Thinking of opening a pizza place. Looking for advice from other pizza shop owners ?

 

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Thinking of opening a pizza place. Looking for advice from other pizza shop owners ?

To start off I would like to say I have some family members who own pizza shops in other states. And my grandfather as a potential investor. I also have experience working for a large pizza chain. And experience working for a ma & pop small town pizza shop.

I’m looking for general advice about opening a pizza shop. I know how operations work. But I have no idea what all goes into the actual start up of a pizza place. My idea would be a smaller shop in a small shopping mall start off with a smaller menu with basic stuff and build up from there. I would work there full time. And I have a friend with restaurant experience (not pizza though) who would also work full time as my right hand man. I would like to offer dine in/take out, as well as delivery through a company like GrubHub.

So basically. I’m here to gather advice from pizza shop owners about do’s/dont’s with starting a shop. And also advice on whether it’s worth it or not.

The area I live in is very saturated with pizza shops. But it’s a large city with a huge population. All the pizza shops I’ve ever been to here have stayed very busy even through this time of covid.

Thinking of opening a pizza place. Looking for advice from other pizza shop owners ?

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38 Replies to “Thinking of opening a pizza place. Looking for advice from other pizza shop owners ?”

  1. I’ve never ran or worked in the food business but having done some research into Ubereats/Door Dash/ Grubhub you will not make great money using them for delivery (which is core pizza shop business). Do your own delivery.

  2. A small in dependant pizza place opened in a small town near me. There was already 3 othe rpizza places established, all well known chains. The small town could barely support the 3, no room for a 4th. But… The guy had a wicked dough recipe, you could watch them use the wood fired oven, unique recipes, local and most importantly fresh ingredients. It wasn’t a huge menu, but it was a solid menu. The prices were higher then all the rest of the chains, but the quality was unmatched. Within 4 months all the other places had closed and now they have the whole town and surrounding area to themselves.

  3. Don’t hide kids in the basement. There’s a lot of that going around apparently and people don’t like it.

  4. One thing that I would recommend for any business is to do as much in house as you can. This goes doubly for restaurants and triply so for Pizza joints.

    I have been to too many places that have AWESOME dough but the same $5 cheap pizza topping you get from Sysco.

    Keep your menu small. Make it all in house (including the ranch) to keep costs down. Don’t worry about delivery up front. Be open to alternate shopfronts like a food truck or [even an oven in the back of a truck](https://www.insider.com/la-secret-parking-lot-pizza-2019-6).

    Be diligent to ensure your paperwork is on point (if food paperwork is as deep as clothing paperwork you’ll need to make buddies with your local permit department), make sure you work clean. Make sure you have enough cash to let this ride for 6-12 months. Get on that instagram game. Get mechanisms in to get regulars and be great with your customers (if you are not a people person this may not be fore you).

    Also remember that this will probably fail and will be hard and have a learning curve. That shouldn’t stop you as each setback is going to teach you what to do and not to do and get a thick skin.

    Working for yourself is a hell of a lot harder than going into an office or logging into Zoom every day on someone else’s dime but if you really want to make some waves and give back to your community, this is a great way to do it.

    Good luck!

  5. Make yourself different. There has to be a reason for someone to go to you and not the next joe down the street or a damn Pizza Hut. Perhaps specialty items have to be desired. Or a theme that isn’t lame? Something has to set you apart and draw people to you.
    I’ll tell you what, where I live there are so many pizza places that are literally just pizza places. It’s quite boring and doesn’t stop me from going to a major chain.

  6. I’ve had an idea on how to bootstrap this… You can make a relatively inexpensive but effective wood-fired oven on wheels and pull it behind you. You could take that to carnivals or wherever the hell else they Food truck would go. Make your own dough at night, keep it in a fridge and the other ingredients and take them out. Sell half pizzas, or smaller pizzas. The upfront costs of starting a restaurant or quite high, with a very low chance of success. You’re also going to need incredible marketing to get your name out there. Most restaurants lose money for the first few years, but I have known some pizzerias to do very well right off the bat If you know what you’re doing.

  7. **Not a business owner**

    I really like how Blaze pizza is setup. Personal Pizza with an assembly line of toppings that the customer points to (kinda like subway). [https://hq.blazepizza.com/menu](https://hq.blazepizza.com/menu)

    That idea works fantastically for lunch, but there is nothing stopping you from doing full sizes as well for the family/dinner crowd. If I was going to do a place I would try and incorporate those two ideas together. Also in house dough and wood fired oven if you can.

