The somber talk in Courtroom 702 in Arlington Circuit Court yesterday was not your run-of-the-mill legal argument.
It dealt with confidential recipes for pizza sauce, the "overloading" of submarine sandwiches and a mobile pizza van called "Delicious Depot."
The real decision before Judge Paul F. Sheridan was whether the owners of Peppy's had broken their franchise agreement with Marino's.
For almost an hour during what is normally the time for the court's lunchtime recess, two Northern Virginia pizza shop owners battled over the breaking of a franchise agreement.
Last month Jerome Mager and Harvey Chidel, former owners of a Marino's Pizza and Subs franchise, decided to sever their agreement with Marino's in which they ran stores at 4110 Columbia Pike in Arlington and 9590 East Lee Highway in Fairfax.
Instead, the two decided to do business as Peppy's Pizza at the same sites. They kept the same red, white, and gray color scheme as Marino's and, initially, answered the telephone "Peppy's Pizza, formerly Marino's."
Scott G. Smith and Richard E. Blair, attorneys for Marino's, argued that the two men had "blatantly" violated their contracts with Marino's after capitalizing on the seven-store chain's "trade secrets and accumulated know-how."
Some of those trade secrets, the lawyers said, were passed on in a "confidential operating manual" that discloses Marino's recipes for pizza sauces and business practices.
The similarities between Peppy's and Marino's would only confuse Marino's customers and, if allowed to continue, could lead to other "break-away franchises" that could cause financial ruin for Marino's, they said.
Smith also argued that Mager and Chidel had violated the contract's stipulation that they would not open a competing pizza franchise within five miles of Marino's or within one year.
Julian Karpoff, the attorney for the owners of Peppy's, argued that Marino's essentially had undermined his clients' operations because Mario's Pizza also is owned by the company.
Mario's, Karpoff argued, unfairly competed with Marino's by "loading" its submarine sandwiches with more food than Marino's was allowed to do under company instructions.
It also sold pizza and subs to the "Delicious Depot" pizza van that peddled them in Marino's territory; and advertised cut-rate prices that Marino's had to match because of "popular demand."
By the end of the hearing, Sheridan agreed to enjoin Mager and Chidel temporarily from presenting themselves to the public as Peppy's Pizza until a trial could be set on the merits of the case.
But Sheridan was barely off the bench when Karpoff said he planned to appeal the order.
The two sides then left the courtroom on the seventh floor to appeal to the Virginia Supreme Court in the person of Justice Charles S. Russell, who has an office on the first floor.
Any appeal, however, will have to wait until next week because Russell was out at lunch. Courthouse rumor had it that he was not eating pizza.