New Lenox, Illinois
With four company-owned and franchised locations, the carryout and delivery pizza company celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. Owner Dave Dombrowski bought the existing pizzeria when he was just 20 years old. He serves thin-crust and thick-crust pizza along with broasted chicken.
Dave dishes on Pizza Mia’s franchising & 25th Anniversary
Our biggest Seller is our thin-crust pizza — so thin, cracker kind of crust, crispy. We use a revolving oven. It’s 500 F and a 10- or 11-minute bake time. Along with that, we do have a decent-sized menu.
Keys to success — I started when I was 20 years old. This year I will have been in business for 25 years. There is no magical thing that I do. It all comes down to great service, great product and good pricing. It all comes down to making a great product and being consistent all of the time. It sounds simple, but that is the hard part — doing that day in and day out over and over again.
On growth — It’s been a very interesting road on that aspect. The first store opened in ‘91 and I opened the second one on my own in ‘93. So from ‘93 to ‘97, I owned and operated two stores. It was a struggle. The second location was off the charts from day one. The original location I sold in ‘97 to focus on the growth of that second location. From ‘97 all the way to 2006 I just owned and operated that one store. Probably by ‘05, I started to become a little bored. I had everything so fine-tuned by then that I was really itching to open up something else. And I wanted to give it another shot. So in ‘06 I opened up a second location. That store immediately took off, way more than I could have even imagined. After two years of doing that and knowing I can do this again somewhere, that’s when I went into franchising in ‘08. It probably took me a good year and a half just to get all of the legal work. It was a lot of work becoming able to sell a franchise. I ended up selling the store I opened in ‘93 to my manager to become the first franchisee. Then about a year later, I actually had my second franchise that I sold. That was a customer who enjoyed the product and was changing careers so he opened up the third store. That was five years ago. Last year, I sold another one. Similar situation, a customer, total career change.
On franchising — I think I have a system in place and that’s the biggest thing that is attractive for a franchisee to come aboard. It allows me to grow the company without coming up with capital to open a company-owned store. It is a lot of work getting the franchisee up and running. …That’s the payoff. It’s not so much ‘Yeah, you are going to get a franchise fee’ or ‘Yeah, you’re going to get a royalty.’ For me, at the end of the day, I’m able to take my knowledge and take a raw individual and train this person for them to become successful in this industry. That, to me, is the ultimate reward of it all.
Why sell broasted chicken?
The biggest reason for putting the broasted chicken on the menu was to drum up new customers, different customers than those who might have eaten the pizza from the prior owner and didn’t like it. So the chicken catapulted the business in the very beginning in that original location. We promoted that chicken very heavily and people were very receptive to it. It’s a good one-two punch and it’s a great supplement to the business.