Getting ready to open my pizzeria....Any last tips?

Hello Everyone,

After about 4 months of hard work and somwhere around $60,000, I am just about ready to open my pizzeria. To give you all a short run down, I had to completely remodel the interior of my 2500 sqft facility. The remodel included adding a second ADA accessible bathroom, adding an arcade room, painting, drywall, tile, etc…but the biggie was building a 800 sqft kithcen from nothing. The only reason I attempted the remodel was becasue the location is unbeatable and there are no other places that had enough room for the type of place I wanted.

As my user name (rookiepizzaguy) states, I am new to the game you all call “Pizza”. My background is in construction, thus I was able to build my shop myself and saved a buttload of money in doing so. I believe I have done a good job of researching the pizza business and should be alright once Ive actually opened my doors…optimistic yes…but Im a quick learner and I know I can come to you all for help when I need it…THANK YOU ALL FOR THAT!

My pizzeria will seat approx. 80 patrons and will have a “reservation” area for parties and group meetings and a small arcade for the kids. I plan on serving mainly pizza, with wings, appetizers (cheese sticks etc), some pasta, and of course subs …also gonna have a salad bar…only because Im going to have the only salad bar in my town and I think it will be a good thing for trying to build my lunch crowd.

I plan on doing a slow opening and just quietly opening my doors with no other advertising other than a large "Now Open " banner on the outside of my building. I want to try and work out the bugs as much as possible before I start the advertising. DO to my highly visible location, I have already had loads of looky lous asking when Im going to open…and thats with the windows all covered and front doors shut and locked.

Now that I have explained my scenario, I will get down to the nitty gritty…Im asking all of you to think back to the day you first opened and share with me what I need to be ready for and any other tips you all can give me.

Thanks in advance to all of you. Im scared to death but I will make it…I hope!

I am in a similar place to you …Looking to open my first place…So all I can offer is good luck which seems to go hand and hand with good solid smart work and preparation. What kind of an oven did you choose?..What style of pizza will you be serving…All the best to you …

Welcome to the biz, Rook.

My biggest recommendation (although it may sound terribly obvious) is to make sure your employees know exactly what you expect from them in regards to your food, customer service, responsibilities, scheduling, etc. As an example, I made the big mistake of not having my complete recipes on the makeline when I first opened. They worked off of menus. So instead of making everything the way I wanted it made, my people made it the way they wanted it made. Needless to say, it was kind of painful. I quickly rectified that situation and things were fine. But I may have lost some customers due to poor “first impressions”.

You should have a employee handbook in place that explains your policies. Have job descriptions that explains everyones’ primary and secondary responsibilities. Have training that includes roll-playing for dealing with customers.

One thing I did two days before I opened was that I allowed all of my employees to invite two friends or family in for some free food and drink. It was like a dress rehearsal for the crew, with a much more forgiving audience. It really helped the crew and me.

We did a soft open as well and held off for a month before having our grand opening. Although I thought we would ease into it as well, I coudn’t have been more wrong. People were just about busting down the doors the first two weeks. Our first Saturday is still our single biggest day ever. Just be ready in case the whole town decides to come in once you open.

Good luck.

A nice round up of the way to go.

It’s all about the little one percenters that make the difference from the start that peope will remember.

Don’t forget the little things to have on board such as an extra change float, extra supplies, staff back-up (someone is going to call in sick at the last minute), menus and fridge magnets to hand out and bounce backs to make sure they come back after the first visit. A nice touch is a candy jar for the kids with cheap little lollypops - they love them and the parents appreciate the thought.

Best luck wit the opening and don’t ever forget to ask any of the people here for help or advise, even me down under in Oz. There may be a little something that we do here that may help you out one day, but there is a heap of veterans to the game with a lot of knowledge that know the US trade inside out, especially Daddio (Richard) Paul, Nick ( he did what you have done), Kris, etc (sorry to those I didn’t mention).

On a side note, just before you open put you head down bewtween your legs and kiss your ar$e goodbye because it is going to be kicked to hell for the next 12 months as you get everything in line. :frowning:

Dave

Try to make the same mistake. . .the least amount of times as possible :slight_smile:
Good Luck

Customer satisfaction. Get it right or don’t charge for it. Say thank you to every customer. Meet as many as possible yourself. One of the great advantages of an indi shop over the big guys is the personal touch. People LIKE to do business with SOMEBODY rather than with some company.

Take the suggestion above to bring in friends and neighbors for a dress rehearsal.

Get the product the way you want it before you start taking money.

get your menu in stone so that your staff has everything down without you changing it…and yes the next year will be gut wrenching…just go in with a goal to make ANY improvement EVERY day!

