I’m sometimes amazed when I visit a pizzeria and learn it isn’t open for lunch. Is prep so overwhelming that they’re not able to handle two day parts? Is business just so good that it’s not needed? Is there simply not enough lunch business to necessitate being staffed and prepped?
In April 2000, then Editor-in-Chief Bruce Allar –– now our VP of Meetings and Conferences –– took a hard look at how pizzerias could increase their sales by adding lunch. Some 14 years later, our advice then still holds true:
• Working folks have limited time. Make it fast. That not only means how quick you expedite an order, but also your portion size. The smaller the portion size, the less chance that it will go uneaten or a box will be needed.
• Make it affordable. My mother works in an office where lunch is a social hour for her and her co-workers. They eat out nearly every day. One of their favorite lunch spots is Boombozz Pizza & Taphouse, where they can get a slice of cheese pizza and a salad for under $5. A franchised location for the company is actually closer to their office building, but they’ll drive the extra few miles to get the bargain. Better still? They go there weekly.
• Consider delivery at lunch. Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches has made a big deal over the fact that they’ll deliver one lone sandwich. That’s a big boon for someone who left their bagged lunch at home or doesn’t have a vehicle.
• Catering can be key. Even if you don’t want to physically open during lunch, you’ve probably got the capability to offer catering. We’ve covered catering extensively in the magazine. Just search the archives for great ideas to get you started.
• Know your demographics. Location will be crucial to getting that lunch business in. Does it pay to be open during the day?
• Sample, sample, sample. Our 2013 Independent of the Year, Fresh Brothers, gives away more than $10,000 in free food each year. One tiny slice of pizza could mean a return guest … or a large catering order.
What’s your best lunch trick? We’re betting those of you who offer it probably have a trick or two to share.