Can a Pizza Place exist in a town of just 3000 people?

Hi everyone,

I have been reading your forum for days and have really obtained a lot of useful info - so thanks so much! But I have a question: There is a funky little town just minutes from where I live. In the past few years, it has been getting revitalized and has become a kind of hip place to be. There are numerous antique stores, cafes, one of the best bars in the area, a hostel that is top-rated, etc, etc. The population is only 3000 people, howver the town plays hosts to a few festivals each year, is a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts and is pretty busy. My question is, do you all think a small, take away and delivery only pizza place could make it here? There is nowhere where you can buy pizza currently and pizza places in neighbouring areas will only deliver with a $10 delivery charge. Any input you could give me would be very much appreciated!

Forgot to say that I am in Canada if that makes a difference

That definitely makes a difference! :stuck_out_tongue:

Seriously though there is some really good info on small town markets in the FAQ section-have you read that? is a good one to start.

There is a a town of 2000 people 25km in one direction and another of 2300 people 50km in anothe direction that both have delco pizza places that seem to be doing well. The average week for either one of them is about 5k in sales. So to answer your question yes it is possible.

Thanks guys! To give you some more info:

The town is located next to a much bigger city (pop. 20,000) which is only 10 minute drive away (but far enough that other pizza companies don’t want to deliver there) There is a young, kind of hip crowd there. Lots of funky shops, etc. The population is on the rise and a few big devlopments are slated for there which will double the size of the town, although that is a few years away.

I did some census digging and found that there is 1137 private dwellings.

175 residents are aged 10 - 14
180 aged 15 - 19
480 aged 20-34

What province are we talking about here? If it is in the east i would be iffy about it but the west seems to be riding out the bumps a little better.

I am in BC

From what I’ve gathered on this site, one can expect an average of $1-2 per household per week? So, using those numbers that equates to $1137 - $2274 per week. $9096 per month which is just over $109,000 per year. That seems low, doesn’t it?

What other, if any, food places are in the town? Who are you competing with for the meal money?

There is a pub / bar that is popular for it’s musicians but the food is your typical bar food (just OK) and they do not sell pizza. There is a bakery that sells very nasty looking pizza by the slice during the day. There are two other bars but they don’t really serve food. There are two coffee shops/cafes, one of which is very popular. There is a higher end Indian restaurant. I think it is important to note that there is no real grocery store in this community - you have to drive to the neighbouring city for that. So if you get home and there is no food in the fridge for dinner…well I guess you might just have to order pizza. :smiley:

Just wanted to add that I appreciate the time you are taking to talk to me about this

Are there any schools in the town? They can be a good source of lunch time business.

I will have a chat with the gal that runs the pizza place in the next town when she comes to get cheese this week and find out what her averages are. She does lunches for the schools there.

There is an elementary and junior high school but no high school. =( The site I am looking at is near the liquor store and bar, which I thought would be good for business. Maybe could also get the after the bar crowd by selling by the slice?

There is good money around here selling slices to the after close crowd, if you are in the right location. I would say the potential is there for a money maker. Keep doing your research, you will need to know much more than I did when I started to make a smooth go of it.

Thanks so much for your help Daddio! I will keep digging up more info. Was I right in calculating my numbers based on the # of homes?

  1. Apartments, commercial parks, and colleges are gold for a small town pizza joint.

  2. We use a really rough guess of about $17.85US per household per month as a potential market for pizza in an area. Do the math, and you should be able to eek out $200K or so eventually, with strong business plan and marketing.

  3. Grantville, GA is about 2500 people in a somewhat depressed town in a growing county that could boom if the economic funk lifts. We have survived 4 1/2 years, but not without some pain and some borrowing to get stabilized in our own real estate. Sales have grown every year. . . we have a quite varied menu . . . and we are leveraging dine in to expand our market for future potential holding our own and then growth.

Yeah, it can be done, and done well. Takes a little creativity and tenacity.

We have a similar situation close to us here in Manhattan, Kansas. The towns Riley, Kansas, population…maybe 200??? But they can support a pizzeria. It isn’t the town population supporting the store, but rather the surrounding area, which to a great extent is rather devoid of pizzerias. We are seeing that some of these small towns are making a rather large splash in the pond with a good pizzeria or restaurant, again, they continue to draw in the local surrounding community. Offer a GREAT pizza, at a fair price (notice that I didn’t say cheap), and provide friendly service. These are the things that I’ve found in common at this type of store in our area, and they all seem to be doing pretty well.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

Tom hit on exactly what we have been doing for 49 years. In a town of 2500 people I have been able to do 700K the last two years because we have friendly staff, great pizza, and a fair price. We started out as the only pizza around back in 1959 and now people come from all around for a taste “Just like they remember”

We are in a small town of 900 with a surrounding area of about 3,000 in a vast rural mountainous river valley. This has been our home for 35+ years so knew the people before we started our shop about 15 years ago (without a clue about demographics or the pizza biz or much else except a passion for doing my own business). The nearest big town with other pizza places (Arby’s, Papa Murphy’s, Dominos, a Greek restaurant) is 23 miles away.

I’ve hung in there with the best food I can produce, consistent hours, and a friendly staff so we draw customers from far away (we’re in a summer tourist area and there is a lot of driving through to a big tourist area… lots of repeat customers every year). It took a long time to build up to this but we’re hanging in there. Sales are around $325K or so. In the past there were several other regular restaurants, but they all seem to be closing. One new one is all that is left and I wish them well because I like to have competition (and a place that serves breakfast). We deliver to anywhere in our big area and that is something that has helped us with sales, especially during the winter. (In summer it’s fun to deliver to the state park and KOA campgrounds.)

One thing about small towns is that you want to participate in anything you can join, from the chamber of commerce to handing out raffle prizes to every group that asks. Sponsor a sports team. Host events. Talk to the customers and become their friend. Word of mouth will be your number one advertising so make sure it’s positive! I’ve seen places go down because they weren’t ready to debunk gossip.

BC is doing just fine right now and will continue that way for a few more years…It is the spin off from the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver Whistler and continuing strong sales of oil and gas drilling exploration rights in NE BC…And I suspect the province and the feds will come up with some large public works projects before the May 2009 provincial election…I am sure there are a few spots that are off the beatin path that this may not hold true for but for the most part we are okay…

Yes you can make it in a small place…But you have to do it right…Get a POS sytem and work your data base…Get out in the community with free pizza and menus…Do not get too hung up on your own ego when you get complaints…You really have to give complainers the benefit of the doubt…