Best & Worst Aspect of Owning A Pizzeria?

Here are what I’d personally say are the best and worst aspects of owning a Pizzeria:

Best: I feel like I’m accomplishing something. I’m building equity at a young age as I continue to pay off the loan I had to take out to acquire this business. I look back at a lot of people I graduated with, many of them still living with parents, wasting their time either not working or working just part time. At this point, I don’t think I could ever do a normal 40 hours a week job and not feel guilty about having so much free time where I could be making more money working a second part time job. This endeavor has taught me a tremendous amount of work ethic which will hopefully last with me through my working years.

Worst: Even though I own the business, it feels more like the business owns me. We’re open 7 days a week and I’m typically here 6.5-7 of them. I hate the feeling of knowing I have to be somewhere every single day of the week. Even the half day that I get off occasionally, I feel uneasy about not being there. Unfortunately, I don’t see light at the end of the tunnel for this either.

Just my thoughts and was curious how other people felt about the positives and negatives of owning their own pizzeria.

Best: make the rules. Do things the way I want them done. Have the ability to try new things without having an owner worried about waste. If I make a pulled pork and it doesn’t sell I chalk it up as a loss and move onn. I have also made tons of connections through customers and other people in the business. This sat one of my customers gave me Knicks vs nets tickets firSt row. 2,000 seats. That is something I would not have if I wasnt the guy bs ing with these people all day.
I have to agree with you on the workload. I usually schedule myself to work 5 days. Almost Never is that the case. Even with a partner im stuck sometimes. We are in our 4th year and I have been on a roller coaster. Over the last year we have worked to double the business, but mo money mo problems. I have probably worked 320 days this year including christmas and thanksgiving. My schedule has been
1st year worked 7 days and killed myself very little profit
2nd year worked 4 days a week ( my partner and I had some differences so we chose to work half the week each with Friday being the only day we worked together
3rd year worked 5-6-7 days a week (my partner and I decided it was time to put the bs aside and make money)

Some things are tough. Late september a car drove through our store. As an employee it would be an extended vacation. As an owner it was a financial nightmare (temporarily)
Things like employee cell phones. You and I are from the cellphone generation. It’s harder for me to tell someone to put away their phone as it would be in my fathers business. I grew up with it. I got the most high tech cell phone in the joint. I want people to be able to answer their friends…but teaching timing and such. It gets frustrating.

Basically being the only one who cares sucks.

Best: Being our own boss. Using our own brain power and creativity to make our business grow.
If we don’t feel like working (and the staff is there) we can goof off for one day and don’t have to account to anybody.
The satisfaction that after 11 years in business people STILL come in and tell you how really great your pizza is

Worst: Worrying about rising costs: cheese, flour, insurance, etc.
Just when you think you have a vacation planned someone quits, gets sick or you have to fire someone for stealing. Guess what happens to those days off you had planned.
Just when you thought that you’d be ahead this month: the makeline, the walk-in, or something else breaks down and costs you money that you didn’t plan on.
Wondering why the last coupon campaign didn’t work after scheduling all those extra people and having the extra payroll costs
Wishing you could have a day off because you are really sick and need one
Always having to worry that someone is stealing food, product or money from you

I’m really sure that there is lots more reasons that I could put into each category, but I’m just too tired, but I KNOW that you can all relate to some of these that I have already put.

I’m a builder. I like creating, learning and improving in a business setting, especially working “outside the box” to improve efficiency. I’ve been able to reduce the operating costs of our 15 year old Mom 'N Pop Shop by about 40% in 2 years. I don’t really care about having a lot of money, but I get a kick out of making money because it’s quantifiable. I imagine it’s probably similar to a gamblers rush. We’re buying our building along with all the inventory, so even though I rarely take much pay, I know I’m generating a working asset that will benefit my family for a long time. We’re actually looking at taking over a pretty cool piece of property that we wouldn’t normally have the chance to get because of the new, stricter banking rules, but because they see how well we’ve done turning around our money-pit store, the bank is working hard to make it work for us.

There is no such thing as a day off. I try and sneak off with the family for a couple days of R&R every couple months, most times it gets ruined by employees. As a previous poster mentioned, it seems like every time I start to build up a good chunk of money in the bank, something breaks or goes wrong…and it usually happens when you don’t have that cushion to rely on.

Best: For me it’s the ability to make it work the way I want it to. No boss to tell me " I don’t like that Idea" If it doesn’t work oh well I tried and learned. I love interacting with the customers, I feel a freedom to really be able to talk to them. I Love watching people sit in the dining room and eating my pizza and smiling and laughing.

