School pizza deal a win for Manchester official
MANCHESTER — He may be an alderman, but that isn't stopping Thomas Katsiantonis from getting a slice of the city's school lunch budget.
Ward 8 Alderman Katsiantonis placed the winning bid this year to supply students at city schools with pizza.
Katsiantonis, owner of Grand Slam Pizza, 331 S. Mammoth Road, placed a bid of $5.05 per pizza — 25 cents lower than the only other bid received, $5.30 per pizza from Papa Gino's. Last fiscal year, Papa Gino's was awarded the contract at $5.10 per pizza.
Katsiantonis said he had the pizza contract several years ago, but didn't put a bid in last year because he was in Greece.
The Board of School Committee voted unanimously to award him the contract on Sept. 9. School officials confirmed he was the lowest bid.
Katsiantonis said bids were submitted under seal. He said the school district inspected his restaurant to ensure he would be able to supply the estimated 175 pizzas a day with a crust made from 51 percent wheat flour and 49 percent white flour.
He said his two pizza ovens make about 20 pizzas in seven minutes.
Katsiantonis said years ago, before he was an alderman but while he was in the state legislature, he questioned why the school district didn't put its pizza contract out to bid; soon the policy was changed. He estimated the district saves about $70,000 a year because of the change.
"Think about it, all the money I saved the school district. It's over $500,000," he said.
Ward 5 school board member and Subcommittee on Finance Chairman Ted Rokas said the fact that Grand Slam Pizza is owned by a city alderman came up briefly, but wasn't dwelled upon by school board members.
"The fact is it was the lowest bid, by a substantial amount," said Rokas. "The bids were sealed. I think it was more concerning to us that there were only two bids received. I would have thought the contract would generate more interest in the city."
Katsiantonis said the contract begins Oct. 1, and runs through August 31, 2014.
Papa Gino's had the contract the last three fiscal years, according to school officials.