August 1, 2016 |

More Pizza Competition Q&A

By Denise Greer

Jay Jerrier-Cane Rosso
Mark Gold

PT: When it comes to pizza competition, I never…

Jerrier: “sweat the small stuff”.  This is a marathon, not a sprint.  We are in this for the long haul.  Lots of competitors and copycats will open…and ultimately close.  You can’t make crappy pizza and stand the test of time.  Once people realize what a hassle it is to make a truly quality pizza, they’ll start cutting corners to save money.  Customers are not dumb.  They know what’s good and what is shoddy.

Bougie: Assume that we do it better than our competition and that there is never room for improvement

Gold: I never lose any sleep over it.

Kapin: spend to much time worrying about what others are doing, I keep tabs on trends, assess if they make sense for our brand and focus on being the best we can be.

Page: I never….want to pass up the opportunity to try all of the submissions.

Famulari: take it lightly. It’s a serious part of the pizza game.  Everyone loves pizza, and we want as many people to love our pizza as much as possible!

PT: What do you do when a pizzeria opens across the street?

Jerrier: Go and try their pizza…then wait for them to shut down so we can take their space :).  Just kidding.  We definitely go and try the pizza to see where they fit in the grand scheme of things.  I never think it’s a good idea to open competing pizzerias near each other – I would never open next to someone unless it’s a crappy chain.  Why split a market?  We like to open with complimentary neighbors (bars, live music, burgers, law firms, hospitals, etc.).

Bougie: Immediately go to eat there, as well as continue to patronize the establishment

Gold: Look at their menu and don’t lose any sleep over it because they are never going to make it long term (almost always).

Kapin: Hasn’t happened to us.

Page: This happened to us when we first opened our downtown location.  A pizzeria opened up shortly after we did.   We went and introduced ourselves; welcomed them to the neighborhood and supported their business.    I believe in friendly competition and the more that competitors can support each other; the more the businesses will thrive which ultimately results in a huge win for the customer because they have variety.  Variety is the spice of life.

Famulari: Take a deep breath, focus on what we can do better at our locations, and wish them luck; it’s a tough, competitive, business.

PT: How would you classify your market?

Jerrier: Dallas is the land of awful chain pizzeria.  There are very few quality-focused pizzerias in the market.  The pizza shops that have opened in the last year or so have all been the “OMG!! It’s the Chipotle of Pizza Build Your Own” places.  Most of them aren’t really competitors as they are going for low quality, high volume $7 pizzas with industrial/institutional toppings (i.e. sausage pellets).  We’ve seen more Pie Five, Project Pie, Blaze, Spin, etc. type of places open vs. independents focused on making a legitimate pizza.

Bougie: Our market is for the artisanal pizza/foodie market.  We use high end quality products, to produce the freshest end products as possible.

Gold: Enormous. Its not just pizza competition.  There is competition for all of our other food items like wings and subs, which is compounded because everyone is delivering now, both internally and through third party companies.

Kapin: Santa Fe has a population of 83,000 with over 200 independently operated (non chain) restaurants competing for both local & tourist dollars.   Last I checked there were about 12 other independent pizzerias & the usual chains ( dominos, pizza hut, papa murphys, sbarro, little caesar’s, etc.) so we are competing with a good bunch of pizza for a small size city.   Santa Fe is a resort community w/ tourism as one of the top industries.  There is a big divide between whether your business is located and catering to tourist or locals.  We very intentionally wanted to be a locals spot and are tucked right into a neighborhood pretty far away from all the tourism hot spots in Santa Fe.   In that, I would say that more than being in direct competition with many of the other pizzerias, we are in competition with the other affordable, casual, beloved locals spots.

Page: We are an independently owned, full-service casual pizza restaurant featuring Chinese/Italian fusion, a tiki bar, and a stellar beer selection.   We are home to the original Crab Rangoon pizza.

Famulari: In 2008 when we opened our first location we were in an area where there was a large amount of residential growth, but not too much growth in the pizza side of things; there were a few small pizzerias and the usual chain pizza places.  Since then a lot has changed, many mom and pop style pizza companies have opened and even more chain pizza places have come to the party.  We were happy to be one of the first companies to find the area as it gave us a good foothold on the area before the pizza boom.

PT: What are the controllable areas of focus where you make adjustments to edge out competition?

Jerrier: We spend a lot of time focused on the way we make our dough – the amount of water, the yeast, starter or no starter?, how we proof it.  The way we make dough today is completely different from how we made it when we first opened…it’s much lighter and with better flavor today.  It all comes down to the quality of our food – we constantly look at our menu…not necessarily to add or remove items, but to make sure that we everything on our menu is made perfectly.  If the food is always good, you’ll always have customers.

We also spend a lot of time thinking about how to make our dining experience a lot of fun – from cool artwork or seating, to creative special nights to drive traffic during mid-week – $1 pizza nights, Celebrity Chef Nights (local Dallas big time chefs come in and make pizza with us on their night off), Pet Charity Nights, BYOB Nights.  One of the biggest things we did this past year was Pecan Lodge Tuesday.  Every Tuesday we pick up some brisket from our neighbors, nationally famous Pecan Lodge Barbecue (just across the street from us), and we make a one-night only pizza special.  We generally sell out in a couple of hours…but it has taken a normally slow Tuesday to one of our top revenue days.

Whether or not we have the best pizza in Dallas (hint: we do), I know that you will have a good time when you come to one of our restaurants.

Bougie: Providing a guest focused environment and experience, from beginning to end. Providing high-end/artisanal quality and consistent end-products to our guests

Kapin: I really just put all my focus on supporting my staff and making sure our food & space are delicious, enjoyable & consistent.

Page: We are always looking to keep our menu fresh; with new menu items, better ingredients, and different preparation techniques.   We follow our feedback on social media closely to engage with our customers; and utilize their feedback to make overall experiences better.

Famulari: Quality of food and customer service; in my opinion, these two factors are key to any restaurants success.

Back to Pizza Competition: A roundtable talk on philosophy, standing out, and competitive analysis