Author Topic: the demise of the small artisan shops around our land?  (Read 5436 times)

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Offline Aimless Ryan

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Re: the demise of the small artisan shops around our land?
« Reply #20 on: October 31, 2013, 11:54:44 PM »
sorry...but, IF I READ THIS RIGHT, i disagree....artisan shops are NOW at their most prominent.  I may not last long...but there are MORE artisan shops open now that ever that I could remember...and that has to do with NEAPOLITAN STYLE and the rise in PIZZA in general.  10 years ago, there were FAR less single owner, high end ARTISAN pizza places.  Now, this might not last long....and thats my guess.....but there WILL be several places, exceptional places than establish a foothold in the food service business....but a TON more will shut there doors.


Again, I hope I read this right.

I haven't read much past what I'm responding to, so someone may have already said this (or something like it).

"Artisan" is now at its most prominent because it's a popular marketing word; because wood-fired and coal-fired ovens are now much more widely available than they have ever been. I would not even consider buying a pizza from a place that calls itself "artisan" pizza, especially in Columbus, because "artisan" to me is (at best) the same thing I was making 10 or 12 years ago, but baked in a fancy oven by someone who doesn't know how to use the oven. (If you paid good money today for the pizza I was making 10 or 12 years ago, I'd call you a chump.)

In response to some stuff Walter said: Columbus pizza is Donatos, Massey's, Tommy's, Iacono's, Joseppi's, and maybe some others I don't know of. Pizza in Columbus is sheeted, party cut, possibly laminated, usually with a heavily concentrated tomato product and provolone cheese. If you grew up in Columbus or central Ohio (like me), that's what you grew up knowing as pizza, in addition to the big 3/4. Some of that stuff isn't bad, and some of it could be great with a little work, but it'll never be comparable to what Walter grew up with, nor what he makes (which I've had).


Online waltertore

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Re: the demise of the small artisan shops around our land?
« Reply #21 on: November 01, 2013, 10:37:39 AM »
Thanks for the compliment on the pies Ryan.  I really don't understand why good ny style pizza is so hard to find.  Walter

Offline Aimless Ryan

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Re: the demise of the small artisan shops around our land?
« Reply #22 on: November 01, 2013, 11:36:20 PM »
I really don't understand why good ny style pizza is so hard to find.

I kinda do, in the Columbus context, but I kinda don't.

I remember going to a NY style place in the food court at the original Lane Avenue Shopping Center when I was a kid, and I loved it. I really loved it. It was so much different (and perhaps better) than anything you could get around here. It was akin to Sbarro, I suppose. And I wouldn't say Sbarro is anything special, but at least Sbarro does resemble the experience of many NY style pizzerias, in ways. Especially compared to almost anything else you can get in Columbus.

Point is, I loved the stuff they sold at the Lane Avenue Shopping Center. I had no experience or insight with either New York or NY style, but I loved that stuff. I loved the idea of selling it by the slice, too. In my mind it just worked. It seemed so right; so convenient. I really don't understand why more places like that haven't sprung up around here over the last 30 years. Maybe the demand is there but there just hasn't been anyone who can supply it. Maybe that's why you and I are here. I really don't know.

I'd say by the time pizza found its way this far west from New York and New Jersey (early 1950s maybe? 1940s?), every new little step west created little changes in what actually constituted pizza. Y'know, even the pizza you can get in New York has evolved quite a bit over the last hundred years, or even the last twenty years. Heck, the last two times I've been to NYC (mostly Manhattan, in 2010, then 2011), the pizza landscape changed dramatically.

