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Author Topic: Looking to open up a small NY style pizzeria and need suggestions/advice  (Read 3013 times)

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Offline JS7560

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Hi All,

First of all, thank you in advance for all your help. I'm looking to open a very very small pizzeria that has extremely low rent/payroll and is vast majority pickup and delivery, just a few tables so customers can order at the counter and sit down. My question is, can you compete/survive with limited items compared to all the dishes and specialties offered by other pizzerias? My sample menu is below:

Apps

Buffalo Wings
Fried Calamari
Mozz. Sticks
Chicken Tenders
French Fries
Garlic Knots
Garlic Bread

Salads
House Salad
Caesar Salad
Greek Salad

Pizza, both regular and specialty pies offered in personal (12") and large (16")

Calzones (possibly rolls as well)

Chicken Parm Hero (Maybe also offer in entree with pasta)
Eggplant Parm Hero (Maybe also offer in entree with pasta)
Meatball Parm Hero
Maybe some combination of chicken cutlet/eggplant with fresh mozz, roasted red peppers, balsamic vin. Heros

Pastas
Choice of pasta with Marinara offered in small and large size
Penne Ala Vodka (or substitute different type of pasta such as rigatoni)

Bottled and Canned beverages

Basically, I want the simplest and most popular items that I/people love from a pizzeria. Does anyone think this is a sustainable business model? My idea is that by keeping it simple, you can focus all your energy into making the best of the items you serve, and also reduce the amount of wasted food, but will it be enough to compete with pizzerias that offer everything under the sun? I wonder how much they really sell of certain items. Thanks!

Offline foreplease

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Re: Looking to open up a small NY style pizzeria and need suggestions/advice
« Reply #1 on: December 01, 2020, 02:14:39 PM »
One of my faults is that when people ask what I think I believe they really want to know. I try to be honest and positive. So I'll start with:
-I have never owned a NYC pizzeria and have only visited a few.
-several of the most successful commercial customs here stick to their guns as to what they are and are not
-i would prefer to see you succeed rather than fail


That said, I think you are considering way too many items — like as man as 15 too many — for the size of simple operation you describe. I have read all of your other posts rather than shoot from the hip. I think you are a food enthusiast an aspiring restaurateur. If you have never read Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential I highly recommend it before you go much further. Before risking your family, friendships, most of your free time and a good chunk of whatever your net worth is i think you need some hard experience in a fast moving commercial kitchen.


Please do not take this any of this as a personal attack. I really would like to see you make it.
« Last Edit: December 01, 2020, 02:16:25 PM by foreplease »
-Tony

Offline Andrew Bellucci

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Re: Looking to open up a small NY style pizzeria and need suggestions/advice
« Reply #2 on: December 01, 2020, 03:09:04 PM »
From your description, your place is not that small, and neither is your menu.

My storefront level is 300SF.  That's small. I will have a counter inside and outside, but no seats.

You also have a lot more on your menu than I have.  Yes, I have more varieties in pizza and a lot of different combinations, but it's all about the pizza.  Because that's what I do.  One simple salad.  Two desserts.

I'm not trying to be mean, but I've never been in a serious pizzeria that served french fries.

You know your market and concept.  Certainly, there are pizzerias that make good money that serve french fries and Mexican food and burek. 

But for me, it comes down to one question:  Why should people come into my place?

My answer is: I source the finest ingredients available and use my 27 years of experience to put out a pie that will satisfy my harshest critic: me.

You have to ask yourself:  why should people come into your place? 

I see you're in Brooklyn.  You;re welcome to stop by my place and see how I have things set up.  Always happy to answer any questions...

