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Bear-Hugging-Obama Pizza Guy Scott Van Duzer: A Follow-Up Q&A

It's been a crazy week for Big Apple Pizza owner Scott Van Duzer. He's gained national fame for bear-hugging the President. He's experienced a huge backlash from trollers on Yelp. And he's even had a hug request from former Governor Charlie Christ.

With all this man-love going on, we decided to have have a chat with the most famous pizza-man in America this month.

Clean Plate Charlie: What kind of pizza is your specialty?
Van Duzen: Mine personally or the shop? I like to keep it simple--a large cheese and pepperoni. The store does a lot of specialty pies-- white pizzas, meatlovers, etc.

What is the secret to making a great pie?
Knowing what you're doing.

You're a registered Republican. What made you decide to support Obama?
Four years ago I dug his enthusiasm as a young adult generating the youth to care and ultimately make a difference. When he came into my shop I saw the same enthusiasm that I saw back then.

As a small business owner, how do you feel about the job he is doing?
He was dealt a mess. When Obama took office the Dow was at 8,000. I think we're going in the right direction. Is he responsible for everything going on in the world? No. I have a small business and I focus on making it grow. I'm very successful. I don't expect the government or anyone else to do anything for me. I keep my focus on my business and it is growing.

Do you follow politics much?
No. I have a lot of friends who are in politics: city and county commissioners, public defenders, mayors. In the wake of all this frenzy, many of them came out to show their support for my business. We went around the room the other day, discussing who was a Republican or Democrat; we had plenty of both. I never had any idea before that.

What have been the worst things that have happened in the wake of the President's visit?
I don't want to say a lot or trash-talk. There has been some ugliness, but I choose to see the good. We've had a lot of pranks -- people calling in fake orders -- but we've chosen to make good out of it. We've been donating those pizzas to different organizations that can use the help. You do what you can to make a difference.

How much can you bench-press?
Since the President's visit, a lot of people have been coming in looking for hugs. I picked up one guy who weighed 380 pounds.

Who weighed more: President Obama or former Governor Crist?
I'd say they're neck-and-neck.

This all started over your commitment to blood donation. What would you like to tell the world about the cause?
This all started over our non-profit. Look, less than four percent of the entire United States population donates 100 percent of the blood used. Every two seconds, someone needs blood. Those are pretty mind-boggling figures. It's important not to wait until someone you know needs blood.

What made you get into the pizza business?
It's the only job I ever had. I started working for Big Apple at 15 years old and worked my way up. I finally bought in around '91 or '92.

How has business been since the President's visit?
We're the busiest we've ever been.

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Sara Ventiera

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