  8. Started up selling Detroit-style pizza about a month ago. Working out of a shared kitchen, so the overhead is low and pizza ingredients aren’t typically that expensive. Only open a few days a week to start. I have no employees, my wife takes care of getting orders out to people (curbside pickup or delivery drivers). I’m having a lot of fun so far

  9. Lots of good advice here, but one thing to remember is that it’s a different world these days in terms of cleanliness and service expectations – compared to a just a few years ago. And with covid people will be even more aware. Suburbanites were/are getting pickier than ever about cleanliness. Chic fil a sets the standard in fast food, sit down restaurants should have a focus on cleanliness and it should be part of the culture – to the point of excess. People won’t bother to tell you, they just won’t come back.

  10. Don’t compete on price, compete on quality. In a large city, there’s always room for one more great spot. You don’t need to have a lot of pizza options or have a large shop. Keep it minimal but do it great.

    Also, you don’t have to (and can’t) make an infinite amount of pizzas. Small shops have a limit to the amount of dough they can make. There’s been shops I know that advertise that they only make 40 or 50 pies a day and only open 4 nights a week, and there’s a line out the door everyday when they open. There’s other shops that focus on walk up slices w/ limited whole pies reserved. I know another that only does margheritas, but it’s the best you’ve ever had w/ minimal alternative toppings. The common thread in their longevity and success is that they make amazing dough/pizza consistently, don’t overextend themselves, and charge accordingly.

    Side note: After gaining momentum, these small shops use Instagram to give updates or let people know when they’re sold out and has been vital for them during this time.

  11. Other than your brand/marketing. You’ll have to have a lease signed, equipment, licenses, permits, incorporation, food/beverage supplier.

    Systems/Technologies are something to think about. My beef with companies like GrubHub, Skip, UberEats, etc..is that they take way too much % of your sale. You may just want to set up online ordering through a web app. Sure the initial cost is high but long-term, it’s worth it.

    This is just the very bare bones of a pizza shop and you will need to work with your right hand man that has no experience in pizza. Good luck!

  12. People are still becoming multi-millionaires off pizza shops. One here in Toronto that is pretty new and KILLING it is Pi Co.

    It’s all about execution my man.

  13. Research the heck of competition in your area. Read google reviews. Look into what places are located around where you want to open. What kind of neighbourhood ( income wise ).

    Find suppliers of fresh ingredients produced by local farmers in your area.

    Think about how you can market yourself based on you the age and location

    Google reviews are important!

    You are planning to open during pandemic/ financial crisis so account that in too. Start with deliveries and pick ups.

    Establish easy and short menu. Customer service and customer experience during their first visit is EVERYTHING.

    First 3 months will be auckward but stick to quality. 1 st year is always a learning curve.

    Also I would think about a kick start by going to a popular place in town with your pizza to let people taste test it and spread the awareness of your food. +media coverage

    Good luck!

  14. There’s like 14 pizza places in the town I’m in. The pizza place I used to work for was selling 2 pies for $10 with free delivery when the other places were like $8 a pie at the time. He was making an absolute killing but they were absolutely busting their asses during that time. For like a year he kept it up with minor price increases and then after he had a good customer base he gradually icreased his prices to match the other places. There was literally like a fleet of us delivery guys and we were all doing pretty good. Maybe do something like that. If you get your own delivery guys just be careful, they absolutely will steal from you if they think they can get away with it and so much other shady stuff. I was a delivery manager for years so I’ve seen it all. Don’t be scared to fire them as they’re a dime a dozen.

  15. Start a ghost kitchen and focus on delivery. Less overhead and no rent to worry. Make sure you get all of the state compliance and inspections/paperwork. Also don’t cheap put on marketing. Sometimes the best food places aren’t the most delicious but rather the most advertised. Also see if Cloudkitchen is a fit for you.

  16. I heard a story about an Atlantic City boardwalk pizzeria that just got caught for $800,000 in unpaid taxes in just two years! They must be selling a lot of slices. The local pizza guy near me just died in a skiing accident on a ski trip in France. Another guy who made a lot of money with pizza.

  17. Do you have any quality pizza recipes? Especially a dough? You’ll need to stand out amongst competition for something other than being another pizza shop that people have no choice to visit because they do have a choice.

    Keeping good people employed is the biggest challenge. Run as lean as you can employment wise for as long as you can.

    Good luck!

  18. If you can make a Buffalo style pizza and wings. My God… you’d be the best shop in town. Visit buffalo talk to some small shops. Maybe if you’re lucky they’ll give you their secret formula.

  19. Suggest looking into an already established place up for sale. Usually a little TLC and reinvigorated owner can make a profitable business. And even if you don’t end up buying it, you can get ahold of the financials and get a feel for your costs and opportunities….after signing an NDA of course.

  20. If your area is already saturated, you’re going to need to differentiate, a LOT. You better have some sort of unique sauce recipe, cheese blends, and/or family secret dough to create a pizza that tastes better than any other out there.