Edit:  are you doing slices?  Because if you are, then you have to do slices from an 18" pie MINIMAL.  I'm doing slices from a 20" pie. People buying slices look for quality/value.  Even places in the hype machine (F&F & Norm's comes to mind) get KILLED on reviews because they are charging premium prices for a slice off an 18" pie.  L'Industrie (one of my favorite slices) uses an 18" pie and charges $3.  Not only is that appropriate, it makes it great value as well...
« Last Edit: December 01, 2020, 03:27:39 PM by Andrew Bellucci »
Rest In Peace - May 2023

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37-08 30th Avenue
Astoria, New York

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Offline woodfiredandrew

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Re: Looking to open up a small NY style pizzeria and need suggestions/advice
« Reply #3 on: December 01, 2020, 03:20:58 PM »
Hi All,

First of all, thank you in advance for all your help. I'm looking to open a very very small pizzeria that has extremely low rent/payroll and is vast majority pickup and delivery, just a few tables so customers can order at the counter and sit down. My question is, can you compete/survive with limited items compared to all the dishes and specialties offered by other pizzerias? My sample menu is below:

Apps

Buffalo Wings
Fried Calamari
Mozz. Sticks
Chicken Tenders
French Fries
Garlic Knots
Garlic Bread

Salads
House Salad
Caesar Salad
Greek Salad

Pizza, both regular and specialty pies offered in personal (12") and large (16")

Calzones (possibly rolls as well)

Chicken Parm Hero (Maybe also offer in entree with pasta)
Eggplant Parm Hero (Maybe also offer in entree with pasta)
Meatball Parm Hero
Maybe some combination of chicken cutlet/eggplant with fresh mozz, roasted red peppers, balsamic vin. Heros

Pastas
Choice of pasta with Marinara offered in small and large size
Penne Ala Vodka (or substitute different type of pasta such as rigatoni)

Bottled and Canned beverages

Basically, I want the simplest and most popular items that I/people love from a pizzeria. Does anyone think this is a sustainable business model? My idea is that by keeping it simple, you can focus all your energy into making the best of the items you serve, and also reduce the amount of wasted food, but will it be enough to compete with pizzerias that offer everything under the sun? I wonder how much they really sell of certain items. Thanks!

I think you have way too many things on your menu considering you want to open a small shop where you absolutely control everything. Just focus on 4-6 things (mainly pizza offcourse) but knock 'em out of the park.  If you don't come from culinary/cooking background then it absolutely help to get a job in pizzeria to see if your dream meets the reality. i too don't have a culinary background but i spent(i meant worked) time in various pizzerias to get the picture.   
People are unreasonable, illogical and self-centered, love them anyway. If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives, do good anyway. Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable, Be honest and frank anyway. If you are successful , you will win false friends and true enemies, succeed anyway.

Offline corkd

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Re: Looking to open up a small NY style pizzeria and need suggestions/advice
« Reply #4 on: December 01, 2020, 07:14:01 PM »
Seems to me that between members waltertore (smiling with hope pizzeria in Reno) Andrew Bellucci, and Norma,  you can pretty much get all the info you need. They are so generous with their experience and info. Check ‘em out.

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Offline waltertore

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Re: Looking to open up a small NY style pizzeria and need suggestions/advice
« Reply #5 on: December 04, 2020, 06:36:58 PM »
Seems to me that between members waltertore (smiling with hope pizzeria in Reno) Andrew Bellucci, and Norma,  you can pretty much get all the info you need. They are so generous with their experience and info. Check ‘em out.

Thanks.  We are about as stripped down a setup as one can get.  This menu is way over my head of tolerance/interest.  My mother from Italy says "do one thing right and people will come."  Here is our menu.  Walter

http://www.smilingwithhopepizza.com/menu
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Offline AndyBern

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Re: Looking to open up a small NY style pizzeria and need suggestions/advice
« Reply #6 on: December 04, 2020, 11:49:24 PM »
For a small restaurant, simple is the way to go.

I retire as an electronic technician in 4 years, and while I don't intend on going into the pizza business, I have been thinking what it would take to do NY pies out of a food truck... just in case I change my mind. Running a full pizzeria can be a lot of work, and I don't want to take the fun out of my hobby. But if I keep things simple, I may do it. Hence the food truck.

One of the best ways to keep things simple is to have a short menu. If you intend on opening a small pizzeria, it should focus on pizza and maybe its cousins (calzones, garlic knots). If you also sell other things, that will affect your identity as a pizzeria. When I order a pizza, I go to a place that focuses on pizza. I don't go to a place that sells pizza and subs for example.

