Is a convenience store/pizzeria viable?

Hello experts,

My name is David and I have what I think is an excellent opportunity but, would like to use the experts as a sounding board. Here’s a snap shot of the situation.

10 years ago the state department purchased 3 of the 5 acres of my parent’s property for a highway project. We were left with 2 acres on an intersection. Recently the highway opened and the current traffic count is around 10,000 vehicles per day. Also we fall just outside the boundaries of a Master Planned Community where they are now building model homes and project 15,000 homes in 10 years. 1.7 miles south of our location the community is building a college (expected to be open end of year and initially 700 students). 2.5 miles south of our location a new high school was built (Catholic) and they have 600 students. To date there is no competition on the 10 mile stretch of highway nor in the community. Considering the traffic count, lack of competition, college, master planned construction, high school, teachers and construction workers I felt a pizzeria would be great. Recently the owners of the Master Planned Community contacted me and asked if I would be interested in a land swap and moving the operation directly across highway from college and inside the planned community (the property would still be on highway). The planned community also asked if I would be interested in building a convenience store/gas station/pizzeria combination. I have found a local gas jobber that is excited about partnering with me on the project and is willing to absorb all costs associated with pump, tank, canopy installation and split profits with me. An external party conducted a site feasibility assessment on the site and projected 200,000 gals of fuel and 100,000 inside sales for the c-store initially. I may be getting a bit close to the project because I can’t find anything wrong with short and long term viability of the operation. The pizzeria would be connected to the C-store but would basically be a separate operation (there would be an opening in the wall allowing access to the pizzeria for commuters and we would sell pizza by the slice to go. The architect mentioned running a duct from near the pizza oven to the c-store so customers would be overwhelmed by the awesome smell of pizza as they enter the store. My vision for the pizzeria is something like an Abrecrombie and Fitch coolness level cafe with great music, wifi, quality beer and a couple of big screens for game day.

As the experts I ask if my vision for the pizzeria unit of the operation is off track or if this is really a viable concept?

thanks in advance for taking time to review and comment

Warm Regards,

David

Sounds like a great idea to me actually. Colleges and Pizza go together like peanut butter and jelly. The kids will definatly goto the gas station for drinks, smokes, condoms, ect and if there is the awsome smell of pizza hanging in the air that is a great way to grab them into grabbing a pie for them and their friends. Additionally I would look into offering delivery to the campus only.

I have seen several pizza places inside gas stations in my travels and they always seem to do great business. I have actaully skipped gas stations to goto one with pizzarias in them so I could grab a small personal pan and breadsticks with my pepsi from the gas station. I would do it if I had a great location like that.

Thanks for the input. Yes, since there is nothing in the community, I certainly would plan to offer delivery. Another challenge I am having is projecting sales… how can I project sales considering we’ll offer to go, dine in and delivery options? I need this for part of my business plan.

best regards,

D

Hmm projecting sales when you don’t really have anything to compare it to can become difficult. Maybe compare to what other pizza stores in a simular setting get?

yes…I’m trying to find comparable benchmarks. It’s hard to find comparables since this isn’t a standard convenience store quick grab pizza option. It’s more of a top shelf pizzeria that happens to be connected to a convenience store :slight_smile:

Well…having “been there/done that” there are a few hurdles to overcome - namely the perception that you have “quality” pizza…

Domino’s/PJ’s/Howie’s have stores in C-stores, as well as the many, many C-stores that have a Hunt Bros./Pizzas of Eight type set-up or any of the par-baked style choices…

We were there 4 just a year (a very small foot-print as compared to yours…

It can be done, but I don’t think your plan is the best option, but do your homework - do a biz plan - how many household are within a 5 mile radius & do the projections…

I wouldn’t do it again…

Thanks for the great input. My building is 5000 sq ft and 2000 sq ft will be allocated for the brick oven pizzeria/college hang out beer pub. I can alleviate the walk through in the wall so it gives the perception of separate operations but that would reduce my C-store walkin traffic.

David

One challenge that I would offer to identify for you is: Branding. It can be resolved, probably, but there will be definite brand confusion problems in trying to open a “classier” pizzeria in a C-store location. There will be significant downward pressure from marketplace expectation/perception. A strong marketing campaign and incessant presance in the public eye and mouth could overcome it all.

The Brand is the identity your business will carry in the marketplace. You will be perceived initially as comparable to C-store feeding troughs, and truck stock sorts of places. If you cannot at least be an outparcel, then a systematic branding campaign where you are constantly in the public eye, as a higher scale place, is a must at the outset. This is one situation where I suspect that marketing budget should be a significantly considered item instead of “oh, by the way”. Everything you do and say as a business should tell people that you are a place to get exceptional food, service and value for the dollar.

Get a visual identity of a logo, color scheme, other print icons, and a “look” that is ideitifiable and makes people think “good quaity and professional”. Signage, business cards, menues, flyers, in-store decor, uniforms, and anything else should all stream/flow from this brand identity you are building. It doesn’t have to be corporate cookie-cutter mindless stuff, but should all fit together into this unique identity that you are creating in the marketplace.

A down-home, rickety BBQ shack on a back road with staff wearing uniforms of beige dockers and embroidered golf shirts is branding confusion, for example.

I have contacted a branding organization to discuss the specifics of my C-Store/pizzeria project. The issue as I see it is a bit more complicated since it is on the same property and connected to a convenience store. The way I see it (but what do I really know as I’m a dumb ARSE redneck from MS!) is we have commuters that want to grab a slice to go, construction workers wanting affordable lunch, college kids that want a cool/hip place to hang and get a colde beer/slice of pie, the pizzeria needs to be upscale enough so the progressive thinking soccer moms will order the Feta cheese/tomato/basel pizza on their way home and hip enough the dads will want to pop in after mowing the lawn on Sat to watch the game and grab a beer with his pals. This is why I’m leaning towards a brick oven/wood burning experience…

Thanks for the input.

Hello David, my name is Mark Campanella I am the VP of Marketing & Franchise Developement for Just Pizza Franchise Systems. We are a Buffalo,NY. Based Franchise and would like to discuss this matter wiyh you in detail. I invite you to log onto our website @ justpizzausa.com, After your review please contact me @1(800)251-5689 for futrher discussion or e-mail me at mark@justpizzausa.com I THINK YOUR IDEA DESERVES THIS***“DON’T JUST GET INTO THE PIZZA BUSINESS-GET INTO THE JUST PIZZA BUSINESS…YOU’LL BE GLAD YOU DID”!!! Thank you. Mark…

HI Mark,

Thanks for the message. I checked out your website and the pizza looks great. At this point, I’ve spent the last 15 yrs in the corporate world being told what to do and how to do it so I’m sure you can appreciate my desires not to affilate with a franchised organization. Who knows, things can change tomorrow though.

Thanks for your message and taking time to read my post.

David

Hi Gesb:

It appears you have a winner:

We have supplied Layout and design service to thousands of pizza shops. About 600 to outfits in the top 25.

We have designed Pizzerias in party stores, In conjunction with gas stations,in super markets,in conjunction with sports bars and pool halls in addition to the various traditional environments.

At no charge to you we would like to do a floor plan for your project.

If interested in our free input please contact me at pizzaovens@aol.com

George Mills