Author Topic: Re: Searching for the Right Pizzeria Location and Business (Split Topic)  (Read 338 times)

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Offline waltertore

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Mi

Also, just to clarify, when I mentioned not wanting the competition in NJ, it was in the context of a fairly distant future.  When I open shop, in 5 years or so, I wouldn't want a local Williamsburg site.  Don't get me wrong, my life's mission is to see truly great NY style pizza return to this area, and having a place like Williamsburg in Manhattan and Brooklyn makes me ecstatic, but, as an aspiring pizzeria owner, I wouldn't want to open next door to one :)

Scott:  I didn't know you are planning on opening a shop.  Can you tell me what your setup will be like?   I will definetely come by your place when I am back in NJ!  I too hope to open a place as soon as it arrives in my universe.  For now my set up is good but I have learned in my years in education that all this can change real fast.  I live spontaneously and as of right now own enough equipment and knowledge to open but am in no hurry to close what I have going as long as I am allowed to continue as is.  I never see myself  in the NYC/NJ/northeast areas because rents and houses cost too much.  I can't imagine my vision even breaking even there.  I have learned out here in OH I could charge $12 for an 18" cheese and $14 with pep and basically $2 per topping.   It will be an old school small shop. Seating will be very limited as will the topping choices, 1 size pie, and not a very large production number per day.  I will make all the dough, ball, and  pies myself unless the shop ends up here in OH and I can hire Paige.  My wife will run the register and do the books.  She is from the Bay area and gets overheated when the temp goes above 70 degrees.  She will have to have a small fan going on her all day(that should add some old school vibe too :) )  I will hire 1 or 2 disabled people for basic prep and  clean up.  Money will not be my driving force.  I can get a 1,000 sq ft shop out here for a grand a month in a hip area and basically for nothing in an area the hipsters will have to drive to.   I have been amazed at how much a crap pizza ends up costing you out here.  Good pizza, good artisan bread (maybe will do this) will be about it.  No alcohol just water and soda.  I will also only be open 3-4 days a week from like noon to 7pm.  Call ahead (no internet ordering for me) orders will be encouraged(days in advance even more so).  I figure I can leisurely make 10 pies an hour.  That will allow me time to mingle, listen to my sinatra on the stereo, and smile alot.  It will net me more than enough money to make it work for us and pay my help well.  I will be on full retirement pension and wouldn't even need a salary if need be.  To employ a couple disabled people and make good pizza is more than enough for me.  My 1 thing I will need is enough kitchen space to be able to do 2 day refrigerated dough.  Walter
« Last Edit: December 20, 2013, 08:58:29 PM by Pete-zza »


scott123

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Re: Re: Searching for the Right Pizzeria Location and Business (Split Topic)
« Reply #1 on: December 10, 2013, 10:59:08 AM »
Walter, my vision is not that dissimilar to yours.  One size pizza (to this day, I can't understand why someone would opt for a small pizza when slices are available), a small place, old school feel, minimal topping choices.  I don't expect to have a great deal of capital, so I'll probably have a certain amount of investor input, and I'll most likely end up taking over an existing failing pizzeria, so, from that perspective, my vision might have to bend a bit. At least, cosmetically. Perhaps when I open a second location, I might pay a bit more attention to aesthetics, but, for the foreseeable future, I don't really care where I'm making the pizza, as long as it's my pizza.

The money will be important for me, though.  I will most likely be charging a bit less than my competitors, but, at the same time, I want to sell enough pies a day to make a healthy profit.

Offline waltertore

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Re: Re: Searching for the Right Pizzeria Location and Business (Split Topic)
« Reply #2 on: December 10, 2013, 01:23:57 PM »
Walter, my vision is not that dissimilar to yours.  One size pizza (to this day, I can't understand why someone would opt for a small pizza when slices are available), a small place, old school feel, minimal topping choices.  I don't expect to have a great deal of capital, so I'll probably have a certain amount of investor input, and I'll most likely end up taking over an existing failing pizzeria, so, from that perspective, my vision might have to bend a bit. At least, cosmetically. Perhaps when I open a second location, I might pay a bit more attention to aesthetics, but, for the foreseeable future, I don't really care where I'm making the pizza, as long as it's my pizza.

The money will be important for me, though.  I will most likely be charging a bit less than my competitors, but, at the same time, I want to sell enough pies a day to make a healthy profit.

