Room for another pizzeria?

I live in Bergen County, NJ. There are so many pizza places around here. Since I’ve been obsessed with making pizza for a few years now, I’ve always thought about opening a pizza place, perhaps using “all natural”, for example not bromated flour, ingredients or possibly even a naturally leavened dough. The reality is that here, it is hard to even find real estate where there is NOT another pizza place within sight distance. I have out of curiosity been viewing commercial rentals and every place I’ve found thus far is within 1/4 mile of a pizza place!!! This is not NYC… just suburbia. I believe my idea is “different” but not sure if is different enough to support a niche market or I don’t know. They are opening an “organic” pizza place in town shortly - http://www.pizzafusion.com/ All of this is really a pipe dream but I like to keep my eyes peeled and generally aware of what is going on with regard to the pizza “market”, new stores around, etc. So is there a way to “test the waters” other than just doing it?

Sure it can be done. I don’t think anyone here would tell you otherwise if you are truly passionate about it. If your area is heavily saturated with a lot of competition and you have never been in the business your odds based on statistics are not good, however.

You’re never going to find a “perfect” situation. There’s always risk in one form or another. I think most here would tell you to find a situation or location that gives you the best chance at succeeding. Do everything you can to increase your chance of success.

While you definitely want to distinquish yourself from the competition, you have to be careful when you become too ground breaking or different because then you have to educate people. Most people just are not into trying new things. They want the familiar and are not inclined to take a chance on something unknown. Your “natural” pizza may be more expensive than other pizzas. Are people going to appreciate it enough to pay extra? Maybe your “natural” pizza is better for you but does not taste as good. Are “enough” people going to sacrifice taste? In any case, you are possibly narrowing your potential market by getting into a “natural” pizza.

I think the number one thing you should do first is go work in a pizza place for awhile. You can answer a lot of your questions there. I’ve been in the restaurant business for over 25 years and jumped into pizza two years ago. There were and are a lot of processes involved in baking and making dough that I am still learning.

As someone who has owned two pizza stores for 9 years now, I can tell you that I woud MUCH rather open in a market like you describe. The various methods of measuring pizza potential with population counts and average sales per consumer per year contain a LOT of voodoo. If there are a bunch of stores earning a living in the area then it is a sure bet that the business is there.

I have always felt that proven opportunity I have to compete for is a better scenario than estimated untapped potential. The bar is not set very high in the pizza world. When there are a bunch of stores it is not hard to better than several of them. The advice given and your own inclination to look for differentiation is a good place to start. That approach provide both differentiation in identity and pricing power.

Think of it like a race with a bear; you do not have to be faster than the bear, just faster than some of the other guys… and the more people in the race the better.

I think another way of saying it is: “Target rich environment” :slight_smile: Rich in terms of potential customer base to raid . . . and in shops to knock off the ladder on the way up.

In your situation, I would think the “voodoo” would be an general indicator of about how many people you need to pass to survive the bear. If you cannot swing a genoa salami for hitting a pizza shop, then there are pizza dollars to be had. A good concept that appeals to enough of the market, adequate financing/capitalization, and an effective marketing plan can entice some good business.