Online scott r

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Re: Looking to open up a small NY style pizzeria and need suggestions/advice
« Reply #7 on: December 05, 2020, 01:04:20 AM »
I am selling more pizzas than I ever though possible and I am incredibly fortunate to be quite a bit busier than all of my neighboring competition.  What worked for me was pizzas, 3 salads, 3 flavors of wings, and a handful of appetizers. I worked my ass off on every item to make them each the best I could possibly make them and I taste test ingredients nonstop trying to improve.  There is zero hot holding in my restaurant, no bain marie etc.  Everything is cooked to order.  All sauces and dressings are scratch.

Dont underestimate the salad.  It makes up a huge part of my sales and is the easiest thing we do thats not pizza.  I have fries  :-[  But in my defense I started out as a sit down restaurant with a bar and that was the only item on my kids menu (chicken tenders and fries).  I still dont have straight up fries listed on the menu but I get requests for them constantly, and do oblige. Whats funny is that so many adults were ordering chicken fingers and fries as an app with their pizza that I removed the section that said "for the kids" and just put it on as part of my regular menu so adults wouldn't feel bad about ordering kids food.  I felt bad always hearing them say, "im so sorry, but is it ok if we order some chicken fingers and fries even though we aren't kids."  Its not interesting or cool at all, but it was such a hot and lucrative seller for me that I had to learn to embrace it on my menu.  I eventually started offering chili cheese fries because I have always made a mean chili, it was something easy to add onto the menu with a fast ticket time, and im just as proud of it as I am of my pizza ;)  Its now a great seller.

My menu started out much smaller than it is now.. less pizzas, less apps, no vegan menu, and as I found specials that were hot sellers I incorporated them into the menu full time as the kitchen staff got more experience and confidence.  Try to start with the smallest menu that you think you can get away with.  Nobody will care if you just sell pizzas and salads.  Then adjust and see what your customers need/want, and try things that your good at making that are easy on your kitchen staff.  This could be dependent on what is available at other establishments near you, or just local favorites.

I personally don't think pasta and pizza should be on the same menu.  they are too similar to me.  I try to put things on my menu that GO with pizza, but I also respect a sub shop or Italian restaurant that also sells pizza rather than a place like mine where the main focus is specifically on the pizza.  I hope you have tremendous success with your venture, and you are so lucky (as I am) to have this forum to help!!!
« Last Edit: December 05, 2020, 09:17:38 AM by scott r »

Online scott r

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Re: Looking to open up a small NY style pizzeria and need suggestions/advice
« Reply #8 on: December 05, 2020, 09:23:22 AM »
For a small restaurant, simple is the way to go.

I retire as an electronic technician in 4 years, and while I don't intend on going into the pizza business, I have been thinking what it would take to do NY pies out of a food truck... just in case I change my mind. Running a full pizzeria can be a lot of work, and I don't want to take the fun out of my hobby. But if I keep things simple, I may do it. Hence the food truck.

Be careful, while a food truck is a much cheaper way in, I find it to suck up way more time and energy than my restaurant.  They are not easy to run!!!!  before covid mine was out 6-7 days a week though, depending on the season, so not just a weekend hobby for me.   Its fun, but its a very tough business.   I have always looked forward to more restaurants but hoped for no more trucks!
« Last Edit: December 05, 2020, 10:03:34 AM by scott r »

Offline Andrew Bellucci

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Re: Looking to open up a small NY style pizzeria and need suggestions/advice
« Reply #9 on: December 05, 2020, 12:13:02 PM »
I am selling more pizzas than I ever though possible and I am incredibly fortunate to be quite a bit busier than all of my neighboring competition.  What worked for me was pizzas, 3 salads, 3 flavors of wings, and a handful of appetizers. I worked my ass off on every item to make them each the best I could possibly make them and I taste test ingredients nonstop trying to improve.  There is zero hot holding in my restaurant, no bain marie etc.  Everything is cooked to order.  All sauces and dressings are scratch.

