Menu expansion in pizza shops

Hi Guys:

There appears to be a trend growing in the industry to vastly expand the menu items offered by pizza carry out and delivery shops.

We are getting more operators planing to do ribs, deep fried shrimp and other sea food, french fries and grilled and broiled items.

The reasoning appears to be that most prime areas are over populated with pizza shops and that a much more diverse menu selection is necessary to bring in the sales volume required to be sucessfull.

Any opinions on this trend?

George Mills

16 years ago when I started as a driver with my company all we served were 12" and 16" pizzas and cans of Coke, Diet Coke and Sprite. It sure was easy back then. Just 1000’s of pizzas every week with nothing to slow you down when six phone lines were ringing non stop. On and off the phone in 30-40 seconds, no sauces cluttering up the cut table. Fast forward to today and phone calls take nearly 2 minutes on average, sauce cups and bottles clutter our cut table, drivers mix up the different side items on multiple deliveries. Ticket averages are now double what they used to be. I would live to go back to the basics, but the chains now have people expecting a little bit of everything on the menu. I don’t think I could be profitable today with the menu from back then. But service would be quite a bit better!

I struggle w/that DAILY!!!

I came from a very small shop w/a big menu, to a extremely larger shop w/a limited menu (styled in part after Paul’s operation)…

Four more pizza shops have opened near me, with 1 more on the way…plus another 7 or so nationals…

I have the space/equipment/exp to do a BIG menu, but little seating…

We do serve an awesome fried chicken tender program, and have recently added ft. long subs/melts (using items already on hand) plus a couple of salads & some pasta…

I compete for the student dollar, as well as the local money and don’t want 2 b left out of the mix when decisions are made on what to eat…

Its hard 2 reign in the expanse, as we’re still re-establishing the brand, but I feel I now have a “no-veto” selection and will maximize my sales for the rest of the year…

On a touchy point (as I hi-jack the thread) what about that mythical “$5” price point that Subway/Quizno owns, and now Friday’s has dropped into that realm as well…

Is there a price war on the horizon?

Do one thing, and do it brilliantly! For a DELCO to do burgers, fries, fried seafood, broiled items… well, I think they just end up doing a bunch of stuff that is mediocre instead of one thing that is great. I can’t see how you could possibly do all of those things in an efficient manner either.

My store isn’t a DELCO, but I still follow the K.I.S.S methodology here. Instead of trying to be all things to all people, I prefer to be the place people call when they want great pizza.

The problem with menu expansion is where do you draw the line. You add footlong subs and how long does that add to the phone calls. Everyone wants you to be Subway and wants to pick and choose each individual topping they want. You have subs, may as well add wraps. And since you’re doing subs, what about a philly? And if you bring in a flattop to cook your phillys on, why not add burgers? Which brings you to your fryer? Do you deliver fries? Are they any good 20 minutes after being cooked? What else out of the fryer? Wings and tenders are a no brainer, but what about fish, shrimp, cheese sticks, mushrooms, ravioli? And pasta sure seems like a good fit to all of our menus. With it, new sauces are brought in, and we may as well offer them on our pizzas. And since you have pastas, and chicken, might as well offer them together. And if you serve shrimp from your fryer, do you now offer pastas with shrimp? And since you added a chicken parm pasta, you may as well bring in eggplant and do the same. Soon enough you need 6 line cooks to prepare the food needed on a slow Monday night. Patriot, I’m not trying to pick on you, just trying to make some sense of it all. The busiest pizza place I know serves all of this stuff. My weekly sales are a Friday night to them.

