Another slice: Two ex-pols go into pizza business together

Mike Madsen and Nick Woerner send some dough into the sky. (Photo by Phyllis McCabe)

Mike Madsen and Nick Woerner send some dough into the sky. (Photo by Phyllis McCabe)

Voters haven’t treated them too kindly of late, so veteran local politicians Mike Madsen and Nick Woerner are hoping pizza serves them better.

Madsen, 48, served eight years on the Kingston Common Council and a term in the Ulster County Legislature before losing a bid for re-election in 2011. Woerner, 28, was elected to two terms as Town of Ulster supervisor before being defeated in 2009. He also lost a bid for Kingston alderman in 2011.

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The two have opened Primo Pizza at 342 Broadway in Kingston, across from Staples Street. Woerner, who does most of the talking (“I’m the funny guy, he’s the straight guy”), makes comparisons between serving pizza and serving the public. “There are a lot of similarities,” he said earnestly. “In politics, you’re selling yourself and your ideas. In business, you’re selling a product to the public.”

The enterprising duo, fellow Democrats and friends for a dozen years, were at loose ends after losing their respective elections in 2011, and so decided to go into “some kind of business” together. They looked at opportunities in the Uptown Kingston area, but finally decided on the food-service business in Midtown.

“I know I preached a lot as an alderman [from the Ninth Ward] about people investing in the City of Kingston,” Madsen said. “Here was a chance to put my money where my mouth is.”

They say they’ve invested about $20,000 in their new business, which opened its doors on Feb. 18. Neither draws a salary, nor plans to quit his day jobs just yet. Madsen, a contractor, does small construction and home-improvement jobs and manages his late father’s real-estate interests. Woerner, who worked in public relations after leaving town office, says he’s now a consultant to those seeking liquor licenses from the state.

The partners share shifts in a business that’s open some 90 hours a week from early morning to late at night. Woerner handles bookkeeping chores and Madsen works with personnel. Woerner feels his experience as chief executive officer of the Town of Ulster provides valuable background for the business. Though Madsen said he’s worked on and in the restaurant field since he was a teenager, he won’t be flipping pies at Primo Pizza.

They arrived at the parlor’s name, Primo Pizza, because, Woerner said, “Primo means number one in Italian and I’m related to the [Kingston] Primo family.”

The restaurant, which seats 32, was operated under the name of Old Napoli for many years and was the site of the original Stewart’s in Kingston. Madsen said minimal renovation was necessary.

While offering an extensive dinner, lunch and takeout menu, Primo’s best potential customers would seem to be the 2,000 students up the street at Kingston High School and workers from local businesses. The Broadway strip is sprinkled with eateries, so the new guys on the block had to come up with a catchy gimmick.

“How about a slice of pizza and a 12-ounce drink for $2 all day every day?” Woerner offered. “That’s a pretty good lunch for a kid.”

Woerner and Madsen say they’re more competitive by not charging sales tax or tips on their pizza deliveries. “I think that puts us in the mid-to-mid-lower price range,” Madsen said.

The parlor hopes to make a big splash this Sunday with a “St. Patrick’s pizza” (marking the annual parade down Broadway) that will feature belt-busting Russian dressing on top of sauerkraut and Swiss cheese and corned beef, all straddling a cheese bedding. Fried dough will be available for the kids.

They have different takes on their futures in politics.

“Ten years was enough for me. I’m done,” Madsen said.

Woerner, occasionally mentioned for a possible comeback in the Town of Ulster (he currently lives in Kingston), demurs. “I still have hopes of being involved in government someday,” he said. “When people ask me about running for office I usually tell them, Ask me tomorrow.”

The business can be reached at (845) 802-0000 or on Facebook at Primopizza/Kingston.

There are 21 comments

  1. anonymous

    If they are charging a delivery fee, they have to charge tax for that fee as per New York law. If they are not charging a delivery fee, then there would be nothing to charge a tax on so the point is moot, and it was a dumb thing to say. If they are charging a delivery fee, and they are not charging sales tax on it, they are breaking tax code.

    If they are not charging taxes “at all” on the items they are delivering, that is against New York tax code also. According to tax code, you have to show what the price is, along with what the tax is. Prepared food purchased in a restaurant is always taxable.

    Bragging that they are not paying sales tax and that it makes them more competitive is not a smart thing to do, and is certainly not in the city’s best interest. Not only does it invite the State to look into their business — not charging and not paying owed sales tax hurts the city as tax revenues are part of the city’s revenue. As former government workers, they should know better.

    Please confirm that these gentlemen were either misquoted and assure us that they are paying taxes as they should.

    http://www.tax.ny.gov/pubs_and_bulls/tg_bulletins/st/shipping_and_delivery_charges.htm

  2. Honest

    Glad to see nothing changes and people are quick to judge, but the menu clearly states that tax is included in all prices.

  3. Styles

    I think they don’t charge a delivery fee, and their sales tax is included in the posted price. What you see is what you pay. Let’s not make a big conspiracy out of it!!

