Kurt Cilen, owner, New York Pizza Department, Chattanooga, Tennessee talks pizza business fundamentals

Kurt Cilen, owner, New York Pizza Department, Chattanooga, Tennessee

Kurt Cilen, owner, New York Pizza Department, Chattanooga, Tennessee

Living in a world where there are a million different pizza places on every street corner, it takes a lot to separate your self from the others and the competition.

Here at the New York Pizza Department in Chattanooga, Tennessee, we pride ourselves on providing our customers the closest authentic New York-style pizza experience possible by doing it the old school New York way. We give our customers nothing but top quality products with only the freshest and finest ingredients.

Growing up in New York we used to be accustomed to all the mom-and-pop places across the city that used to spend hours on top of hours in the kitchen making everything from scratch and putting their blood, sweat and tears into their product and ingredients as if they didn’t know any better. All these shortcuts these days didn’t exist back then and you had to actually provide manual labor to make it happen.

Times have sure changed, but here at the New York Pizza Department, we have gone back to our roots and we try to live by the same philosophies of our ancestors by hard work and making almost everything in house. We make our dough from scratch, shred and blend our own cheese, make our own sauce from scratch using vine-ripened whole tomatoes and cut 90 percent of our vegetables daily to keep the freshness rather than having everything pre-packaged, pre-cut or frozen like most others do these days. In other words, fresh is good and hard work always pays off in the end.

Consistency is also a huge factor for us here and we pride ourselves on being consistent on a daily basis and providing each customer the same dining experience whether it’s lunch time, dinner time, a Tuesday or a Friday. We strive that no matter when you come dine with us you’re going to get the same experience as the person before you, which means making sure the pies or slices are cooked the same every time. It also means making sure you’re consistent on the amount of cheese and sauce we use. I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve been to a pizza place and the pizza didn’t look or taste the same as the previous visit. I’ve taken those experiences and applied them to our place in hopes of the same thing not happening here.

We also believe in customer service and making each and every customer feel as if they are part of our family and the only person that matters. In return, this helps build rapport and loyalty. Without the customer we would not be in business and each and every one of our employees understands this and in return gives exceptional service. Last not but not least is believing in yourself and your product and standing by what you sell and branding yourself through different avenues of marketing with confidence. My old saying goes: “If you wouldn’t eat it yourself what do you think the customer is going to think”? We are proud of what we do here and we show it off daily and know that we are putting our best foot forward and have no regrets. That’s why I can confidently advertise as the best New York-style pizzeria in the entire Southeastern United States and possibly the best outside the city itself. Not because it sounds good or looks good in a publication, but it’s the truth.

At the end of the day what separates us from other pizzerias around the country is paying attention to detail and believing in what we do by setting the bar high for others to try and compete and replicate our product.