Today, The Two Mikes spoke with Mr. Anthony Mongiello, who owns the Formaggio Cheese Company located in Hurlyville in Sullivan County upstate New York.
Mr. Mongiello’s company produces Italian specialty cheeses that are available everywhere. In 1982, when he was beginning to build a pizzeria business in New York City he experienced a baking mix-up and ended up making the world’s first stuffed-crust pizza.
Mr. Mongiello then built a device for producing that kind of pizza – he had learned such skills working in his father’s business, which made machines for the Italian cheese industry — and then, in 1987, secured a U.S. patent for his invention. Afterwards, he began to try and get one of the biz pizza chains interested in his device. He chose to approach “Pizza Hut”. He contacted that company and after a period was told the company was interested.
Mr. Mongiello was asked to send the device to the company’s R&D Division. He did so. Many months later he was told that Pizza Hut was not interested in the device, Then, in 1994, he read in the newspapers that Pizza Hut was launching a $45 million advertising campaign for its new “Stuff Crust Pizza” – which was, as Mr. Mongiello discovered, made with a device that was very much like his.
Mr. Mongiello took the company to court, and was “battered” by the company’s lawyers. The Pizza Hut lawyers also appealed for a summary judgment, which the judge granted and so made sure there would be no jury trial. In making his summary judgment, the judge ruled in favor of Pizza Hut, and Mr. Mongiello lacked the money to pursue an appeal.
When asked how much money he had lost because of this outcome, Mr. Mongiello estimated $23 million at the low end and a billion dollars or more at the high end. Currently he is running his own business and working on a documentary called “Stolen Dough” which will expose how he got slicked by Pizza Hut and the judge.
We must say, that Mr. Mongiello was one of the best guests we have had in nearly 400 programs. He was calm, well spoken, and non-vindictive. He simply presents his experience with precision, fact by fact, and without anger. He was a pleasure to talk to.