing himself as a recognizable face on campus as early as Welcome Week.
“I come behind Travers and Wolfe during the week that freshmen move in just so they start to know who I am,” he said. “Sometimes they’ve already heard about me and they’ll come right up and ask, ‘Are you Hassan?’ My brother Sam helps me too, and comes behind Wolfe sometimes.”
Once the school year really gets rolling, Hassan knows that the prime times to sell his $5 pizzas are between midnight and 2 a.m.
During these hours, it’s not at all surprising to open the door of an off-campus house and see Hassan standing on the porch with a smile on his face and a stack of warm pies in his hand.
“A lot of times when people are having parties, they will call my cell phone and tell me to come over,” he said. “Twenty-one house is one of my favorites. I always go over there. I also go to frat houses, the swim house and a few others.”
If it turns out that no one is interested in a pizza (which is a rare occurrence), Hassan is still happy to spend a few minutes chatting with his College friends.
“If nobody buys any pizza, I’ll just say hello to everybody and sail from here to there,” he said.
Sometimes, Hassan’s duties extend beyond those of merely delivering pizzas.
“A lot of people invite me to play beer pong or drink, but of course I say no,” he said. “And sometimes people will ask me for a ride home. Sometimes I’ll say yes if I really know the person and I know that I am helping them get home safely. But most of the time, my car is too full with pizza.”
Last year, Hassan was even invited to judge a dance competition held by students in Brower Student Center.
“It was a lot of fun, and I was really glad they invited me,” he said.
Although his job entails many late nights, Hassan still makes sure he has plenty of time to be with his wife and four children.
“My wife doesn’t work,” he said. “She has a hard enough job taking care of our family, so I want to take care of her.”
To that end, he makes sure to stay home with her during the day, and takes off three days a week. He also takes off when the local college students go home for breaks.
“I take off with you guys in the summer and at Christmas,” he said. “I take my family on vacations to the Poconos and other places.”
In addition, Hassan drives an ice cream truck in the summer for fun.
“It’s a nice change of pace,” he said. “I deal with college kids, and then I get to deal with little kids too.”
Recently, Hassan has started making trips to Rider University as well.
“I only started going there a few weeks ago, and already people are starting to recognize me,” he said.
But if he had to choose, his loyalty would still remain at the College.
“I have lived in Ewing since I moved to the United States, and I love it here,” he said. “I have good times and good friends. I love my job and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”