    In addition, you’re going to need to create an ambiance that no other joint has.

    ​

    Good luck.

  21. You should use the wisdom of your family members. Pick their brain.. they will be able to guide you with everything you need to get started. Once you get started you should be able to shift and adjust your business to your needs

  22. In my area, we have 3 pizza places right next to each other. They are all locally owned and we live in a fairly small town. Make sure that you have good sandwiches and use good ingredients. One went out of business due to there pizza being known as the worst of the three. The other two are doing fine but we always order from one because they make the best Philly cheesesteaks. My advice, make good sandwiches.

  23. Maybe find out from the local population what they want that the existing pizza shops aren’t supplying. Better quality? Different toppings? Faster delivery? Easier/faster access in certain locations at certain times?

    Are your potential future competitors in an area large chains (which may be somewhat inflexible on what they can provide, giving you an edge) or small individual places (which may not be able to provide other things you can do better)?

  24. Get a drive through option if you can, the busiest pizza place near me has a drive through, with Covid it’s an even better option

  25. If you want walk-in and high margin extras, sell draft beers on tap and have a decent outdoor area that’s dog friendly. Partner with a local brewery to feature their beer and they’ll cut you big discounts on kegs.

    Make it as easy as possible to order online. Not just for delivery and takeout, but from the tables. Let the people outside order another round and an appetizer without getting off their asses and you’ll sell more.

  26. I would corner that gluten-free dough market. For those of us with Celiac and legitimate gluten allergies we will show up every time if you educate yourself on the disease, cross-contamination, and market to us. And, hey, you’ll get the fad dieters too! I’ll tell you as someone with a diagnosed gluten allergy there are no good pizza options besides making your own at home. Good luck!

  27. Have you thought about what you’d like to offer for beverages? I used to work in sales for Coca-Cola.

    Pick Coke OR Pepsi- do not sell both. I found many businesses wanted to offer both to cater to all customers, but they ended up just tying up more real estate and money than they needed to into their drinks.

    If you’re going to be successful, it’s because of your food and not the kind of soda you carry. Feel free to PM me if you have any further questions.

  28. One day I want to try to do the same thing, selling pizzas. For now I am buying chain pizzas. I was eating Cesar’s for a couple of years than I went back to papa John’s! It was awesome. Super fresh ingredients!

  29. I would recommend that you nail your pizza recipe and flesh out a full-blown menu before you start dreaming about pizza shops.

    Many years ago, I worked for this company that was bought out by some guy who knew nothing about food. He just looked at this franchise and thought it would be a good investment/business opportunity, but he didn’t really think about making sure that he had a stand-out product. He just figured that sandwiches would sell themselves. Well, guess what? They didn’t.

    Why would people go to your pizza shop over your competitors? What is special about your recipe? Do you have a special sauce? Are your pizzas brick oven-baked? Do you use superior cheeses? Are your pizza recipes unique? Are you gourmet? These are all more important than whether or not you should open a pizza shop right now.

  30. Put 90% of your effort into developing recipes, for sauce, dough, and toppings. As an independent, you will benefit from having a flavor no chain has. Make sure every customer is either happy to begin with or made whole by your efforts if you or and employee trips. Do not try to compete at a cost/profit ratio with the chains. Be a maverick and offer something they don’t. I’ve worked at a half dozen pizza places, independents and chains. My friend growing up is a 2 time word champion for his pizza and owns a few places in Colorado, he offers something different and it works well for him.

  31. Hit me up if you want a website. I can do something for free that offer puck up or delivery.

    Im currently working on a website for a Taxi and basically uses the same operations.

    The reason uber and lyft don’t work for a lot of drivers is because they get paid by the gig and not the hour. Also uber takes like 30% from drivers i would suspect they do something similar with deliveries.

    I used to work domino’s and the model was basically the following. $10 min order for delivery. +$4 delivery fee. I’m guessing they paid for our gas from here which was somewhere around .23.24 cents a mile.

    They always have a deal where 1 pizza is like $10 but for 2 pizzas it’s $5.99 each. Each pizza was roughly $1.50 to make in ingredients. They charged $2 for every additional topping.

    I think the value was in the upsell. More toppings, “want a drink with that” was something we always had to upsell.

    They were quick on making the pizzas and were huge i getting food out and delivered quick. We had a good manager who cared about employees so we where more keen to do a good job and good customer service.

    Th e pos was connected to screens for the cooks and 1 for the driver dispatch. We usually had 2-3 cooks and 4-6 drivers on a normal day.

  32. Off topic , but I just want to say r/smallbusiness is a great and very helpful community. I love the genuine and honest advice everyone’s been giving. I hope your pizza shop venture is a success!

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