10:46 p.m.

Hey, I've got a top-secret business plan. A can't-lose proposition. Here's my big idea: set up a pizzeria on the busiest late-night street in town and sell slices to last-call foot traffic as the clamorous local bars dump their hungry crowds onto the boulevard.

What's that? A no-brainer, you say? Totally obvious? What's the big deal, you ask?

I'll tell you what the big deal is: This basic concept doesn't exist in Seattle. The most annoying thing I've ever seen in town was a sign taped on the piping hot stainless-steel Bakers Pride oven at the otherwise inviting Hot Mama's Pizza on Pine Street. It read: "Kitchen Closes at 10:45."

The sign is no longer hanging, but the offending 11:00 p.m. final closing time is still in effect.

Like anyone who's ever been on Seattle's Saturday-night strip--Pine Street--hungry for a single slice of pizza at the shocking hour of 10:46 p.m. (or even midnight), I'm appalled to report that there's no getting your fix.

For me, the Hot Mama's sign pretty much summed up everything that's wrong with this town. A city without rapid mass transit, without buildings over 40 feet tall in its densest neighborhood ["Raise the Roof," Amy Jenniges, April 10], without affordable rents, without district reps in city hall, and without parks and ball courts open past the NIMBY-induced hours of 11:00 p.m.-- is also certainly a burg where a centrally located pizza shop can get away with quaintly closing at 11:00 p.m.

Even though Hot Mama's is on the busiest urban drag north of San Francisco and west of Chicago, owner Dave Nelson doesn't feel compelled to serve pizza past 11:00. He tried late hours during the shop's early years and contends that biz was slow between 11:30 p.m. and 2:00 a.m. Moreover, Nelson says he pulls a long day, showing up at 9:30 a.m., and he isn't sure he can find a late-night staff.

But he hasn't ruled out late hours. He recognizes that the shop is in a "partying neighborhood," and he feels "guilty" about closing at 11:00 p.m.

Sorry to be so serious about this, but I was just in Washington, D.C., and damn if I didn't hop off the subway after midnight and grab a slice. Mass public transit. Late-night pizzerias. Seems related.

I can't do much about mass transit, but I can do something about this late-night food issue. (I've counted only about 10 cheap late-night options.) So, I've convinced a friend to cash out of his high-tech job and help me open a Pine Street pizza joint. Our pizza joint will be across the street from Hot Mama's. I'm going to call it 10:46 Pizza, and our kitchen will be open from 10:46 p.m. to 2:46 a.m.

In fact, forget renting across the street--I may just slip my crew into Hot Mama's when they close at 11:00 p.m. And then there's Piecora's Pizza at 14th and Madison, directly across the street from Chop Suey. Piecora's closes up at midnight. Ridiculous. I may have my terrorist pizza brigade set up after hours there too.

josh@thestranger.com

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