Sounds good Scott!  I tell you out here you can rent a place for nothing and the prices are in line or more than back home for the non chain shops.  This shocks me.  I hve been surfing the prices for pies around here.  No one makes an 18" pie(I see I made a typo in my first post-too late to correct) that I know of and I could sell mine for what they charge for 14" pies in  many cases. I wnat to make money as well and I figure 50 pizzas a day or so will easily get me there.  I have most every piece of equipment now except the cooler and prep table.  Walter
« Last Edit: December 10, 2013, 01:32:45 PM by waltertore »

scott123

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Re: Re: Searching for the Right Pizzeria Location and Business (Split Topic)
« Reply #3 on: December 10, 2013, 01:37:35 PM »
I wnat to make money as well and I figure 50 pizzas a day or so will easily get me there.

Walter, even if you've got a lot of chain shops in your area, and people there are conditioned towards that sort of thing, if you've got a storefront, you'll do 50 pizzas a day without any issue.

How many pies a day are you averaging now? 15? 20?  If you can do 15 pies a day buried in a high school, 50 in a storefront will be a piece of cake.
« Last Edit: December 10, 2013, 01:41:54 PM by scott123 »

Offline waltertore

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Re: Re: Searching for the Right Pizzeria Location and Business (Split Topic)
« Reply #4 on: December 10, 2013, 02:32:05 PM »
Walter, even if you've got a lot of chain shops in your area, and people there are conditioned towards that sort of thing, if you've got a storefront, you'll do 50 pizzas a day without any issue.

How many pies a day are you averaging now? 15? 20?  If you can do 15ish pies a day buried in a high school, 50 in a storefront will be a piece of cake.

Scott:  We do 15-40 a day.  40 is a rare day, 20 a fairly busy day, and 15 a regular day.  Seeing we are making hundreds of bagels/cookies/breads/baked goods/fire drills/lockdowns/administrators calling me out of the room/kids messing up/and all the other stuff a special education teacher does, I agree 50 a day sounds like a relaxing time.  Granville HS has a year round greenhouse.  They are growing organic basil for us in exchange for pizza and they also have a farm for the agriculture progam.  So in the future I forsee them growing tomatoes for us.  There is also an ever growing artisan farm movement here.  I now get 100% organic whole wheat flour via this and forsee having tomatoes and cheese made for me at some point.  This place is like the wild west once was.  The failure of factories and Detroit has devesated this part of the country but the upside is guys like me and the artisan growers and such can buy land, buildings, etc, for next to nothing.  The last real bakery in Newark closed a couple years ago. In its day it was a 30 employee on 24 hour shifts.  Their main mixer was like 180 qt.  The family got old, the kids moved away, and it was leased out to various "bakers" in recent years.  they all failed miserabley.   The entire bakery, including the building(3 floor brick turn of the century 8,000sqft) and contents sold for 30k.  I know 1 pizzeria owner who has not paid rent on his building for over 5 years and still is operating. That gives you an idea of how much creativity one can have here.  Slowly things are coming around and a solid real deal place can get by here a million times easier than back home.  Walter

PS: Some photos and a story of reilys bakery. I bought some cool old turn of the century baking tools from the new owners.  they are going to renovate it and have an business(non food) on the main floor and apts upstairs.


http://www.newarkadvocate.com/article/20120706/NEWS01/207060314/

https://www.google.com/search?q=riley's+bakery+newark+ohio&rls=com.microsoft:en-us:IE-Address&rlz=1I7TSHB&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=umynUqfiHtHMkQeT-4DoCA&ved=0CAkQ_AUoAQ&biw=1008&bih=609
« Last Edit: December 10, 2013, 02:39:05 PM by waltertore »

Offline gabaghool

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Re: Re: Searching for the Right Pizzeria Location and Business (Split Topic)
« Reply #5 on: December 20, 2013, 12:07:36 PM »
Walter, my vision is not that dissimilar to yours.  One size pizza (to this day, I can't understand why someone would opt for a small pizza when slices are available), a small place, old school feel, minimal topping choices.  I don't expect to have a great deal of capital, so I'll probably have a certain amount of investor input, and I'll most likely end up taking over an existing failing pizzeria, so, from that perspective, my vision might have to bend a bit. At least, cosmetically. Perhaps when I open a second location, I might pay a bit more attention to aesthetics, but, for the foreseeable future, I don't really care where I'm making the pizza, as long as it's my pizza.

The money will be important for me, though.  I will most likely be charging a bit less than my competitors, but, at the same time, I want to sell enough pies a day to make a healthy profit.

