By Cole Caviston, Staff Writer

FILE PHOTO  Durham House of Pizza has been a wildcat staple since the 1970s and attracts hungry students everyday.

FILE PHOTO
Durham House of Pizza has been a wildcat staple since the 1970s and attracts hungry students everyday.

Every time the door of the Durham House of Pizza opened on Friday night, a cold breeze swept in—along with customers eager for a bite to eat or looking to take a pizza to go.

As the flat-screen TV in the corner shows the latest basketball plays on ESPN, the customers of DHOP chow down on greasy pizza slices or take a stool seat by the windows and read through a copy of Coffee News.

Lauren Turkington of Merrimack comes to Durham almost every weekend to visit her sister, UNH junior Jayne Turkington. For Lauren, DHOP is a reliable place to eat.

“This is my first go-to place for food whenever I’m in Durham,” Lauren Turkington said.

DHOP is one of the most popular pizza parlors in Durham, attracting customers from the student body, the community and beyond.

John Petrovitsis, the manager of DHOP, said that the end of the week is when DHOP draws the greatest number of customers and is filled to capacity.

“Fridays are typically the busier days of the week,” Petrovitsis said. “Students are out of classes and a lot of the community comes out.”

During DHOP’s “dinner rush” from 5-8 p.m., not a minute passes when a customer or a group doesn’t come in asking for a meal to go or a table to sit at.

The number of customers on Fridays is dependent on the type of day it is, with larger increases usually occurring when sporting events are held on campus.

“If there’s a hockey game then [it will] be more busy because they’ll be more people in town,” Petrovitsis said.

DHOP is a family business that was started by Steven Petrovitsis, John’s father, in 1976. Originally situated where the Rite Aid is today, it later moved to the location now occupied by the Main Street Makery before finally setting up in its current building at 40 Main St., which it shares with Mexican restaurant, Tacomano.

The younger Petrovitsis, John, has worked at DHOP in all capacities since graduating from school. For the past three years, he has been the manager as his father retires from the business.

“I’ve been here my whole life. I used to be in the cradle out back or on the counter when I was a baby, but as long as I can remember I’ve been working here,” Petrovitsis said.

There are five employees out of the regular staff of 18 that worked Friday night, including a delivery driver. They took on a variety of duties throughout the night, including taking orders at the counter, cleaning up tables or arranging pizza boxes.

“I always tell new employees when I hire them, ‘If you don’t know what to do, then you’re doing something wrong. Because there’s always something to do,’” Petrovitsis said. “There’s not a lot of downtime, but that’s always a good sign because you want to stay busy.”

Drew Verrier, a freshman, has only been to DHOP a handful of times but he enjoys each of his visits.

“It’s great they have awesome pizza,” Verrier said. “I’ve only gotten cheese, but the cheese pizza I’ve had is very good.”

Positive feedback like this is common from customers, but even the smallest of compliments are gratifying for Petrovitsis.

“It’s satisfying when a customer calls up after they receive a pizza or delivery just to tell us that their pizza is delicious,” Petrovitsis said. “It makes you glad about what you do.”