This Grandma Was Initially Very Confused By A Random Pizza Delivery

By: Kish
September 10, 2019

Pizza isn’t just delicious, cheesy, and everyone’s favorite comfort food— for one family it helped bridge a gap in communication with their grandma in Palm Coast, Florida.

Florida, just like pizza is a slice of paradise. Known as The Sunshine State, Florida is home to Disneyland,  the Florida Man meme, Kennedy Space Center, and all-year-round sunny weather which brings tourists to the state in droves. But one thing that may make people apprehensive about visiting is Florida’s vulnerability to cyclones and tornados. Historically, more hurricanes have hit Florida than any other state in the US.

In just the last week Hurricane Dorian devastated the Bahamas and blew on over to Florida. And already Tropical Storm Humberto has become an imminent threat to the states. Florida can’t seem to catch a break!

In 2016, when Hurricane Matthew hit Florida, it was the strongest tropical cyclone to affect the coast of Florida since 1898. Matthew went on to leave a path of destruction from the Caribbean all the way to the US, and one family was especially worried about their grandmother who resided in Palm Coast at the time.

But when her grandson had a lightbulb moment, he enlisted the help of a pizza delivery driver and helped surprise his grandma.

Long Distant Loved Ones

Eric Olsen/Facebook

Meet Eric Olsen, the grandson of Claire Olsen in Palm Coast who lives in Palm Coast, Florida.

Eric Olsen lives almost 1,500 miles north of his grandmother, in Omaha, Nebraska with his son and Claire’s great-grandson.  Having grown up in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, the hospitality worker now serves at FARO Beachside Eatery, but at the time he was working at Mark’s Bistro in the city while also tending a bar, called the Brickway Brewery and Distillery.

Hurricane Season

With Hurricane Season approaching, Eric knew his grandma was preparing to weather a few storms.

So when news of the imminent threat of Hurricane Matthew approaching the Floridian coast, Eric grew increasingly concerned for her well-being and safety. While his grandma, Claire had already lived through many storms over the years while living in Palm Coast, she knew that Matthew was going to be particularly dangerous.

She Expressed Her Worries To Her Grandson

The catastrophic hurricane was dominating the headlines.

Hurricane Matthew lasted from October 6-7, and Eric spoke to ABC News on Wednesday, October 12, saying, “I talked to her on Friday morning, and she had just lost power, and she said, ‘This is a nightmare.’” He hadn’t heard from his grandma since. The death toll from Hurricane Matthew in the state of Florida alone was 12 people and the radio silence worried Eric.

But Then They Heard Nothing

No one in the family had heard from Claire in days.

Claire lived alone, and since no one had heard from her the entire family grew wary of her safety. Watching the devastation Matthew was leaving in its wake only heightened their concerns. The category five hurricane had wreaked destruction across Florida at this point and they feared the worst for their granny.

Eric Took Action

And he contacted the local authorities.

Eric told ABC News that he had tried to get in touch with Claire through official channels. “I was calling the police department, I was calling the sheriff’s department, and no-one was answering, so I was really worried,” he said. But even they weren’t able to give Eric an answer to his grandmother’s safety. So when the authorities failed him, he was forced to find a new solution.

When Authorities Came Up Empty He Needed A Plan B

And Eric came up with an innovative idea.

Anxious as ever and running out of ways to contact his grandmother, Eric was struck with a million-dollar idea. And he decided to order a pizza to his grandma from her local Papa John’s. It wasn’t an ordinary pizza. Eric put in a very custom order and included was a note with specific instructions for the delivery driver once he arrived at Claire’s home.

Claire Wasn’t Expecting Pizza

And she almost didn’t open the door for the delivery man.

Lance Tyler was the Papa John’s driver tasked with delivering the long-distance pizza to Claire’s address. But he did have one small hurdle— Eric’s grandmother wasn’t expecting a delivery, so she was a little apprehensive about opening the door. It had been a dramatic couple of days so the last thing she wanted to deal with was a pizza scam. But when she answered the door, Lance gave her the biggest surprise of her life.

Lance Loved Doing This Job

It was unlike any other order that had come through to Papa Johns before.

Lance was later interviewed by WFTV, a local Florida television channel. He revealed that while Papa John’s generally receives an influx of orders in the aftermath of a natural disaster like a storm or a hurricane, they had never gotten one quite like this. This was an extra special job unlike anything else he’d been entrusted in at his position at the pizza chain.

The Gift Of Conversation

As Lance approached the home, he gave the number on the order a call as per the instructions.

And Eric answered. Lance told WFTV, “The way that he answered the phone – ‘Is she there? Is she okay?’ – it sounded like he was worried.” Lance proceeded to knock on the door and Claire opened, insisting that she had not ordered anything. But when Lance revealed Eric’s plan and that the pizza was courtesy of her grandson in Omaha everything began to make sense to her.

Sheer Relief

The grandson and grandmother were able to reconnect.

Standing at the front door with a pizza in one hand and a phone in the other, he handed the cell to Claire who for the first time since she had lost power was able to speak to her grandson, and let her family know that she had survived yet another hurricane. She recalled, “[Eric said] ‘Grandma, I haven’t talked to you in two days. I got worried about you. You must be hungry by now.’”

The Power Of Pepperoni Pizza

The taste of relief, cheese, and pepperoni was a winning combination.

Nothing tastes better than knowing your family is safe. But that didn’t stop Claire from tucking into the pepperoni pizza which she admits was “fantastic.” Lance, of course, was ecstatic to play a part in reconciling these family members. “Her expression was just priceless,” he told WFTV about her excitement once she realized it was an elaborate plot for her grandson to contact her. “It was like, ‘Wow!’”

Before Long Claire’s Power Was Back

Shortly after speaking to Eric, Claire’s telephone service was back up and running.

And the first thing she did after chowing down on that pizza was contact her friends and family across the US to let them know she was okay. As for Eric, he can’t believe a pizza parlor was able to do the job the police could not. He joked to ABC News, “Police and fire couldn’t do it, but Papa John’s got there in 30 minutes and put the cellphone to her ear.” Eric also added, “People are asking why I didn’t call the police and ask them to do a wellness check, but I did,” he insisted to the ABC cameras. “Trust me, Papa John’s was a last resort.”

And He Got To Thank Lance In Person

This local hero got the thanks he deserved.

A few months following the devastation Matthew left behind, Eric was able to thank Lance in person. After they were both invited by Papa John’s as guests at the Super Bowl LI in Houston, Texas, in February 2017, Lance and Eric came face-to-face for the first time. We’re sure it was a beautiful moment, and a worthwhile celebration.

Which Led Him To Share This Story Online

And lucky for us, we get to revel in Eric’s joy with him.

Eric subsequently took to Facebook to share his excitement, not only for being part of the Super Bowl, but also to be part of a restaurant that treated him and his grandma like family. “Big shout out to Papa John’s Pizza for making this week absolutely amazing!” he posted on Facebook. “I am thankful to have been blessed with such an amazing experience. I’m happy to be an official part of the Papa John’s Pizza Family.”

Now That’s Some Priceless Advertising

And our hearts are sufficiently warmed.

Many businesses will tell you that they’re one big family, but few go out of their way to treat their customers that way. In a moment of vulnerability, Papa John’s stepped up and went the extra mile and Eric and his family are likely, forever grateful. One person shared these sentiments on Eric’s Facebook post” People before profits: priceless. You can’t buy advertising that good, no matter how good the pizza tastes.”