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August 3, 2015

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Free pizza? Por favor!

Pizza chain offers free pies with order in Spanish

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AP

Ordering pizza en Español

    If you are still bashful about using your Español in public, below is some helpful vocabulary.

  • Me gustaría = I would like

  • Una pizza = A pizza

  • Pepperoni = Pepperoni

  • Gracias = Thank you

  • Por favor = Please

  • Cómo estás? = How are you?

  • Bien = Well

  • Tengo hambre = I'm hungry

  • Delicioso = Delicious

If Rosetta Stone is not helping you distinguish "que" from "quien," maybe a passion for pepperoni will do the trick.

The Texas-based chain Pizza Patron, which has traditionally marketed to Hispanics, is offering a free, large pepperoni pizza to anyone who orders in Spanish between 5 and 8 p.m. on June 5.

As USA Today reported earlier this week, the campaign has drawn critics from all sides.

"Maybe they thought it was a cute thing to do, but I think it's discrimination," Marcela Gomez, president of Hispanic Marketing Group, a Latino marketing firm in Nashville, told USA Today. "As an advertising agency, I would never recommend this to my client."

Meanwhile advocates for English as the official language of the United States also took issue with the company's approach.

"It seems to punish people who can't speak Spanish, and I resent that," Peter Thomas, chairman of the Conservative Caucus, told USA Today. "In public areas, people should be speaking English, and that includes pizza parlors."

Pizza Patron regularly targets Hispanics with its promotions, and in 2007 the chain started accepting pesos, a move that also drew criticism.

Eduardo Gonzalez, an owner of Pizza Patron stores in Las Vegas, said the company was simply trying to thank its customers for supporting the chain and to have some fun. He said everyone was welcome to come in for the deal, and only a basic "una pizza, por favor" is needed. In fact, Pizza Patron is only giving away one type of pizza, a large pepperoni, so the ordering should be uncomplicated.

"Basically we just want to thank everybody," Gonzalez said. "We understand that many people are having a rough time with the economy in Las Vegas. All you have to do is speak a little Spanish and you get a free pizza. When people go to a Mexican restaurant and they ask for a 'carne asada burrito,' that's Spanish. When you got to Starbucks and ask for a 'venti,' you are ordering in another language."

Despite the timing, Gonzalez said the promotion had nothing to do with the presidential election or the issue of immigration reform.

"We've gotten a lot of mixed reactions, and some say it's a great idea," Gonzalez said. "We're not doing it to create any controversy in regards to immigration. ... We believe very strongly in being part of the community. We welcome everybody. In the U.S., English is the number one language, and we don't want to overstep our boundaries."

USA Today also ran a poll with its story asking for readers' opinions on the issue. As of Thursday there were more than 4,000 votes and a combined 65 percent said they liked the marketing or did not care about the issue while the remainder said they did not approve of the promotion.

Gonzalez said he expected long lines at the stores June 5, and Pizza Patron stores will be handing out coupons for both discounted specialty pizzas and for free large pizzas, so people who do no have the time to wait can get their free pie at a later date. (No need to speak Spanish to get the coupon.)

Pizza Patron is headquartered in Dallas and boasts 102 locations in seven states.

There are five Pizza Patrons in Las Vegas: 2885 E. Charleston Blvd. Suite 102, 3510 Bonanza Road, 1979 N. Nellis Blvd, 2305 E. Sahara Ave, 721 N. Rancho Drive.

More information on the pizza promotion and the local stores can be found at pizzapatron.com.

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