Dont underestimate the salad.  It makes up a huge part of my sales and is the easiest thing we do thats not pizza.  I have fries  :-[  But in my defense I started out as a sit down restaurant with a bar and that was the only item on my kids menu (chicken tenders and fries).  I still dont have straight up fries listed on the menu but I get requests for them constantly, and do oblige. Whats funny is that so many adults were ordering chicken fingers and fries as an app with their pizza that I removed the section that said "for the kids" and just put it on as part of my regular menu so adults wouldn't feel bad about ordering kids food.  I felt bad always hearing them say, "im so sorry, but is it ok if we order some chicken fingers and fries even though we aren't kids."  Its not interesting or cool at all, but it was such a hot and lucrative seller for me that I had to learn to embrace it on my menu.  I eventually started offering chili cheese fries because I have always made a mean chili, it was something easy to add onto the menu with a fast ticket time, and im just as proud of it as I am of my pizza ;)  Its now a great seller.

My menu started out much smaller than it is now.. less pizzas, less apps, no vegan menu, and as I found specials that were hot sellers I incorporated them into the menu full time as the kitchen staff got more experience and confidence.  Try to start with the smallest menu that you think you can get away with.  Nobody will care if you just sell pizzas and salads.  Then adjust and see what your customers need/want, and try things that your good at making that are easy on your kitchen staff.  This could be dependent on what is available at other establishments near you, or just local favorites.

I personally don't think pasta and pizza should be on the same menu.  they are too similar to me.  I try to put things on my menu that GO with pizza, but I also respect a sub shop or Italian restaurant that also sells pizza rather than a place like mine where the main focus is specifically on the pizza.  I hope you have tremendous success with your venture, and you are so lucky (as I am) to have this forum to help!!!

So many different ways to go. 

A salad is a must - even if it's the only non-pizza item you have.  When I opened Lombardi's, I put a salad on the menu - and almost every order had one on the ticket.  My salad was =just a slightly fancier version that the salad at John's on Bleecker:  mesclun, red onions, fresh mushroom, great tomatoes and a house dressing - that's it.  My salad now will use ingredients I already have in place for the pizzas + a choice of house dressings including a couple varieties of scratch Ranch (and a Vegan ranch).

As for fries - I can see it on a kids menu and I can tell you the loaded waffle fries I put on the menu in Malaysia were a big hit.  We even used them in combo meals.  And one year in we introduced 5 pastas - and they were an instant hit.  But that was in a mall setting.  Emmy Squared does loaded fries...

For me, I want to be taken seriously in NYC as a slice-forward place that also serves other types of pizza.  I don't want that diluted with anything else.  But that's my vision.  Doesn't mean that works for someone else with a different business model.

People keep asking me about soup as well...
Rest In Peace - May 2023

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37-08 30th Avenue
Astoria, New York

IG: @The_Bellucci

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Offline Quebert

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Re: Looking to open up a small NY style pizzeria and need suggestions/advice
« Reply #10 on: December 05, 2020, 09:03:52 PM »
Not advice, but I would definitely give it a try if I lived close.  Any place that considers a 12" pizza a personal pizza's good in my book :) 

Actually I have the same advice everyone else does, make the menu a lot smaller and focus on making a few things perfectly. If it's that good, less can be more.
« Last Edit: December 05, 2020, 09:10:27 PM by Quebert »

Offline Pizza_Not_War

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Re: Looking to open up a small NY style pizzeria and need suggestions/advice
« Reply #11 on: December 05, 2020, 09:16:47 PM »

Basically, I want the simplest and most popular items that I/people love from a pizzeria. Does anyone think this is a sustainable business model? My idea is that by keeping it simple, you can focus all your energy into making the best of the items you serve, and also reduce the amount of wasted food, but will it be enough to compete with pizzerias that offer everything under the sun? I wonder how much they really sell of certain items. Thanks!
You should know this info before you start competing. I've seen many places do well with big menus and also with small offerings. So much depends on your location and competition. If you haven't already done it, go work for another pizza place for awhile and see what goes on.

Wondering is not the basis for a good business beginning.

Offline waltertore

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Re: Looking to open up a small NY style pizzeria and need suggestions/advice
« Reply #12 on: December 06, 2020, 01:54:40 AM »
It takes time to figure your groove.  Our food waste is currently  about $5 a week as we sell out of our set # of dough balls every week. 
« Last Edit: December 06, 2020, 11:43:26 PM by waltertore »
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Offline jkb

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Re: Looking to open up a small NY style pizzeria and need suggestions/advice
« Reply #13 on: December 07, 2020, 04:20:21 AM »
16" is a small pie.
John

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