Pizza Today - July 2020 - 47

W

hy pizza? I
am a selftaught, firstgeneration
restaurateur.
I never
attended
a business
class, never went to culinary school,
and have never had financial investors.
I opened my first restaurant at 22 years
old. If I hadn't found a creative outlet
in pizza, I am certain I would be doing
something similar in another field. I
see opportunity and love the challenge
of taking something that exists and
improving on it. The beauty of pizza is
that it appeals to nearly every person
on earth. It has decent profit margins,
and there are countless interpretations
of it. The best pizza is subjective...so we
can all work hard to become the BEST
PIZZA for our own community.
My values include Service, Quality
and Culture and embody the
following:
1. Have a servant mentality, show
gratitude to every customer, be authentic,
make a real connection, encourage staff
members to be their authentic selves and
show your team members how much
your customers mean to you, don't just
say it. Be on a first name basis with
everyone.
2. Tell the story behind your pizza
- not just quality but the why. Local
partners can be your best allies. Mutual
support, create one-of-a-kind products
they can only get with you.
3. Creating a positive culture. Live
your mission, truly care about your team
members, be vulnerable, admit fault,
sacrifice for each other and care about
the long-term impact of your business.
Leave things better than you found them,
not just the environment, but your team
members, customers and community.
Invest in your people. The restaurant is
our home. We are a family and we are
serving our friends and family dinner
every night. Treat people this way.
4. 'Do the right thing.' When you use
this as your guidepost, it allows you to
think about things in a selfless way and
you almost always do the 'right thing'.

Service, Quality Product and Price
are the three main focal points of
building any business. These are all
critical, however, to build a business that
feels magical and makes people want to
be a part of it, you need to look closer.
Beyond those initial criteria comes
making an emotional connection with
your guest through energy, atmosphere
and purpose. These are the invisibles in
a business that makes it go from average
to exceptional. A restaurant can have
the most amazing food, but if they lack
these other traits, people will not be
drawn back. I believe strongly that the
emotional connection you build with
your guests and community far exceeds
anything else you can do to become
successful. I believe that to be a successful
entrepreneur you cannot undervalue any
one of these things. You must create a
harmonious balance and focus on all of
these characteristics of your business.
It has been said that good food in any
restaurant is not optional. But, I see many
businesses that only focus on creating a
good product without spending any time
thinking about everything else that goes
into the guest experience. I like to look
at my operation through the lens of our
guests: How does it feel to come into our
building, how am I being greeted, how
comfortable is the environment, do I
feel welcome, and do I feel appreciated?
When it comes to energy: Do I feel
lucky to have a table? Do people seem
happy? Do the team members seem
to enjoy their work, and does it lift my
spirits? How about purpose: what does
it mean to support this business? Do
they support their community? Do they
treat their team well? Does the money I
spend impact someone I care about, and
does this business seem to care about
only making a profit or being a part of
the community in a larger way? When
people (your guests and your team)
know you care about their experience
and happiness, they will care about your
success and well-being.
There is a concept that I teach to
every team member on day one:
'Our restaurant is our home.' This is
one big dinner party in which we are
inviting friends and family to come over

for dinner. You cannot look at guests in
your restaurant as paying customers that
you hope to make a profit on. You need
to look at the guests in your restaurant as
friends you are eager to serve and please.
When you look at it this way, you never
get frustrated about a re-fire or discount.
You look at it as making their experience
matter because you truly care about them.
That mindset will translate into building
a relationship of gratitude and trust
where everyone benefits. When your
team members see you treating people
this way, they will act the same way. How
the leader of an organization acts rubs off
on the team, for better or worse. Building
a culture of gratitude and respect for
others will permeate throughout your
team and help make it a good place
for everyone involved. Developing this
type of environment will make it a place
people will want to be a part of !
The more I think about it, my
life is like many others who are in
this industry. We came into the pizza
business at a young age to earn some
extra cash until the next thing in our
lives. But then something happens...
there is a magic force that takes control
of you. The feeling of creating something
from scratch that brings happiness
to others; that feeling of camaraderie
after a long Friday night when the
team pulls together and finally clears
out the ticket window; that feeling you
get when you see all of your hard work
starting to pay off; the feeling that there
is no limit to what you can do, that
the more you pour yourself into your
business, the more returns it will yield.
All of these reasons are why I am still
in the pizza business after 17 years and
nearly half of my life. Another reason
I love serving pizza is that everyone
has sentimental attachments to it from
their childhood. It brings a sense of
happiness and togetherness for people.
As a neighborhood pizza joint, we get to
be woven into the happy memories of all
those kids that grow up eating our pie.
Our business has been a constant
evolution from day one. As we started
to see our hard work yielding results, we
continued to reinvest in our business. I
always look at the profits of our business
J U LY 2 0 2 0 / P I Z Z AT O D AY. C O M / 4 7