Scott......in this economy, i can not understand for the life of me, unless you are well funded, why ANYONE would build out a box.  You can LITERALLY pick up a closed pizza place....with most or all of the equipment, many times NEWER equipment, for no more than about 10% of the original cost.  In otherwords, if a guy put together a pizzeria for 150K, on a buildout.....closes his doors........it probably be had for around 15K.   They will bitch and moan, but, at this point they are only selling used equipment......the door is closed, he no longer has a business.   

Now, this price can go up or down, depending on location and lease......but usually the old owner will owe so much money to venders, equipment dealers and especially the landlord, that they are looking to just close the chapter on their pizza lives.  Sometimes you deal only with the landlord who had taken possesion of the equipment , if its paid for, and for the right guy, would even let you pay the 10 % over time....or even GIVE the equipment to who he considers a good, reliable tenant.  He just wants his rent.

I bought a closed Pizzeria uno.....that was 10 years old, that cost them over a million dollars to outfit, for 15K.  Its really amazing....ALWAYS looked for closed, equipped places first....imo.   But, of coarse, there are always exceptions.

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Re: Re: Searching for the Right Pizzeria Location and Business (Split Topic)
« Reply #6 on: December 20, 2013, 12:38:48 PM »
Nick, thanks, that's helpful information.  When I've looked at closed places locally, they've been in the 30Kish realm, but I didn't spend a huge amount of time looking, and probably could come up with 15K.

So, is this closed Pizzeria Uno you bought something new or are you talking about a past purchase?

Offline Aimless Ryan

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Re: Re: Searching for the Right Pizzeria Location and Business (Split Topic)
« Reply #7 on: December 20, 2013, 12:42:21 PM »
You can LITERALLY pick up a closed pizza place....with most or all of the equipment, many times NEWER equipment, for no more than about 10% of the original cost.

Yeah, but the space holding all the cheap equipment usually also comes with a horrible reputation that'll cost a lot of time and money to reverse. The previous owner didn't close because he or she wanted to close.

Offline gabaghool

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Re: Re: Searching for the Right Pizzeria Location and Business (Split Topic)
« Reply #8 on: December 20, 2013, 12:45:55 PM »
No, its a past purchase.  The lease was also 15K a month.....but, because of the economy, got it for 5K a month....that is a big drop.  ANd thats also Connecticut.  Also...if they are asking for 30K......15 is absolutely doable....especially if the doors are closed.....even less.  If the doors are still opened, he is losing money...don't believe anything else.  VERY very rarely is is really health reasons.  Also, keep an eye on it, cause if they are selling a pizzeria that is still opened, MOST times, they will eventually close and then the starting price drops immensely.

Right now, we are negotiating on a great location, closed and NO key money at all.  Its not loaded with equipment, but anytime you can get in with no money, its worth looking at.  The only issue is that because of the location, the rent is high.

Offline gabaghool

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Re: Re: Searching for the Right Pizzeria Location and Business (Split Topic)
« Reply #9 on: December 20, 2013, 12:48:37 PM »
Yeah Ryan, its true....but I can't imagine anyone keeping the name.  As soon as a new sign goes up, that rep is gone.  I have a place that had 4 restaurants in it in 3 years.  I took it over, changed the concept, the name, the decor (really just fresh paint and all) and we've been open since 1989.......

I should  have clarified that.....if you do take over a closed place.......you GOTTA give em something new.  Youre right.


Offline akuban

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Re: Re: Searching for the Right Pizzeria Location and Business (Split Topic)
« Reply #10 on: December 20, 2013, 12:58:28 PM »
gabaghoool: Thanks for the great advice. This is what I'm exploring as well. What Ryan says is what I worry about though, especially if it's a former pizzeria. There are some spaces that just seem to be cursed. For Scott, there is no doubt he would be giving them something new and spectacular. WE know that, but he would have to convey it. I would worry about that, especially if he were to take over a failed NYC/NJ-style slice joint. To the average consumer, a New York-style slice joint is a New York-style slice joint. Having been a consumer for a while now, I am pretty cynical about "New Ownership!" or "Under New Management!" signage.

gabaghool, you are lucky because I'm assuming your concept is noticeably different from the failed Uno's you took over. I personally wouldn't mind finding a space that housed a restaurant but not a pizzeria. I am fine with dropping in my own oven(s) and mixer, which likely, given what I want to do, I would have to rip out old oven/mixer anyway.
¡Hasta la pizza!

