For over eleven years now, Pizza Shuttle has been the favored third place for this kinda-but-not-very nomadic single person. My appreciation of the Shuttle is that of a fan, but not a fanboy. Indeed, I feel that one ought not go to Pizza Shuttle more than a couple times a week--except in deep winter, when the pizza ovens provide a pleasantly even, not-too-dry warmth in the dining room.
A proper appreciation of Pizza Shuttle in this forum is long overdue, and I'm not sure I'll touch all the bases tonight.
How did it start? Honestly, I'm not sure. My first Pizza Shuttle memory is from about 2005, with a random specific memory of an early MySpace exploration that probably took place that year or the next. The WiFi has always been blazing fast, providing the ability to download a full-length movie in fifteen or twenty minutes.
Internet puttering has always been accompanied by the beer-and-a-slice special, which used to be almost ridiculously cheap and is now merely reasonable. The pizza, even more than the establishment, is a mood thing. Tonight, for example, it was pretty good. I think $8.22 before tip is not bad for a slice of pizza, a 16 oz. Blue Moon and a bottle of water. I sprinkle some of the water on the invariably desiccated deluxe pizza and pour much of the rest into the beer to water it down.
I feel that the true unique selling proposition is the genuinely public (within reasonable limits) space offered in the dining room. I say "genuine" as opposed to that offered by competing low-end late-night dining options such as Oakland Gyros or even Mykonos. Apollo Cafe is also quite relaxed toward lingerers but not open quite as late most nights of the week. Staying longer than thirty minutes earns patrons the Vulcan Death Stare, if not an outright request to leave, at most places open at this hour at this price point. The lack of policing--which I find almost Utopian for a Milwaukee establishment--is amazing. The dining room is basically on the honor system as to whether you buy anything or not. (I wouldn't disclose this information if I thought very many people would see it.)
The charm of Pizza Shuttle is its unpredictability, and I'd be dishonest if I didn't admit that the sketch factor is occasionally off-putting, both in terms of the clientele and in terms of the facility's cleanliness. Some nights I feel like I'm being processed for jail while here, and other nights I'd like to power-wash the entire place with sani solution. (In all fairness, my personal Internet downloads could use that treatment sometimes too!)
On other nights, however, the music mix is random* and perfect, the food decent, the buzz onset slow and gentle, the facility sparkling clean, the crowd nice and well-managed. Tonight is just one such night. I should also mention that Pizza Shuttle has a good interaction and rapport going with me on Instagram, and I seem to recall interacting with them on Twitter as well. What impresses me most about that is that they don't have a real marketing-based need to do that at all, with my being well outside the target demographic. I always hope to provide a win-win, but at the end of the day (which 11:52 p.m. most certainly is), I'm just some dude. Hence this well-deserved appreciation.
Long live the Shuttle! (That probably means not eating much of your own product. Just kidding...sort of ;-)
*Without fail, I hear one or two cool songs during each visit, and have even asked what station it is a couple times. Apparently it's a playlist.