  4. John

    Woerner is doing the books? They won’t last long if his stint as “CEO” of the town of Ulster is any indication of his skill level at bookkeeping.
    How in the heck can he be a consultant to people trying to attain liquor licenses? I don’t understand that at all. Are that many people trying to get liquor licenses? There are procedures to follow, what does he do, get them preferential treatment somehow? It seems like that should be illegal. Sounds very, very fishy to me.

    Honestly, this article raises more questions than it answers.

  5. K Swizzle

    It says they aren’t “Charging” sales tax you idiot. Doesn’t mean they aren’t paying in. Businesses such as Stewarts has the tax factored in so what you see is what you pay. It doesn’t make sense as a competitive strategy, but it is nice to know exactly what your bill will be.

  6. anonymous

    The idiot you are referring to would be you. New York regulation requires that you post the purchase price and then charge tax. It is against the law for any business to “add the tax in” or offer to pay the tax for a purchase. Sorry, buckeroo. That’s the law. You are required to keep copies of your receipts showing the amount charged and how much tax was paid. If they aren’t charging tax, even if they are paying it themselves, they are in violation. If Stewart’s is doing this, they are in violation also. Yes, it would be nice if tax was just added in to the price, but that ain’t the way the law reads. You can check it out yourself. http://www.tax.ny.gov/pdf/publications/sales/pub34.pdf

    1. Honesty

      It would be helpful if you read the entire document before you render legal opinions. If you read the link you posted you find this section as well. I hope you are responsible enough to remove your post or make a correction with the same zeal you used to aledge they are in violation?

      “Where no written receipt is given to the customer at the time of the sale, the unit price method is allowed for sales other than sales of gasoline and diesel fuel. The unit price is the total price charged, including the sales tax. The customer must be made aware that the sales tax is included in the selling price of such sales.”

  7. admin

    All right, the name-calling karma is now balanced, so no more abusive ad-hominem attacks will be approved. – The Editor.

  8. Dr. Israel D. Braunstein

    “How about a slice of pizza and a 12-ounce drink for $2 all day every day?” Woerner offered. “That’s a pretty good lunch for a kid.”

    That is not a good lunch for a kid, an adult or any person for that matter. It is an extremely unhealthy lunch for $2.00, $20.00 or even 20 cents. It is loaded with saturated fats, salt, carbohydrates, and sugars in the soda and even in the sauce. All that with very little nutritional value. Mr. Woerner should keep these foods from his diet as well. At 28 years old, from the picture, he seems to be somewhat overweight.

  9. Nicky B. Woerner

    I’m happy to see that people still care about Mike and myself. Thank you for your comments. Unfortunately, Mr. Reynolds misread our menu and misunderstood our quotes. We charge and collect sales tax on all sales and at the appropriate time make all necessary disbursements to the NYS Department of Taxation and Finance. We also followed publication 750 of the NYSDTF when we created our price structure, an excerpt of that language can be found below.

    “If you do not provide your customer with a written receipt, you may use the alternate unit price method. The unit price is the price of the product, including sales tax, at which the sale is recorded. This price is either rung up on a cash register or accounted for in some other way. If you use this method, you must display a sign telling the customer that the price he or she is paying includes sales tax.”

  10. Rich

    Misread the menu and misunderstood your quote? Could there possibly have been some incomplete answers given Mr. Reynolds? In any event, I am glad you are following the letter of the law.

  11. admin

    Hugh Reynolds’ responds:
    When asked during the interview how they planned to compete with established eateries in the Broadway corridor, Woerner responded:
    “We include tip and tax on deliveries.” This was a direct quote, paraphrased in the published article as, “Woerner and Madsen say they’re more competitive by not charging sales tax or tips on pizza deliveries.”
    For Woerner to bellyache (no pun intended) about the accuracy of the quote is not only boorish – a front page feature on your new business! – but unfounded.

  12. Pizzalover

    I really miss Old Napoli, that was a great pie! Photos make the pizza here look mediocre @ best. There is great pizza on the Broadway corridor, hope these boys can keep up. Pizza is alot harder than politics. You certainly can’t fake it…

  13. Anonymous

    “Hugh Reynolds’ responds:
    When asked during the interview how they planned to compete with established eateries in the Broadway corridor, Woerner responded:
    “We include tip and tax on deliveries.” This was a direct quote, paraphrased in the published article as, “Woerner and Madsen say they’re more competitive by not charging sales tax or tips on pizza deliveries.””

    So sorry, Mr. Reynolds, but this is poor journalism on your part. What Mr. Woerner said and how you paraphrased what was said completely changed the intent and meaning and is nothing more than irresponsible journalism. The screw up lands in your lap. Accept responsibility for your poor journalism skills. The only person exhibiting boorishness here is you

  14. A REAL Primo

    Nicky Werner is already out of there. Makes me wonder what this was all about in the first place. 2 months and he leaves?

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