Offline gabaghool

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Re: Re: Searching for the Right Pizzeria Location and Business (Split Topic)
« Reply #11 on: December 20, 2013, 01:07:20 PM »
Your Welcome Adam

I gotta say,,,NYC is a very, very special case.  There are many advantages to being there, Im sure, but I also positive that are many hurdles unique to NYC.   The idea of my opening there is TERRIFYING......youre DEFINATELY in the big leagues there.  And listen, I totally  understand.  What is pretty much a rule in connecticut would probably be a mere SUGGESTION in the city. 

My son goes to Columbia.....and he LOOVES to eat out.   So, perfect match.  Great school, great food, great city.  Again, I wouldn't worry too much about what kind of closed place it is, simply that its closed.  I mean you SAVE SOOOOOO MUCH MONEY.....its really unbelievable.  And Im like you, i don't trust those "under new management" signs either.  Thats usually an attempt to erase a bad rep...the "new manager" is maybe another cousin or some such..but all the same things going on.

Thanks!

Offline Aimless Ryan

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Re: Re: Searching for the Right Pizzeria Location and Business (Split Topic)
« Reply #12 on: December 20, 2013, 01:54:58 PM »
Yeah Ryan, its true....but I can't imagine anyone keeping the name.  As soon as a new sign goes up, that rep is gone.  I have a place that had 4 restaurants in it in 3 years.  I took it over, changed the concept, the name, the decor (really just fresh paint and all) and we've been open since 1989.......

I should  have clarified that.....if you do take over a closed place.......you GOTTA give em something new.  Youre right.

Yeah, you'd definitely be stupid to keep the name, in most circumstances. I think some of the points you made may be a little different in Connecticut than in central Ohio, due to the pizza market being so much different between the two places. In central Ohio, there are very few memorable pizzerias (or none). So whenever a place closes and a new owner changes the name, prospective customers are not necessarily likely to even notice. All they really know is that that place over on "Street Name" is horrible. If you buy that place, you're still "that place" until you successfully make people realize you're not that place. That takes a lot of work, and most people can't do it, which has been proven over and over by the people who tried.

So it's not the name of the place that holds the bad reputation; it's usually the location of the place that holds on to a bad reputation, even if the pizza joint doesn't deserve such a reputation. Around here, anyway.

Regardless of whether someone thinks they may be able to turn around a failing pizzeria, the only evidence that matters is the numbers that already exist. You (gabaghool) obviously can turn around a location that once had a bad reputation, and I feel confident that I'd be able to do the same thing, but the numbers for places like this tell me they should pay me to take over their failed business, as well as the equipment that they cannot sell without also selling the failed business, which is not worth money even if they have the best equipment available.

Most independent pizzerias around here are "for sale." Not because the owner is making money, but specifically because the owner is not making money and needs out. That's the pizza culture around here, which is probably why I don't bother trying to remember if any particular pizza joint is same pizza joint as last time I drove by. I'm not sure if that's how other central Ohioans see it, but I know it's a good bargaining point to any seller whose desire to stop losing money is bigger than their ego.

Offline Aimless Ryan

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Re: Re: Searching for the Right Pizzeria Location and Business (Split Topic)
« Reply #13 on: December 20, 2013, 02:01:00 PM »
Having been a consumer for a while now, I am pretty cynical about "New Ownership!" or "Under New Management!" signage.
That's the sign of yet another clueless owner. I would never go into one of those places. You might enjoy this blog post I wrote about stuff like this, Adam: http://ryanspizzablog.blogspot.com/2012/09/red-flags-for-pizza-consumers.html.

Offline akuban

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Re: Re: Searching for the Right Pizzeria Location and Business (Split Topic)
« Reply #14 on: December 20, 2013, 03:18:04 PM »
Aimless Ryan ... THANKS! I loved that post. Also wish I would have seen your blog earlier. My head has been elsewhere than the online pizza world the last 17 months.
¡Hasta la pizza!

Offline Aimless Ryan

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Re: Re: Searching for the Right Pizzeria Location and Business (Split Topic)
« Reply #15 on: December 20, 2013, 07:00:19 PM »
Thanks Adam. Pretty much no one knows about my blog. It used to bug me because I think it's an extremely helpful blog, but I've learned how to become more apathetic over the last year or so.

Quote
...but what I think the pizzeria is trying to convey is that the dough is made in the pizzeria and not trucked in from somewhere frozen [when they use marketing materials to inform prospective customers that their "dough is made fresh daily"].

