New DELCO by Pizza business virgins! What do you think?

Hey everybody, allow me to introduce myself! My wife and I are opening up a DELCO pizza business in the very near future. We’ve both been wanting to get into this industry as we’re both big time pizza lovers. We both don’t have any experience in the pizza industry, but have plenty of experience/education in businesses. We started and own a wholesale distribution business currently, not related to the food industry. So we’re pizza business virgins, but this is what we have:

LOCATION - Our location has a population of 160,000 ppl within a 3 mile radius, and 370,000 ppl within 5 miles. Thousands of units of apartment complexes and homes are near us. There are many small businesses & retail shops within a mile as well. The shop is located in a strip plaza on a street with 15,000 cars daily traffic. 1000sf shop with equipment in it (pizza oven, prep tables, dough mixer, 3 compartment sink, etc)

MARKETING - For marketing, this is what we plan on doing -

  • doorhangers, flyers mailed to residences within a 1 mile radius to begin with
  • social networking sites
  • website with online ordering
  • hand delivering flyers to nearby small businesses to employees
  • sign holder on the street in front of the shop
  • we’ll also be target marketing to nearby schools, hotels, clubs, small-medium businesses, with appropriate methods.

COMPETITION - Within a 1.5 - 2 mile radius, there’s a PH, and a couple dine in pizza restaurants.

CONCEPT - We’ll be offering 14" jumbo slices for lunch, 11am-4pm, coupled with a drink and a dipping sauce. During the rest of the hours, we’ll be offering only large (14") and X-Large (18") pizzas. Instead of picking a set menu (since we don’t have too much experience), we’ll design our pricing/menu structure to encourage our customers to pick toppings of their own choice (2 topping, 3 topping, 4 topping etc), but at reasonable prices (according the the income levels here and competition’s pricing).

NOW THE MAIN PART and the toughest part! the supplies to our recipe! - I’ve been doing lots of research on this forum, and have gained extremely valuable knowledge from all of you! Thank you all very much and I’m very appreciative of everything you all have given based on your experience. We are looking into Bellissimo Foods who have a distributor here in our state. Are they a good source of high quality products? What about Sysco? Please help us out with sourcing suppliers with high quality ingredients!

Since we don’t know much about mixing dough etc, we’ll be looking to start with a flour-mix to mix with water etc, at our place, to produce fresh dough. Sauce wise, we’re thinking of a canned tomato product, and mix in our own ingredients in it. Toppings wise, we’re thinking to start with unprocessed vegetable toppings, and use a supplier for the meat toppings.

We’re looking to gain more knowledge from the pizza all-stars here! Any and all input and constructive criticism will be appreciated! Please tell us what you think of our situation and what we’re doing?

I originally started my store like this, but it didn’t work and I had to add “specialty” pizzas after about six months. People hate having to make decisions, and the let us know in just about as many words. I would consider having some preset specialties on the menu and slight discounts to the topping-by-topping menu price.

Aside from customer perspective, specialties allow you more control over your margin. While they sell at a discount, you design them to generate more contribution margin (in dollar terms) than the customer would order on their own.

As for your distributor, we have been using Sysco in at least some capacity since we opened. Now, there’s a whole lot to get into there as far as pricing, other vendors, shopping, etc, that you’ll need to learn. But as far as your question, can you get high quality ingredients from Sysco, the answer is yes. Sysco can sometimes get a bad rap as they are perceived to sell processed garbage food, but they have just as good of lines of high quality fresh commodities as well. I’m not saying they will have the best quality for everything (they don’t) but they have the lines there.

As for your dough, what do you mean by using a “flour-mix” to start? That’s what dough is. How does this differ from making it yourself? If you are purchasing some kind of pre-mixed bag of flour ingredients I would say you might as well just do it from scratch. Proper dough making does seem like it’s pretty close to rocket science sometimes, but most of us here do it just fine.

Hi Piper…thanks for your input! Your advice on preset specialties along with slight discounts for the toppings-by-toppings choice menu makes sense to me. I will definitely start looking into creating a menu with more specialties to choose from.

“Aside from customer perspective, specialties allow you more control over your margin. While they sell at a discount, you design them to generate more contribution margin (in dollar terms) than the customer would order on their own.”

^ This is a great point, I didn’t think of that!