Worst: For me it’s the employee’s. I have a hard time with anxiety and having to deal with stupid excuses and crap causes it to rear it’s ugly head. The post about things breaking when you finally start to get a cushion in the bank… yeah… In my first year, between my two stores , I replaced every major piece of equipment except for mixers knocks on wood. I quit making plans to do anything. I just mentally set myself to work 7 days a week open to close. If i get to go home at 6 one night, it’s like a day off :slight_smile:

I stumbled upon this short thread, and let me say that as a person contemplating opening a pizzeria-type business, the thread is INVALUABLE. I really hope that more owners will contribute to it.

The thing that I really love about it is that it’s not just the negative side of things. It’s BOTH sides of the “coin”.

My story is that I have been dreaming of owning a smaller QSR (strombolis and salads) for around 20 years (not exaggerating). I’ve never had the courage to do it, and have always been afraid of the financial risk. Even more so, the deciding factor to not do it has always been the time commitment. Now that I have two kids, I’m even more hesitant to take the plunge, since I’m an active Dad, and love being around them.

That being said, I’m still totally drawn to this type of business. I have the financial means to get into it, and I’m willing to make the 7 day a week time commitment, if it’s temporary. This is where my knees start to shake. I’ve spoken to so many small restaurant owners (and business people in general), though, and I get very mixed input. Some say that you can start backing off once you have the “right people in place”. Seems logical, but why aren’t I reading that here in this thread?

Isn’t it realistic to think that I can leave for a few hours after the lunch rush, and then head back for dinner? And eventually, if I have a reliable shift leader, I can take off a Saturday or Sunday here and there? Or are you all laughing at my inexperience as you read this? I mean, I rarely see the owners of several pizza/sandwich shops that I frequent.

Whatever the case may be, I truly appreciate all who have contributed to these forums, and hope that this particular thread continues to gain content.

Best: It’s your choice. What? EVERYTHING!

Worst:…I got nothing. It’s all good.

In reply to mbinca, yep, once you get the right people in place, the pressure is off. (unless $ forces you to work all the time). I pretty much don’t ever work - I’m there everyday until 4:00 - but I just help out if it gets too busy. General advice to all who can’t find the right people to trust: Maybe it’s YOU who are the problem, not them. I don’t mean anything offensive, but you have to trust and rely on people, to find people whom you can trust and rely on. (I’ve had a 26 year string of good, reliable, people. With no more than 3 total culls in that period)

Trust is the key. If you micro-manage every detail 24/7 you have provided yourself with 3 full-time jobs. This applies with owning any business. Trust is so important but also so hard to let happen. Then when you get burned by someone you thought was onboard with your way of doing things…back at square one. If you are the type of person that will never hand over the day to day responsibility… then I would say take a long hard look and really think it over. If you can work with others and have the personality to handle people and problems in a calm and productive way…then owning a business is great. Either way… it is always a lot of work in the beginning. Best of luck whichever way you choose.

Best: Only having to work a few days a week. The first 5 years of being in business, that wasn’t the case. Once I got effective systems in place, lessened my emotional attachment, and started treating my pizza shops as business investments, I was able to step away and work more on the business instead of every minute in the business.

Another one of the best aspects of owning my own business is the relationships I’ve formed with my employees over the years. This also can be one of the works parts as well. I’ve been burnt quite a few times.

I also love being my own boss and not having to answer to anyone (which all ends when I go home and the wife, kids, and even the dog start bossing me around) lol. I love knowing, unlike most conventional jobs, that the harder I work, the more money I can potentially make.

Worst: Finding good employees. Customers that love to complain and are impossible to make happy.Probably my least favorite thing is dealing with the up and down prices of supplies. Take chicken wings for example. Since the summer the price has risen 55 cents a pound. So now I am paying $484 more a week (+$2097 a month) than I was in the middle of the summer. Not to mention the increased cost of many other things as well. The supplier will often complain about the prices to me but he can just adjust his pricing to make up the difference. It’s not that simple for us. We can’t just change our prices and print up new menus every week. The price increases pretty much effect us the most. All of the suppliers and purveyor above us can change their pricing often and we have no choice but to continue to buy. With out supplies, we have can’t make pizza. If we raise our prices, the customers can choose to either not order or buy $5 chain pizza. Unfortunately, there are no suppliers out there that will sell me product for the half the price of everyone else.

Another thing that is tough about owning your own pizzeria is that it can often times be stressful. With many jobs, you work all day and when it’s time to go home, that’s the last you will think about work. With owning a pizzeria, you’re always thinking about your business 24/7. I’m sure there aren’t too many security guards, warehouse workers, bankers, etc. surfing the web and visiting online forums every day trying to improve their trade. I’m sitting here watching the Giants/Eagles game. I should be thinking about eating pizza rather than how I can make money with pizza. Instead of just relaxing and enjoying the game, I can’t help but to crack open the laptop and check out the think tank to look for ideas to improve my business. Like I said it’s always on your mind.

