"The whole thing is so out of control, with Alicia’s Pizza not even offering an apology after their delivery driver ran over our dog," remarks Soulard resident Mal Schwartz, describing the Friday evening - August 21 - accident on the corner of S. 13th Street and Sidney in the Soulard neighborhood.
He and life partner Ed Van Kast, tenants living in a first floor unit in the 1300 block of Sidney, had been regular customers of Alicia’s Pizza, located nearby on Gravois, ordering deliveries every couple of weeks. The peculiar events on Friday ended their relationship with the company.
"Ed ordered a pizza from the company on Friday evening, around 8 to 8:30 p.m. When the delivery driver arrived at our door, our two dogs, Shorty and Groucho, who were inside the house, started barking," Mal relates. Mal describes Shorty as a rescue dog, adopted by the couple through the Humane Society of Franklin County, following flooding in the area over a year ago. "Shorty was a shih tzu, about 10 inches high, weighing in at 21 pounds, according to the vet, and Shorty and Groucho bark when somebody comes to the door. That is natural," he explains. Groucho is a medium sized dog, also probably not weighing over 30 pounds. "These are house pets, not ferocious attack dogs," Mal emphasizes.
Ed kept the dogs inside and went out on the small porch to accept the pizza and to pay the delivery person. "The dogs were inside, and there was never any physical contact between the dogs and the delivery person," Mal observes.
But the whole thing just went downhill, he says. The delivery person was upset and angry, even though Mal gave him a tip. "Ed just wanted to end the whole thing, after accepting the pizza and paying the man, and he turned to go into the house. When he opened the storm door with one hand, juggling the pizza with the other, Shorty bolted. Ed had not noticed that the delivery man had left the gate wide open on the way to his vehicle, which was parked on S. 13th," Mal relates.
"The delivery person was shouting at Ed, and one of his comments was to never call Elicia’s again, among other things," Mal comments. "Anyway, he started up his car and ran through the stop sign, turning west on Sidney. He ran over Shorty, who was excited by the confrontation and was out on the street by this time. Death was instantaneous. The driver slowed, but he did not stop," Mal testifies.
Mal relates that neighbors heard the delivery man shouting. In fact, the neighbor three doors up Sidney had come to her front yard because the delivery driver had attracted her attention by speeding down the alley paralleling Sidney to turn onto S. 13th on his way to the delivery. "Her daughter was having a slumber party and she was out in the back yard and noted that the driver was driving erratically through the alley. From her front yard, she witnessed the whole thing," Mal comments. "He was yelling as he was driving away," he notes.
"Ed was stunned by this turn of events," according to Mal. "He called the police. They did not want to take a report. They said it was just an accident. In fact, they wanted to arrest Ed, since he threw the pizza into the middle of the street. They wanted to arrest him for littering," Mal recounts.
"Animal control was also on the scene. They wanted to remove the body, but Ed told them that he would take care of that," Mal says.
He also called the manager of Elicia’s Pizza. "The manager said that it was not their fault and that we didn’t have our dog under control. He said they had no responsibility, and that it was our problem, not theirs," Mal continues. "There was no apology, no sense of remorse. The manager was rude as hell. As far as I am concerned, Elicia’s Pizza has the worst sense of customer relations of anybody I have ever seen," he concludes.
News of the strange incident has been spread on a Soulard neighborhood e-mail blaster. The response has been overwhelmingly against Elicia’s Pizza. Somebody forwarded the blaster information to Channel 5. Interviews were conducted by Channel 5 KSDK personnel, but the story did not run because Elicia’s said they would take legal action, according to Mal.
A friend of Madame Chouteau called Elicia’s Pizza on Thursday afternoon, August 27 in order to get a comment. The statement received was: "The situation was an accident. The owners of this company are talking to the owners of the dog to try to work this situation out."
Ed and Mal buried Shorty’s remains on a family farm in Waterloo, Il.