Most Boston renters consider themselves lucky if they score amenities like in-unit laundry or a free parking spot.
But for the tenants of one East Boston three-bedroom, there’s a perk that’s made-to-order: free pizza, once a week.
The saucy add-on came into existence in 2019, when Sam Sokol purchased the building at the corner of Maverick and Border streets to open an outpost of the Newbury Street pizza joint Dirty Water Dough. When it came to advertising the 1,100-square-foot, two-floor apartment that sits atop the restaurant, Sokol and his property management team wanted to find a competitive edge against other inventory flooding the neighborhood.
“It’s not always fun to live on top of a restaurant, right? There’s gonna be some extra noise. There might be some smells. So how do we incite people to want to live in this apartment?” said Sokol. “We said, ‘Well, why don’t we kind of include them in feeling like they’re a part of it?’”
Since then, several groups of tenants have called the apartment home — and made Dirty Water their once-a-week kitchen. One of these tenants, Max Tabakin, who lived there with two roommates from January through August of 2022, made a TikTok video about the setup, which has racked up 3.7 million views.
“We had been choosing between apartments and [my roommates] were looking more towards these more modern ones,” said Tabakin, who since moving out has been traveling the world as a freelance videographer. “The way I was able to sell them actually on the apartment was like, ‘Yo, look, this one has pizza. How awesome is that?’”
Sometimes Tabakin and his friends would claim their pie on a Saturday night as a pre-game snack before hitting the bars — or for late-night slices after they returned home. Their favorite was the mac-and-cheese pizza, but “we tried pretty much every pizza on the menu,” Tabakin said of an eclectic selection that includes options like steak-and-cola (a pie topped with Coca Cola-marinated steak) and the “Fenway Frank” (topped with hot dogs and yellow mustard).
It has fallen on the restaurant staff to try to keep track of when the tenants claim their weekly allowance, but “nobody was trying to take advantage or anything,” said manager Jacqueline Babin.
“It was nice, having short little chats when they came down to pick up their pizza,” said Babin of previous tenants. “Like new friends we didn’t know we had.”
Shortly after Sokol took over the property, the COVID-19 pandemic froze the rental market, leading to a spike in vacancies in East Boston. But in the years since, the market has rebounded, and supply has tightened once more, with rents around here still on the ascent.
“I guess we probably don’t need [the pizza perk] anymore because there’s a much higher demand nowadays,” he said.
Indeed they didn’t: When the apartment went back on the market earlier this year, the pizza perk had fallen off the property listing, though Sokol said he never officially rolled it back.
The current tenants locked down the unit through a broker, Charles Haritos of Metro Realty, who said he was never told about the arrangement.
“I don’t exactly get a lot of food deals for my clients,” he said when a Globe reporter told him about the amenity. “The tenants were pretty lucky that I didn’t know about that concession, because I probably would have taken the place myself.”
So the current group of tenants signed the $3,300 lease and moved in on July 1, none the wiser about the free pizza, though an all-caps note about it has remained in the unit’s listing on Apartments.com.
The privilege remained unbeknownst to the tenants until a Globe reporter’s query about the arrangement prompted Sokol to connect the reporter to the current tenants.
Once he was informed of the free weekly pizza, Evan Taylor, a local college student who is one of the current residents, said he was looking forward to inaugurating it with a pepperoni pie. He said it will be a boon on nights when he doesn’t feel like cooking, such as after working a 10-hour shift at Starbucks.
“I’ve been trying to avoid it, actually, because I love pizza and I’m super scared that if I gave into the convenience of having a pizza place right downstairs, then I’ll just eat pizza, like, every day,” he said. “But now that there’s this free pizza in it for me, I think I’ll definitely be down there more.”
Before you ask: No, Evan has no plans of moving any time soon. But if and when the digs become vacant once more, Sokol said free pizza would remain a permanent topping.
“I don’t think I’ll ever get rid of that perk,” he said. “If you live above the restaurant, you will always have that privilege.”