Throwback Thursday: Location rules in April 2001

April 2001Few covers drive home the importance of “location, location, location” like a serious guy staking his claim like an 1840s gold rusher. (That’s a former PT staff member. We’ve got brains and beauty!) Our cover story in April 2001 was all about choosing the right spot for your pizzeria.

In my time at Pizza Today, I’ve visited dozens of pizzerias across the country. Some of the best locations would surprise you –– a seemingly unremarkable strip mall or a standalone unit on a busy highway –– while others that you might assume would kill just couldn’t make it (think mall). I’ve been everywhere from a tiny converted house in a suburb of Buffalo, New York, to major urban street corners in New York City. What do they have in common? A great spot.

Most restaurant consultants will tell you that choosing a location is just as important as the pizza you’re putting out. Consider:

  • Local competition. What’s around you?
  • Your concept. If you’re a counter-service business and there’s already three in your immediate vicinity, is there room for you, too?
  • Traffic, both foot and vehicular. Just because you’re considering, say, a busy waterfront boardwalk doesn’t ensure success (although that is not the case for Pi-zzeria in Virginia Beach). Take a look at other restaurants that haven’t made it in the area –– then find out why they tanked.
  • Rent. It’s not a pretty topic, but that boardwalk location might seem ideal until you factor in $10,000 in monthly rent. Can you afford that right out of the gate?
  • Demographics. Who’s your clientele –– and how are you going to get them in? Check out this column from highly successful operator Tony Gemignani about his Pizza Rock opening in Las Vegas, and how he changed his concept to cater to the Vegas demographic.
  • Your landlord. Talk to other tenants and see how easy they are to deal with.
  • Parking. Do you have a dedicated lot, or are customers going to have to shell out cash for street meters or a parking garage?

These same principles apply to moving your business. When Chef Jeff Freehof decided to move to a new location, he already had an established brand but a new build-out presented some challenges. The costs associated with moving are always greater than you probably expect.

Finally, if you missed our October 2012 story on unique pizzerias, check it out here. Not only did we win a national award for the issue, we also had the best time traveling to these one-of-a-kind places.