Pizzeria-Specific Start-Up Mentoring / Help Resources?

Hi all,

Been lurking and searching for a while and decided to post.

We recently moved from LA (I’m a NJ native ) to SW Missouri to be closer to (wife’s ) family, own a home, etc… The move wasn’t without some hesitation however, as there is a substantial lack of amenities to which we’ve both become accustomed living in cities/places with distinct and firm cultural heritages and the businesses that form from them. Before moving, we half joked that we’d have to create the things that we wanted that weren’t already here. Pretty sure I took that half-joke a bit too seriously.

Fast forward and I find myself ready for a career change (my work has fallen off drastically since the move) and I’m stuck on the idea of creating that which I miss the most since the move: a small, unpretentious, dine-in, NP-ish pizzeria with a menu of small plates pulled from my family recipes, friends, travels, etc… plus beer+wine and a small dry goods section carrying domestic and imported products that aren’t yet available here (but, for which distribution exists).

As someone who has always been surrounded by many pizza options, the scene here (for me) is bleak. Thankfully, there’s a young couple who started slinging decent NY style rounds and sfincione on the weekends, there’s a decent tavern style spot that’s been open since the 50’s, but aside from them and a big slice shop that reminds me of south Jersey, that’s it.

When it comes to WF/NP… Aside from a farm that has 2 handmade ovens that have pizza nights once a month during the warmer months (that are always sold out) and a distillery with a wood fired outside of town a ways, there isn’t a single NP style pie or oven within about a 2+ hour drive (Kansas City, St Louis, and perhaps NW Arkansas being the closest). So, there seems to be an opportunity. And challenges galore.

I’ve fleshed out menus, basic operations, location options (massive challenge), market potentials and risks, etc…, I’ve gotten my dough down to a baseline “good” that I’d be proud to sell while continuing to improve, make dough, bread, and pies weekly and have gotten positive local feedback from friends and neighbors… basically all the fun stuff.

I’m now at the point of turning all the fun planning into numbers to flesh out whether it’s a viable idea. I’m wanting to create business plans for 2 different concepts: the brick & mortar and a fall-back, mobile option which would require (I think) less overhead and more exit options should it tank. And I’m getting stuck / running up against my knowledge walls, stalling, and wanting/needing help.

I currently utilize these forums, the Pizzamaking forums, read the industry publications, have and continue to listen to interviews with pizzeria owners, have consulted my personal friends in the industry (none pizza specific, but pizza adjacent-cheese, farms, wine, management), but am realizing I need more shop-owner specific assistance with dialing in the costs, realities, challenges of opening a brick and mortar (or mobile).

Ideally, I’d be able to stage with someone who operates in a fashion I’d like to model, but can’t for geographic (see above) as well as familial/logistical reasons.

I’m aware of the SCORE business mentorship programs, but none of the folks in my area have any hospitality experience let alone independent pizzeria experience. I’m also aware of Perfecting Pizza, but haven’t yet pulled the trigger as I’m unsure if I’m far enough along in the planning. And asking all of my questions on the forum seems will only get me so far (I’ve done a good deal of searching PM’s forums which have been a wealth of info) and may also get annoying to the other members.

I’ve come to be aware of and love how helpful the pizza community is/seems to be. But, considering I’m still aspiring, I’m dealing with a bit of imposter syndrome.

As shop owners, if someone like me called you up or walked in your door and asked if he could pick your brain about the business (considering he’d not be local competition), would you give him time or tell him to take a hike? For those of you currently in business / have been in business, how’d you get started/what resources helped you with financial projections, mentorship, etc…?

This is worth a look. I am going to buy one that is operating below its potential. It doesnt have a bad rap just not geared up to take advantage of the location.
It needs a marketing and strategy change. I have been around this biz, never in it but, I read some about products and cost etc and improving production is my strong suit and we can do anything tech in house (will bring wire and pipe this morning etc) rev and remod at our cost/time.
Since this is a competitive biz I am not worrying at this point about sauce cost very much, everyones cost is similar and now looking to see how much I can buy vs make from scratch to reduce labor, we are looking at workers (we do this with other biz) and 1 really good is 3x as good as 2 not so much and maybe more. We will tune schedule and reduce some if we have to before we will expand and try to play catch up.
We will go up, no dollar menu, will make something on the 2 I sell vs trying to margin 5 or 10 and am highest price on other stuff in my area and at markets and can sell in a market at 4 while the guy next to me gets 3.
When I go to events am willing to pay 2 or 3 more for good, I never buy from the dollar menu, I know people that do but I am targeting working/travel pros that a 5$ difference in a stop isnt a deal breaker.

If you buy rather than make, you are Dominos. If your are really busy you need bodies. Sometimes that means less than really good employees

I happened to eat at one the other day uses a ready made frozen crust. I was really curious about that. I am a topping person, cant put enuff stuff on one for me. I am not a real “pizza” person. I like it with lots of stuff but not sure I could tell much about 1 crust from another as a customer. There is probably better bread than a Subway but I am totally fine with a toasted sandwich from there. That is from my customer viewpoint.
I will have some “destination” people but creating another market for people need it and going to feature a few decent vs a lot of cheap and going to work on fast for part of the menu that it doesnt have now. (remodel) is a strong suit we have).
I am willing to send the shopper to get good and as much ready made as we can. The current owner uses a premium burger, the cost is 60 cents more but so ready to go. I am willing to trade some food cost for some labor at this point. I ate a frozen burrito thing from somewhere a while back and it was pretty good.