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Re: the demise of the small artisan shops around our land?
« Reply #23 on: November 02, 2013, 10:37:58 AM »
Ryan:  Thanks for that history lesson of Columbus pizza.  I have yet to have a slice in Columbus.  I have walked in many a shop but watching the process didn't excite me.  Here in the Newark area I have tried 2 places and both were terribly disapointing.  I walked in an old house converted to a pizzeria in Newark a few weeks ago.  I got real excited.  It looked like a NJ mom and pop place where the family lived in the back/upstairs.  I was greeted by an interior that looked great-hadn't been touched in probably 30 years or more.  The husband/wife were very nice and I told them I was a NJ native/pizza maker.  Then I saw the dough sheeter and blackend pizza pans.   I got to talking to the owner and he showed me his dough. It was in a full sheet pan as 1 lump. It looked to be of very low hydration and more like a sourdough biga consistency than a pizza dough.  He tore off pieces, sheeted them, put them on a pizza pan, cut the dough to fit the pan (like you do with an apple pie crust) poured some sauce on it that looked like canned Ragu and then topped it with tiny  diced/cubed cheese that was put on extremely heavy.  Then they went in a low btu vintage blodgett deck oven.  I told him I was allergic to wheat and just came in to see how things were done and bring back memories.  I didn' want to offend him because he was a nice guy.   What you say about NY pies changing is true.  I am at the point of not eating any, unknown to me, pizza back home unless I can watch it being made.  Over the past 10 years of going home once or twice a year I have been dissapointed every time with unknown pizzerias.   Wood fired pizza I respect but it doesn't grab me.  It seem most places back home are going that route that are getting the big raves.  Old deck oven is getting bumped.  Walter
« Last Edit: November 02, 2013, 02:20:14 PM by waltertore »

Offline gabaghool

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Re: the demise of the small artisan shops around our land?
« Reply #24 on: November 07, 2013, 09:57:04 AM »
the main reason, i think, for while slice places haven't proliferated is that location is even more important than for other restaurants.  Selling a lot of slices depends on foot traffic.  Even if you locate on a busy road, slices don't sell.......every place that depended on slices , that Ive seen, is located on a street with lots of foot traffic.  You could have a road with 75,000 cars a day.....no walkers, no sales....(of slices that is)

Offline Aimless Ryan

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Re: the demise of the small artisan shops around our land?
« Reply #25 on: November 07, 2013, 02:33:33 PM »
the main reason, i think, for while slice places haven't proliferated is that location is even more important than for other restaurants.  Selling a lot of slices depends on foot traffic.  Even if you locate on a busy road, slices don't sell.......every place that depended on slices , that Ive seen, is located on a street with lots of foot traffic.  You could have a road with 75,000 cars a day.....no walkers, no sales....(of slices that is)

Foot traffic and/or general convenience to labor centers.

I think the term 'foot traffic' can also be modified specifically to include places where you don't or can't just easily get in your car and drive less than a quarter of a mile for lunch (out of either convenience or laziness). In NYC, foot traffic, labor centers, and the innate inability to travel more than a quarter of a mile independently and quickly are characteristics that all exist in just about every area or neighborhood, so slice joints work beautifully there. Good pizza, particularly slice joints, is part of the culture, too. And if you live there but you're not originally part of the NYC culture, you quickly become part of it because you have to.

In areas like central Ohio (Columbus), the only places you'll really find much foot traffic are malls or downtown. What do you also find at almost every mall? Sbarro. And downtown Columbus rolls up the sidewalks at 6:00, except for the Arena District (sometimes), which I think is mostly a ghost town except when there is something going on at the arena (or Huntington Park during baseball season). And Nationwide Arena will never be anywhere near as busy as Madison Square Garden or the Staples Center (2 NBA teams, 1 NHL team, Grammy awards, concerts and often multiple concert dates for individual artists, special events, etc).

There aren't really any neighborhoods in Columbus (or most cities) that contain: 1) Labor centers, 2) Foot traffic, 3) Dense residential living, 4) Sports/entertainment/nightlife centers, AND 5) Tourism centers. To survive as primarily a slice joint in any city, you'd probably need to be in a location that contains at least three of those five things.

Here are some of the things you might have to deal with if you open a slice joint in the types of neighborhoods that make up Columbus: If you open a slice joint in downtown Columbus, you'll have to close at 6. If you open a slice joint in the Arena District, you'll have to hope you can sell hundreds of slices in the hour or two before every hockey game, concert, and baseball game. (Even though the Arena District is in downtown, it's not convenient to the labor center of downtown, so there is probably no lunch business in the Arena district.) If you open a slice joint in the suburbs (which is pretty much all of metro Columbus), you're just dumb.