I agree with you Piper…unless of course you business plan was to always be a very varied menu…I see some of these desert offerings by the big chains and they all look so unappealing…I don’t want my local pet store to start offering me produce…I don’t want to see my local donut shop to start to offer me Chinese food (which it has)…I mean I think some items compliment a menu and some conterdict offerings on a menu…The food blend has to make sense…I guess you could get away with some things…but I have to think in the long run you lose focus of what you wanted to be…or who you really are…

Our menu is big, rotisserie chicken, back ribs, lasagna, salads, wings, calzones, pizza accounts for 65% of our sales. These days with the popularity of food shows, celebrity chefs etc, customers who I target expect more and expect high quality in my opinion. My menu helps us stand out from the pizza shops who just do pizza and allows large groups to order and get what they want. We make everything from sctratch and brag about how amazing our food is, i charge for it big time and promote VALUE VALUE VALUE. I tell customers if they have any problems with their food, cold, not what expected etc… I will replace it or give them their money back, not one customer yet has called me on that but I’ve only been in biz for about 7 months.

I think as mentioned the biz plan dictates how and what the menu will be. A delco geared for students i would think just do pizzas and wings while a goumet shop can be more diverse. I’m in a resort town and I also own a restaurant delivery business (Resort Room Service) that publishes a dining magazine for customers to order from. So, my big menu is needed to complement my delivery biz sales and push my pizza shop sales. Since i joined these two concepts together I must say it is working great, customers can order from Resort Room Service or order direct from my pizza shop, kinda like double marketing.

You have subs, may as well add wraps. And since you’re doing subs, what about a philly? And if you bring in a flattop to cook your phillys on, why not add burgers? Which brings you to your fryer? Do you deliver fries? Are they any good 20 minutes after being cooked? What else out of the fryer? Wings and tenders are a no brainer, but what about fish, shrimp, cheese sticks, mushrooms, ravioli? And pasta sure seems like a good fit to all of our menus. With it, new sauces are brought in, and we may as well offer them on our pizzas. And since you have pastas, and chicken, might as well offer them together. And if you serve shrimp from your fryer, do you now offer pastas with shrimp? And since you added a chicken parm pasta, you may as well bring in eggplant and do the same. quote]

looks like you just described my menu…anyways we went from the lean and mean menu before our first expansion when we had limited seating…after our first expansion we added the items Paul mentioned above…we just finished adding another 100 seats and a party room and are developing our catering menu which would include many made-to-order sautee dishes and more complicated items. I think the key is SPACE and proper kitchen planning for such diverse menus. In todays market you have to go after every food dollar not just every pizza dollar…if there is a niche availbe in your market why not…then again you have to set some limits (even though Mexican is tempting :wink: )

This subject presents quite dilemma for many operators…With competition and a shrinking demand due to the economy many have to expand their menus to keep the volume high enough to turn a profit and feed the family…I think if you are caught between a “rock and a hard place”, you have to give serious consideration to expanding your menu…

Like most of you I struggle with menu expansion. My menu is very basic pizza, oven baked wings, and calzones. I kick around the idea of adding pasta.

I remember when Little Caesars use to offer pasta, delivery, and different size of pizzas. I think that was the beginning of their troubles in the 80s and of course the growth of PaPa John’s. Little Caesars is now making a huge comeback with a very basic idea a large cheese or pepperoni pizza for $5. Sure, the pizza is not the greatest but they have a simple concept that requires less labor, no deliveries, few phone calls, etc…

I often wonder if I should open a carryout store that offered only large pizzas, of course only one crust, - $10 large pizza tax included, get whatever you want on it.

I think that one thing that seems to get lost here on this board…is that much of what is thought to be the proper practice is based on the person who is sharing it local market…I do not think there is a one size fits all answer…When I joined this board a few weeks ago…I got taken to task for suggesting a smaller menu that offers a “better” Pizza…I am more convinced of this today than before that it is the right thing for me and MY MARKET…but as Resort Pizza shares it would be the absolute wrong thing for him…I have found another location that based on its current set up lends itself to larger menu that offers lunch service not something that I had originally thought of at another location…I think sometimes its smart to remember who your customer is, your market is and where you fit in the market…A large menu is certainly right for some but would do others in…

I think George’s question was specifically for DELCO’s. Famouspizza, you’re certainly no where near a DELCO. And eventhough resortpizza is, his other business adds a completely different dimension.

