As of Friday, August 3, 2018
SUNNYSIDE Once an accountant, Neftali Perez is now dedicated to helping people enjoy hot pizza — fresh out of their own ovens.
Perez, who was raised and educated in Mexico, is the manager of Papa Murphy’s Take N’ Bake Pizza in a strip mall near Walmart at 2695 E. Lincoln Ave. But he started out on a different career path, not generally considered as fun as the work he does now.
“I was a bookkeeper — an accountant,” he said. “I went to college in Mexico.”
Despite his skills, after immigrating to the United States to be with his wife’s family, he spent time as a field worker in the orchards near Yakima. He decided he could do better, but the language barrier was holding him back.
“I went to YVCC to learn English,” he said.
He found his calling at Papa Murphy’s in Yakima, making pizzas and helping with customers. His cheerful nature and people skills earned him a promotion to manager, and he has stayed with the same company 23 years. He is the manager in Sunnyside although he still lives in Yakima.
Perez strives to make his store a place where people want to come for food. He said happy employees make for happy customers, and that depends on treating the employees right.
“I like this to be a friendly place,” he said. “I like having open, happy workers. Happy workers give better customer service.”
The goal is also to give his customers the best pizza possible at a low price. He said one of the advantages of selling pizzas that are uncooked is the lower cost for the restaurant. No ovens reduces the overhead for the store, and the savings are passed on to customers.
“People also love their pizzas hot, and nothing is hotter than eating it fresh out of the oven at home,” Perez said.
Perez also said the restaurant currently has no plans to move. Plans to refurbish a building on Sixth Street have been put on hold.
“We’re staying here,” he said.