Best: being successful. Knowing 1 day i won’t have to do it anymore.

Worst: Employees.


-Being my own boss and not having to follow protocols that are created by upper management who usually have not a clue how the day to day operations go.
-Getting to work with my significant other and not having to work with people I don’t care for, for one reason or another.
-Results are quantifiable. Unlike sitting in some office plugging away not really having a clue as to whether and how much you are improving someone else’s business.
-Building equity in an asset that will provide for years to come
-Creating jobs in our town as well as giving family members jobs
-Learning a whole lot about myself. I consider myself to be a perfectionist and pretty specific about stuff and when things aren’t done correctly, it makes me anxious. I have seen a big change in myself with regards to that aspect of my personality. I have learned that correcting someone every time they do something wrong or not how you would do it is counterproductive. Often times they have a better way of doing the task that I never thought of. And I’ve also learned that yes, while things do have to be done correctly, stressing over tiny mistakes is not worth it, address them and move on.

This should probably be filed under the “worst” category too but I’ve gone through a change in which my tolerance level for people is much lower. Not that I was a patient person before but working so much and so closely with the public, has made me cynical in ways and not as positive of a person as I used to be. Perhaps it’s the long hours coupled with barely getting to eat a meal that has blurred the big picture but I’m definitely a different person now.


-Time Commitment & Hours. For the first 6 months, we worked 7 days a week 12-14 hour days not including the hours logged at home paying bills, doing paperwork, etc. After the first of the year, we decided to close on Mondays as it was a slow day and also for the mental health aspect. The time commitment has proven to be the biggest hurdle for me to overcome. Coming from working a typical 9-5 job, I had the time to meet friends for happy hour and dinner, go to birthday parties and weddings, these are all things I have had to sacrifice for the most part unless they are on a Monday.
Before I owned a business I was always a hard worker but opening a pizza shop really gives the whole blood sweat and tears thing a whole new meaning! There were nights when I would get in my car at the end of the night and just start sobbing, days when I wasn’t sure how I would get through the day because we were understaffed or someone called off and days when I thought to myself “why in the heck did I ever think this was a good idea?!”
-Employees- I don’t have a whole lot of input on this since the majority of our staff is family (which can be both a blessing and a curse), but we are in the process of hiring more employees. With the exception of our one delivery driver who is awesome, we have only received ONE application that is remotely what we are looking for. Part of this I attribute to being new in the biz and being somewhat of a perfectionist.
-Stress- I’ll tell ya, there is nothing like having phones ringing off the hook, a dining room full of people, a line out the door for pick-ups and thinking, “how in the heck am I going to get through this without having a break down?!” because I can’t be in 3 places at once. This is mostly due to being understaffed but regardless, it’s still stressful.

Ahh, that was very therapeutic!

I’m sure I will think of many more things I wish I would have included but until then enjoy the mini novel! :smiley:

The additional replies are fantastic! I’m so glad that my previous post has spurred more activity to this thread. To all those who have contributed, THANK YOU! Know that your words are not falling on deaf ears. People WILL benefit from your knowledge.

In the interest of not side-tracking this thread, I’m going to create a new one with a question about the long hours, since that seems to be a common issue to everyone.

Once again, thank you for taking the time to write.

I never generally respond, but had to with this one.

My husband and I purchased a failing pizzeria 3 years ago. We have owned multiple businesses over the years and still run 2 other businesses besides the pizzeria. We were used to working long hours and the stress of being self-employed.

However, we NEVER would have guessed how much work goes into running and owning your own shop. We say to each other very frequently it is the hardest we have ever worked, for the least amount of money made.

Food costs are a constant problem. We have multiple vendors, both because we have so little refrigerator space AND because we can pit them against each other to receive the best price.

Employees. Enough said - you all know the problems. Cant they just work and not stir up fights between each other??? We have a lot of teens who work for us. They really are great kids, but they are just kids.

Hours. We finally have said to ourselves there are going to be mistakes we cannot be there every minute. We have 4 children - 16, 14, 12, and 9. We make it a PRIORITY to have dinner with them. It sometimes might be 7 or 8 in the evening, but we have to turn off and enjoy our family.

Breaking. Daily something breaks, shelves fall, pizza prep table handles break, ice machine overflows , freezer goes out. ETC ETC ETC… we are jacks of all trade in fixing things.
Wouldnt it be nice to have that new kitchen? We dream of it.

Rewarding is when we come to pick up our catering supplies and the people who just ate it stand and clap for you. Or when a citizen in your community offers a thank you to you for what you are doing for your community. Its little things like that.

Or teaching your children how to be entrepreneurs. Each one of our children own something that brings them money and responsibilities. One owns the coke machine outside, she must stock and place/pay for her orders. Another owns a gumball machine in the shop etc…