Rook,
I will be at my first year June 30th. Every reply is right on, I can’t stress it enough how hard it was. Now I have a footprint and a daily sales goal to follow off my POS. I could kick my own but* for all the crap I spent money on the first few months, INCLUDING food! I dissected my entire menu, ingredients, condiments EVERYTHING! Your food rep may seem like your best friend but they are in it to make money. One example: We sell a lot of home made desserts, most of them have chocolate syrup on them, my sales rep sold me Hershey’s squeeze bottles for almost a whole year. When I finally got enough time to start tightening my ship I found on their product list #10 cans of Hershey’s syrup that I could use in a random squeeze bottle and would have saved hundreds of dollars. I was not pleased, but it was my fault for not being diligent from the start. You will be very busy with many things, please don’t make that mistake that I made, be sure of each little item you are ordering, and do your food cost on everything down to frill picks and wax paper! My food cost went from 33% down to 25% after I dissected and fixed all my waste. Another thing, if you can afford some extra money on order day and have some room, order deep! Canned items, paper/hard goods, anything that doesn’t spoil. If you have a slow season, and you will, you’ll be glad your only buying perishables. On Labor, I hope you have a POS or some formula that you can use to not go over 20%. All I have to do is look on my “Dashboard” on my POS and it tells me where I am on labor in net sales. When I get close to 18% I start looking to cut employees off the clock. Well that’s my two cents, hope it helps. Good luck man.

                                                                                                             Willi

Well rookie you are gonna have to change your name soon :slight_smile:

Congrats on making it this far…

My advice to you is…

If you are married or have a family get together and have a meeting about what is going to happen. Remind them all it is going to be tough and in time will get better hug and encourage each other often.

As the above posters suggested have a run with friends and family. You will work out tons of bugs this way and they are forgiving as someone posted. You can stage it somewhat…Explain you are trying to create a rush…invite some from 5-6 and then another group from 6-7. You need to fill the dining room to max and have a small wait this will give your crew a chance to get blasted instead of a few tables trickling in which would be easy to handle. You want it to be difficult. For employees families you could give 50% off this night only. Perhaps even have comment cards ready. Also figure out how you will handle straglers who come in because they will think you are open. For us we let em join in and gave them a bill.

When we did this we found out many of bugs from oops we didn’t have a plunger to re arranging the kitchen a bit.

Your first few weeks should be intense…don’t get the false hope that things are gonna stay this way…they will not but if you handle it well you can make a bit of money to RE INVEST. Have a marketing strategy in place for the following 3 months. Do this before you open so you will start implementing it month 2,3 and 4. You will be exhausted so get this done before you open. Use some of the money you made from the honeymoon stage to do more marketing.

Make sure your staff knows the menu. Since everyone is new you will really need to have this in check. We had tests and more tests so they knew every morsel we could think of. (Make it fun…maybe give away the 50% off for family during your trial run to the top test takers…even though you would anyway…they don’t know that.)

Have magnets, menus (quality) box toppers ready to go. Make sure to over stock on employees, food and drink.

Make sure your vendor is fully available to help if you need product. Same with your arcade vendor and the procedures there.

Start a birthday club, coloring contest from the go so you can start collecting addresses for marketing and this will help with your kid focus (arcade)

Have a press release ready to go, call the paper to do a story.

Make sure to have extra clothes for yourself…you will be there all day… Make sure to eat.

I think your salad bar is a fabulous idea…so make sure to really make it good, clean. When in doubt throw it out. You want it to be the best dang bar around.

That is all I can think of right now but make sure to read these posts over and over. We have all done it and it is quite an experience…enjoy the ride.

Kris

A lot of great advice so far, the only thing I can add is to give longer waits than you think necessary. Things will go wrong, and nothing is more stressful than being behind on your orders. You will learn that when you tell someone 45 minutes and it takes 52, they will act like you owe them your firstborn. Have fun!

If it were me I would probably not “open” with a salad bar. Unless I was certain I had a lot of foot traffic, and somewhat of a captive audience, I would not want to be bleeding that much food right off the bat. To do it right, you have to keep it fresh and rotated which is hard to do without throwing a lot out until you build the business up. Its also a lot more labor intensive than you think.

Definitely throw a pre-party or two to get warmed up.

Watch your labor as well. It will eat you alive quick. Cut shifts short when they are not needed.

Good Luck!

firstly good luck!

my advice:

trust no-one double check everything
don’t do favours for anyone as it’ll come back and bite you.
be consistent
expect to have no life for a few months at least
be prepared to accept that you’ve screwed up when you have
be prepared to re think what appeared to be a good idea at the time
learn now that its gonna be 200% worse than you think

then, you might have a good time. Enjoy!! (and I really do mean that - please do enjoy!)

This is all great advice. Let me add a few things that I wished I had done.
Have a prep list. I know that it is just a guess at first but try and figure out how much you will need for your busiest day and work with that in mind when you first open. There is nothing quite like trying to do prep during a rush when nobody really knows what they are doing.

Right from the start use some sort of portion control it will have a two fold effect. First is will keep your food costs under control and second it will make for a consistant product for your customers.

Best of luck with your opening. Remember the advice of Earl Nightingale, “Treat every person you deal with as though they are the most important person on Earth.” this will give you the reputation of being the friendly pizza guy and keep customers coming back for more.

I couldn’t have paid for better advice…THANK YOU ALL for your insight and words of encouragement. T-Minus 3 weeks til Im open…