044_PIZ_0720_FTYEA.indd 47

6/9/20 10:22 AM


http://www.PIZZATODAY.COM

Pizza Today - July 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Pizza Today - July 2020

Pizza Today - July 2020
Commentary
Digital
Conversation
Mike’s Monthly Tip
Man on the Street
Building Blocks
Tony’s Trending Recipe
Knead to Know
Destinations
Upselling Carryout
COVID-19
Reducing Costs
Summer Tomatoes
Summer Greens
Summer Salads
Young Entrepreneur of the Year
Product showcase
Pizza Today Yellow Pages
The Marketplace
Expo Spotlight
Pizza Today - July 2020 - CT1
Pizza Today - July 2020 - CT2
Pizza Today - July 2020 - Pizza Today - July 2020
Pizza Today - July 2020 - Cover2
Pizza Today - July 2020 - Commentary
Pizza Today - July 2020 - 4
Pizza Today - July 2020 - 5
Pizza Today - July 2020 - 6
Pizza Today - July 2020 - 7
Pizza Today - July 2020 - Digital
Pizza Today - July 2020 - 9
Pizza Today - July 2020 - Conversation
Pizza Today - July 2020 - 11
Pizza Today - July 2020 - Mike’s Monthly Tip
Pizza Today - July 2020 - 13
Pizza Today - July 2020 - Man on the Street
Pizza Today - July 2020 - 15
Pizza Today - July 2020 - Building Blocks
Pizza Today - July 2020 - 17
Pizza Today - July 2020 - Tony’s Trending Recipe
Pizza Today - July 2020 - 19
Pizza Today - July 2020 - Knead to Know
Pizza Today - July 2020 - 21
Pizza Today - July 2020 - 22
Pizza Today - July 2020 - 23
Pizza Today - July 2020 - Destinations
Pizza Today - July 2020 - 25
Pizza Today - July 2020 - Upselling Carryout
Pizza Today - July 2020 - 27
Pizza Today - July 2020 - 28
Pizza Today - July 2020 - 29
Pizza Today - July 2020 - COVID-19
Pizza Today - July 2020 - 31
Pizza Today - July 2020 - 32
Pizza Today - July 2020 - 33
Pizza Today - July 2020 - Reducing Costs
Pizza Today - July 2020 - 35
Pizza Today - July 2020 - Summer Tomatoes
Pizza Today - July 2020 - 37
Pizza Today - July 2020 - 38
Pizza Today - July 2020 - 39
Pizza Today - July 2020 - Summer Greens
Pizza Today - July 2020 - 41
Pizza Today - July 2020 - Summer Salads
Pizza Today - July 2020 - 43
Pizza Today - July 2020 - Young Entrepreneur of the Year
Pizza Today - July 2020 - 45
Pizza Today - July 2020 - 46
Pizza Today - July 2020 - 47
Pizza Today - July 2020 - 48
Pizza Today - July 2020 - 49
Pizza Today - July 2020 - Product showcase
Pizza Today - July 2020 - 51
Pizza Today - July 2020 - Pizza Today Yellow Pages
Pizza Today - July 2020 - 53
Pizza Today - July 2020 - 54
Pizza Today - July 2020 - 55
Pizza Today - July 2020 - 56
Pizza Today - July 2020 - 57
Pizza Today - July 2020 - The Marketplace
Pizza Today - July 2020 - 59
Pizza Today - July 2020 - 60
Pizza Today - July 2020 - 61
Pizza Today - July 2020 - 62
Pizza Today - July 2020 - 63
Pizza Today - July 2020 - 64
Pizza Today - July 2020 - 65
Pizza Today - July 2020 - Expo Spotlight
Pizza Today - July 2020 - Cover3
Pizza Today - July 2020 - Cover4
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