My new store seats over 100 and will certainly have a more expansive menu than just pizza; but that’s an entirely different concept than a DELCO. Even still, my menu is still all Italian based and designed to compliment my pizza selections. I’ll leave the BBQ ribs and burgers to their respective experts.

Picture for a moment that the mexican restaurant down the street from you just started selling pizza…

Keep thinking about it for one more second…

Ok, what was the first impression that came to your mind? Did you have a positve or negative feeling regarding the quality of their pizza? Does the idea of a Mexican restaurant making Italian-American style pizza make you want to drive right down there?

Do you think their pizza will be better than yours? How could it be, they don’t know anything about making pizza like you do! Are you thinking, “what the h@ll does a Mexican restaurant know about making a great pizza?”

I’m positive nobody reading this had a favorable reaction to the possibilty of a good pizza coming out of a Mexican restaurant. Why wouldn’t your customers think the same thing about your pizza place that is suddenly a rib joint as well?

That indeed is the problem Paul - where do you draw the line? I’m no where as busy as your store & have 2x the space, so I don’t have some of the problems you might have in adding new items…

Plus, as a frustrated graphic designer, I can change my menus quite quickly and the POS as well, so as I stumble thru my 1st year, I have the option to “turn on a dime” so to speak…

As a matter of fact, I just tweaked the current menu to speed up the make line…my subs are not subway style, but use all the items off the make line…didn’t used to be that way, but a few changes & its now smoother - no different than adding new pizza choices…

We’ve been doing chicken tenders for years and are reasonably successful in pairing them with a pizza as well as single or family meals…

Doing pastas thru the oven doesn’t seem to slow done the make line either, but again, most/nearly all items are cross utilized several times…

I have reached the limit, in my mind, to have enough options to satisfy any caller w/o sacrificing speed on the line or telephone/deliver time…

But I must constantly keep my self in check as I grow this opportunity, else I’ll begin serving mexican food too

I think certain comfort foods work for a pizza delco. My shop is called Panoli’s Pizzeria & Rotisserie the rotisserie chicken is Swiss/Italian and the ribs, well chicken and ribs are a beautiful pairing. We opened with this large menu and concept and we claim to have the best chicken and ribs in town and we do of course, I think if marketed properly a delco can do all sorts of menu items that will fit in a established theme for a restaurant if done properly. I agree mexican and pizza together may be a stretch but a dual theme may work for that concept, who knows. I was planning a dual concept for that exact mix but it was for a 80 seat restaurant that was already Mexican, I was going to cut the restaurant in half that would have shared the same kitchen.

When introducing new menu items, marketing and product branding will play a large roll and the new items have to be really really good, the customer has to be wowed or all will be lost.

We took over our shop and kept the same menu items. The previous owner added some lines as this is what he gave his kids while they were at the shop when his wife worked nights. We went with them until we saw what sold and what didn’t. We dropped his chicken nuggets and chips, chicken wings and vegetarian lasagne.

Next thing to go was nachos, but these soon came back on as all of a suuden they became popular :shock:

We run a wide range of signaure pizzas, 6 pastas with 4 sauce choices, meat based lasagne, garlic bread, ribs, wedges and nachos. We did do lamb shanks until we couldn’t source supply of the type we were doing anymore so they were dropped. Of all the lines nachos are the ones that are are pain in the butt (but high profit). Every time we go to drop then from the menu they get a popualrity run.

I have read experts who write that pastas should not be done in pizza shops if they are not up to restuarant quality. Ours are par cooked then frozen in portion packs - both pasta and sauces - and then sauces are heated in the microwaves and pastas finished cooking in boiling water. We sell heaps but hey they are no way to restuarant quality but they are far from being rubbish as well. We use quality pre-made filled pastas and an excellent sauce. The supplier has won numerous food supply awards and supply the same goods to restuarants.

The menu we have has just enough lines to supplement pizzas when people want a change of fare. Subs, chicken etc I leave to the ones who specialise in them (KFC, Chicken Treat, Subway etc) just like they don’t do pizzas or pastas.