So that leaves areas like maybe Georgesville Road & I-270; first of all because there is a reasonably large labor force in the area, like the people who work at the Hatfield Auto Mall (where I used to work), some industrial stuff, the Columbus Dispatch, shopping center workers, and restaurant workers. That's a good chunk of your lunch crowd, which Donatos mostly doesn't (and can't) serve. Then, after work lets out, there is a ton of traffic, consisting of people coming home from their jobs in downtown and other areas; going to different areas occupying land between Grove City and the far west/southwest side of Columbus. In a location like this, slices can be sold at lunch and offered at dinnertime. However, there probably wouldn't be much demand for slices at dinnertime because dinnertime is for a whole different demographic, at least in this area: families and locals.

Good pizza by the slice simply is not part of the culture of Columbus, and it pretty much can't be. It can be fit in, though, under the right circumstances.

I'd imagine this is similar to how it might work in a lot of other cities, because mostly in this country there is no place like New York (and because I have traveled extensively around the United States, and I've paid attention to stuff like this). Also, Columbus has always been test-market central because Columbus is the most average city in the United States (or something like that).
« Last Edit: November 07, 2013, 02:35:04 PM by Aimless Ryan »

Online waltertore

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Re: the demise of the small artisan shops around our land?
« Reply #26 on: November 07, 2013, 05:26:17 PM »
I am of a different configuration than most that want to run a pizzeria and  in approach to life in general.  I will open a pizzeria when I retire and not be dependent on making a living off it.  I want to do it for the art and to employ a few disabled adults to do prep, cleaning.  It will be just me, my wife, and the 1-2 employees, in a a 5-10 table room with the pizzas made in plain view of the customers.  This is the type of shop I grew up with back in NJ.  My 2 blodgett 1000 ovens will double as pizza/bread ovens.  I will sell italian bread- plain and semolina baguettes.  If I make 50 pies a day I would be more than satified.  I don't rush.  If people are in a hurry they wouldn't come to my shop.   We sell pizza with love, offer a space for people to relate to each other, and I will make each pie.  Love can't be rushed and a place where one can have meaningful conversation in a loving environment makes waiting a pleasure.  I spent an afternoon with Anthony of Una Pizza this summer talking about the drive to  have to do it.  I been driven my entire life to do things.  Money, fame, famon, mean nothing, just the need to do it.  We had a great conversation on the lonliness of this road.  Most people are not driven to things but instead do things for money.  I would rather be poor being driven to do something than doing something that I wasn't driven to do and be well to do.   I am not at all inspired by the ninja speed I see at most shops.  It hits me as uptight and not a loving groove.   Money is not a big thing to me.  I live for the experience and enjoy chatting with customers as I work.  I do this same model right now in my Smiling With Hope Bakery at Newark High School.  The vibe is one of welcoming and informal.   I run it like if there was a pizzeria in Andy Griffith's  Mayberry.  We live very simple and this allows for endeavors like this.  I figure I only got 1 time around here and money don't do squat for me compared to a nice conversation, a smile, and helping ones that are less fortunate.   I will charge top dollar, be open only 3-4 days a week from lunch to just past diner time.  All my life people have told me my ideas of how to do music and teaching were doomed from the start.  I was able to do a way of music full time for 20 years and continue it today with an approach  that defies the standards of the music industry and now do the same with our commercial bakery/pizzeria and the public education system.  I simply follow my heart and it guides me to better places with each new adventure.   Walter
« Last Edit: November 07, 2013, 07:16:27 PM by waltertore »

Offline Aimless Ryan

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Re: the demise of the small artisan shops around our land?
« Reply #27 on: November 07, 2013, 08:35:21 PM »
The happiest I've ever been was when I had nothing. (I still have nothing, but it kinda sucks now.) If I ever have something, like, say, a pizzeria, my first priority as a business owner will be to make sure I do what I have to do to stay alive, by providing both a product and service for which supply is dwarfed by demand. As someone who doesn't have savings or retirement income, it would be pretty stupid for me to approach it any other way. However, unlike many (or most) people in similar situations, I wouldn't be obsessed with making money. Still, I'm sure I would make good money, precisely because I'm not obsessed with making money. A couple of my primary objectives would be: 1) to make people happy by serving them great food with great service, and 2) to provide a handful of decent jobs to individuals who would like to make people happy by serving them great food with great service and be paid well for it and be treated with respect by their boss (which is unlike any job I've ever had). Prospective customers tend to like that kind of setup, too.

Offline Tscarborough

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Re: the demise of the small artisan shops around our land?
« Reply #28 on: November 09, 2013, 06:21:40 PM »
Respect is a mirror, Ryan.