How did you get started?

So, I was wondering if anyone would be willing to share how they got started in the pizza business. Did you have to sell things, get a loan, save up for years?
I would appreciate the stories that get shared. Thanks.

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This looks like it’s going to be an interesting thread :slight_smile:
I wasn’t in the pizza business for a long time but here is my story…
Came in the States in 2010 on a tourist visa. I had experience with pizza from Greece but not so much for everything else.
Started working at an Italian style pizzeria for almost 2 years. Next, moved to a pan pizza for another 1.5 years.
Mid 2013, we got little lucky with an opportunity and leased a pizza shop (me & my wife), using all of our savings to get started. It was a little tough in the beginning without any financial backup for the rainy days but thankfully we managed it. Later in the same year, we started our first POS company. The pizza shop was doing ok by then while the POS business was getting started. A year later POS business started taking off, so we kept the pizza for few months (3-4) and then gave it up.
Fast forward to today and 2 POS companies later, still trying to build a software and occasionally helping a friend from time to time at his pizza shop when he goes away.
Now I work with First Data/Card Connect, Vantiv/Worldpay, Tsys, EMS & Aldelo Pay for merchant services and also offer other related services like POS software, digital signs, web design, surveillance, etc.
Based in Massachusetts since 2013, we recently opened a new office in GA so we’re in between places.
Gotta say though, love the weather in GA!!!

I grew up in it. my father came to america when he was 8 his first job was as a plasterer once he was old enough to hold a trowel. At about 16 he started making pizza for a family member who owned a pizzeria. Eventually, he, my grandfather, and uncle opened up their own place. If you ate at an italian restaurant in Chicago between the 50s and 80s chances were someone in my extended family owned it. Dad worked the kitchen, uncle ran the bar and my grandfather sat in booth and smoked cigarettes. My dad has owned 5 places in total over the years and I grew up in most of them. From making pizzas as a child standing on huge sauce pots to actually helping as a tween making salads and bread baskets. At 16 my parents were well enough to get me a car, they handed me the keys and said “now how are you gonna pay for gas and insurance? You are gonna work every friday, saturday, and sunday” lol I didn’t have time to go out and party on the weekends but I was the first kid to have my own cell phone and spending money on those rare occasions when I did get to go out. fast forward about 15 years my dad retired sold off his business and property. and 6 years ago I opened up my own restaurant.

My husband thought it would be fun! Yeap you heard that right! Took out a huge loan and the first year I cried ALOT and worried about how we were going to pay for everything but after that first year everything starting falling into place.

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I think you over simplified in your response!!
if you can expand on how did you get over the initial period and reason behind it. Please don’t tell me you got lucky ( i am not buying it)

We reopened a franchise location that had been closed for 6 months after 2 years of operation. The equipment was all in the store and was financed by previous operator on a lease to own deal. It had been sitting for 6 months without a payment not to mention how long they had gone without a payment before they closed. We were able to get a good deal with the fiancé company to get this dog off their books. We got a small loan through an affiliate of the small business administration and total cost to get going was only about $40,000.00. Within 2 weeks of opening we had positive cash flow and were able to make first payroll out of money from sales rather than the borrowed cash and the rest is history.

There was a screw loose in my brain. While I was distracted wondering what the rattling sound was I saw a newspaper ad for an equipment package from a failed PJ’s in place and new lease. I went to look at it. Despite having spent my professional life in another industry altogether (Senior VP of the outdoor brand Marmot), based on my experiences working at Knowlton’s, Dominos and Green Mill in St Paul/Mpls in the 1970s and at the Duple Pizza Shack in Dahlem (West Berlin) in 1984 I thought “what the heck” and purchased the equipment, signed a lease, hired a manager, and started my business in Steamboat Springs. Four months later I found another place that was shut down for the off-season and purchased that equipment and signed another lease for second seasonal location.

That was all in 1999. In the meantime I worked for 6 years for another outdoor brand (Patagonia) and later became a business broker (2007) which is what I do today.

19 years and five days after we opened the first location I sold the last of the business and property (I ended up owning both real estate locations too). Still doing business brokerage. In fact, I have two other pizza restaurants among my listings. Life is funny that way.

I bought Bodegehwy’s last store and real estate. Had a screw loose. Still do. Wife and I wanted to move to Steamboat for several years. Saved our money from our corporate jobs for about 12 years and then made the leap. Still consulting in the old line of work and keeping managers running the store while I work upstairs on my other business. Maybe some day I’ll stop consulting and run the store. I worked at a pizza hut when I was a teenager in the 90s. It was delco similar to current set up. Made 4.05 an hour. Godfathers across the street paid 4.10.