Then there are others who only do pizza and garlic breads, others do a full itailan menu and others who chop and change.

Meeting your market is the way to go. I know lower socio-economic around here where they just want pizzas at a cheap price and wouldn’t know what tortelini or cappeletti was let alone even pronouncing agnolotti. They just want simple basic food - pizzas from PH or Domino’s, burgers from McD, chicken from KFC or Chicken Treat etc.

We are in a mid to high socio-economic area where they want different tastes and that is why we have pastas and a huge range of gourmet pizzas. Each to their own.



I think it is a matter of striking a balance between not losing your identity and chasing the mighty food dollar while utilizing ingredients that can be cross utilized. I was tempted to add " & Grill " when we expanded our menu, but just kept it " Pizza " for that reason. Only downside is that after 4 yrs of an expanded menu you would be suprised at how may people still say “you guys do burgers” only after they see us walking by to bring to a table.

We have made it work, but it is not easy to serve a large dining room with the phone ringing and deliveries flying out the door.

PS Dine-In has always been our smallest segment so that still makes us a Del-Co with a large dining room :wink:

Great, now I can’t get a large deep-dish enchilada pizza out of my mind! :smiley:

We’re struggling with this very decision ourselves. My original intent was to find a decent building in our small town on our “main drag” and put in a small del/co, a simple counter-oven-table affair. When that storefront proved non-existant we started looking at leasing ajoining strip-mallish storefronts, now that’s morphed into taking over a long-time beautiful facility that has been a “sports bar” for 20 plus years but closed several months back when the folks that took it over from it’s originator figured out it meant actually working.

My problem is discerning the whole process though. We’re now up from a walk up counter to a 3200 sq ft. 128 seat restaurant and bar. My menu has expanded from the deep-dish and the tossed pies with oven baked subs, to include 3 pastas, salads, soups, and with the grill and friers well, burgers and stuff.

Now I’m forced to pull back, redraft the whole business plan and refocus my research. I still have the bank support that I would need, but I have to take a day or two and see if I have “my” support still. But that said, my Plan B is a bit fuzzy.

Busiest pizza shop in Quincy, IL is an long time pizza store " Gem City Pizza" with mexican menu also. Fri and Sat nights have over an hour wait to be seated… best of all it’s worth the wait!

Years ago there was a restaurant in south florida with the slogan “coldest beer and best burgers”. They probably sat 150 people or so and if you didn’t get there by 5:30 pm you might have to wait in line close to an hour to get a seat. There whole menu was on a table tent. Burgers, wings dogs. You couldn’t even get french fries. But man they had some great burgers. It was almost worth the 250 mile drive just to get a burger. Every time I was down that way I went out of the way to stop in. Well this company has expanded. More locations, bigger menu. I think they have something like 15 locations, and their menu is everything you would imagine a sports bar would have. The burger is good but just not like it used to be.

 I have a friend who sells an incredibly broad menu in his pizza place.  He knocks them dead and does approximately 300k/month in sales out of 1 location!  I choose to keep my menu much simpler and in the day when we sold nothing but pizza and soft drinks have sold and delivered over 8000 16" pizzas in a week.  Both concepts can work but I believe the more you add to your menu, the less you focus on your pizza.  The guy with a full menu CAN NOT give the service I can give with an extremely simple menu.  Neither one is the right answer for everyone.  Decide who you want to be.

 Whenever I see the "big three" adding to their menu I smile.  The more they add, the less they can focus on their pizza.  Anyone have one of their pizzas lately? :D

humm I have read something very similar to that somewhere before…I totally agree with you…What works for some is not going to be the answer for all…You have know who you want to be, who you are and how are you representing that to the customer. I am blown away by the shops around me who are not a chain and appear to have no dress code at all… A simple uniform of colored t-shirt and dark pants can work.

I think you are so right about the chains…Who wants a desert from one of them…It just does not work for me…