I have looked at it that way many times myself, but I've looked at it a lot more from the perspective of a knowledgeable prospective customer and from the perspective of an owner who wants prospective customers to seriously think about the message we send them and why Ryan's Imaginary Pizzeria might provide them a more enjoyable experience than the experience they can get from the pizza joint across the street. And if the most important message a pizzeria wants me to receive is that they make their dough on the premises, just like almost every other pizza joint on the planet, I'm not impressed.

Instead of telling prospective customers that our dough is made fresh daily, I'd tell them our dough isn't made fresh daily (or at least the same day we use it). Then I'd tell them why we don't use dough the same day we mix it, as well as why our way is better than using dough that was made today.

As I said earlier (to gabaghool), the central Ohio market is a totally different world than the market you know. I'd be like a deer in headlights if I tried to open a pizzeria in NYC, but I think if I could open one here I'd blow away the competition; partly because I wouldn't use the same tired marketing lines like "Dough made fresh daily." People here need to be educated about pizza, especially if you're trying to sell them something that really is good stuff like a good NY style slice. People in NYC don't need to be educated.

I know I'm totally off-topic here. Sorry.

Offline waltertore

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Re: Re: Searching for the Right Pizzeria Location and Business (Split Topic)
« Reply #16 on: December 20, 2013, 08:35:17 PM »
For me it is all about ones energy/mojo/vibe.  If you come in with it you can turn anyplace into a happening place.  IMO most people come to things too deep in fear instead of joy.  Fear dooms things from the start. It attracts all kinds of bad energy and is a self fullfing prophecy.  That is why most people live such unadventourous lives in the sense that they don't blindly follow their dreams.   I have been wired with a backwards brain.  I got lots of joy and little fear.  People have covered their eyes so to speak as they have watched me do my life.  They care about me and are trying to watch out for me but I feel they are just showing their fears.  Nothing can fail if one is full of joy.  Spit out your fears, let them go, and get back on the joy.  Failure is nothing but part of the process of discovery and joy but our culture fears failure like death.  We are programed not to fail.  That is sad to me.  People often ask me in educational circles how I have pulled off this bakery/pizza thing in a time when such endeavors are impossible to do supposidly.  I simply answer I see it all and I walk to it with such joy and excitement that  it has to happen.  I have live my life this way and it only gets better and better the more I blindly follow my heart.  I have had my rough days but the vision, joy, and excitement, never leave for very long because the alternative is fear and life is way too short to live in fear.  Money?  Screw it.  That is the least, most simple, insignificant, part of a vision turning to reality.  It is one's spirit, vibe, mojo.  When I was doing music people thought I was nuts because I turned down things like playing on the soundtrack for the movie The Color of Money.  That would have been with Eric Clapton and Robbie Robertson.  Why did I say no>  I said no because rehearsing and repeating, and scripting out music is of no interest to me.  I would rather bag groceries at walmart.  At least then  I would have some spontaneous encounters with customers.  I have been offered several jobs since I started this bakery that would pay me a lot more money and all I would be doing would be making pizzas/breads.  I said no because it doesn't interest me more than working with disabled people in the context I am now in.  I get to work with 15 kids a day and a few regular eduacation students that are bright, sad, juvenille offenders, impoverished.  None of those jobs would allow me to continue working with so many kids.  I could care less if I get famous in music, pizza, or breads.  That means nothing.  What means is having a passion, a need to do something, vision that has to be done.  I connected deeply with Anthony of Una Pizza on this subject.  It is a lonely road but the need to do something overides that negative.   Dream big.  I often reflect on a Helen Keller quote my wife gave me about 30 years ago when I was in a down moment with my concept of how to do music and the battle I was in with the music industry to accept it.  It went-"life is a daring adventure or nothing at all."  Hell, all we have left is to die so why not do some real living till then.  Walter

PS:  I am off for the next 2 weeks.  Today was an exteremly busy day, probably our busiest to date.  I had trouble not getting sad.  My students will do most likely nothing but sit around their  houses bored and sad.  I feel that inside and wish we could run year round.  I don't need vacations or retirement.  I have seen the world, had my fun so to speak.  My days are limited on this earth and I want to use them helping the disabled have meaningful lives.  My next level dream is to buy a small apt building or a few condos and house my  employees.  This will happen when I retire from the schools and open my own shop.  As adults my students end up living in group homes in the worst part of towns.  Crime, fear, poverty, is the norm.  My living spaces will be in an upscale town within a short walk to the shop.  They can live their lives in safety and in happy vibes.   I can't rush this dream.  It is on its own time and I have to do my best work till it arrives. 
« Last Edit: December 20, 2013, 09:19:37 PM by waltertore »


 

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