We’ll also get in touch with Sysco to look into what kind of products vs price they have to offer. What do you think about Bellissimo Foods?? Have you heard anything about them?

We use a small regional food distributor that carries Bellissimo. We use their cheese and pepperoni and it’s pretty good quality. I’ve even had a retired food distributor who is a Grande die-hard who says the cheese I use tastes just as good.

[size=7]F[/size] sysco

Bellismo makes a good crumbled sausage for pizza topping.

Some thoughts…
Make dough yourself. You can A) mix that bs flour and water or B) mix flour,water,salt and yeast and have a great dough. Try Lehmans dough recipe, if it aint working, post a question for him. He will definately help you. Hes the real deal.

Sauce- call Stanislauss. Tell them you want a rep at your store. They will bring you every can they produce. You can mix a little this…a little that…Some fresh basil…you get the point.

Cheese- dont talk about it here. Go find something you like and stick with it.


Before I replied, I decided to indulge myself with another 30 minutes of FAQ reading - its always refreshing, and I really miss j_rr0K’s contributions!! Anyway, I suggest you go there and spend as long as it takes, reading from top to bottom, twice if necessary, and then table your questions.

the toughest part! the supplies to our recipe!
<— You’ve no clue! Your preliminary information, numbers and such, don’t really add up: only 1 PH and a couple of indies for a DENSE population of 300K+??? You may be staring at a DELCO goldmine, but why was the place empty with existing pizza equipment???

You stated you run a (successful) business already, so I’m sure you’ll be more thorough in your investigation of this venture.

Hi pizzalicious

How long was the shop you are considering in business?

As a new operator you will be required to bring the shop up to conform with the latest Building and Health Department codes. Codes are constantly being changed and up dated.

Don’t let anyone tell you anything will be grand fathered in. As a new owner you will be subject to the latest codes and rules.

George Mills

Hi Pizzalicious:

I forgot to suggest that you should arrange for a pre purchase inspection by the Building, Health and Fire Marshals Departments to determine what you will be required to do to get an occupancy permit.
George Mills

If I can be so bold, I think you should focus on your concept a bit more. I know you’ve put a lot more work into this than you let on in your post, but it sounds like you should:

  1. Focus on pizza! What makes you different than PH? Ingredients? Type of dough? Portions? Specialty toppings? Cheese blend? Will you use raw meat toppings or pre-cooked? Can you source some local products (like sausage)? Pizza is your core product and you need to make it stand out! If you have not already, hang out at and learn from DIYers about all the different styles and variations of pizza. Definitely talk to every distributor, accumulate price lists, and get samples. Escalon and Stanislaus will both send you samples as well as help with recipes. Cheese companies will do the same and will often assist with paying for flyers or menus.

  2. Marketing - in my opinion, step 1 of marketing is building your image. Your name and logo should have coherence throughout your signage, flyers, menus, etc. You want an identity that makes people ask if you are a chain. Don’t let your cousin Jim who got an A in art class design your logo. Check out logotournament or similar sites for a low cost way to get a great identity.

  3. Market NOW. Get out in the community and ask people what they want. Any festivals coming up? Set up a booth and get a customer list going - offer free breadsticks for an e-mail address. Talk to people. You can even go as far as to conduct a focus group. We held 3 sessions of focus and ordered pizzas from 2 of our competitors for each one and pitted ours against theirs. It’s all about getting people to open up and talk about what they want in the community. And protect your

Are you going to use a POS? That can be a lot of research and a lot of money. Search the threads around here for some really good discussions. Most will say that some form of POS is imperative.

And making dough is not that difficult. It takes some practice and care but after a few days, it become systematic.

And George is right. Depending on your city, the cost to bring the building to code can be quite high. For instance, some cities require pizza ovens (in certain situations) to be under a type 1 hood. Assuming your hood can even be piped for ansel, you will b stunned how expensive that one little piece of equipment will set you back…

Good luck and keep plugging away!

Patrick Cuezze

Hello Everyone…thanks for the input again. Been very busy the past few days, didn’t get a chance to reply to everyone on here. Just to update, we’ve signed the lease for this new delco and have occupancy of it. Today, we had the front area 70’s era tiles removed and new natural slate installed. Meanwhile, we’ve also met with a couple suppliers, and are setting up to meet them at the store to taste their products. People in neighboring businesses have found out we’re moving in and seem to be excited from it. Have to go right now, but will be back soon to update more!