July 1, 2018 |

Conversation: Jim Zimmerline, Zipps, Adair IA

By Denise Greer

Jim Zimmerline, Zipp's Pizzaria, Adair, Iowa, Q&A

Jim and Tammy Zimmerline opened Zipp’s in 2012. The small-town pizzeria has
become a big hit in Iowa.


Zipp’s Pizzaria
Adair, Iowa

We make everything ourselves (crust, three kinds of raw sausage, sliced provolone cheese, homemade sauce and more). Homemade pizza with fresh ingredients cooked in a stone deck oven; it is thin crust to a point, not cracker style though.

Zipp’s reputation as a hidden gem –– We do offer something out here that not really anyone else does. We are located out in the sticks, if you will, in a town of 800. No big towns closer than about 25 minutes, so people have to drive a ways to come eat. People DO drive an hour or two to eat here. Our little main street out in front always has counties other than Adair and Guthrie parked out front. I think that speaks about our products we serve and makes us stay on top of our game. Yes, we screw up more than we need to, though. I think being consistent with the product you serve makes a big deal with customers coming back time and again. It is nice to have people think of you as a great place to eat and be a destination for them to eat and bring new friends time after time.

Small market challenges  Help, but I think that is everywhere anymore, big towns or little towns. But we just do not have the population to draw from for help. So we beg and plead, even if we can find someone to work only one night a week. It helps. We just consolidated with another school and that took our high school to another town. That took the home games away and we used to get a lot traffic with the school three miles away on game night. But with that, so many people in other towns are going to games and passing by so they make it a must stop when they travel. No grocery store hurts some days when you run out of something, so you have to plan ahead and make sure you don’t (run out), and you really should not anyway. Weather is a big factor. There are just not enough people to support a small pizzeria night in and night out. So people drive and when the weather is bad, we are not busy. It is more the winter month problems than the summer months.

We do not usually advertise in newspapers or radio, so Facebook really does wonders — and we have a pretty big following on there. Word of mouth really is where it is at. I figured that if my food is not good enough for someone else to tell a friend and other people, maybe I should not be open. Mediocrity is not an option, although you are not gonna be everyone’s favorite nor will everyone think your pizza is even good. So with that philosophy, we have to be on top of our game with a great product and great service night in and night out.

Owners being present and talking with customers is a big plus. My wife, Tammy, does great at that as I am usually in the kitchen. Being voted the best pizza in Iowa in a March of 2016 contest through Iowa tourism helped a lot. We already had built up a big following, but that put it over the top after only being open four years at that point. I wanted to just be a normal pizza place offering sausage and pepperoni and the like, but if we did not offer 20 some specialty pizzas nightly, I do not think we would be where we are.