Will people pay for a better pizza

Hello All,

Looking to get into the Pizza Business (worked in it 25 years ago)…My plan is this…In my area there are no stand out pizzarias …My plan is for a small…take out / delivery…limited seating place…in my direct area there the chains and a couple of mediocre indies…None are a place that makes you think of them when you want good pizza…There is no go to Pizza place for top shelve pizza…I do not want to get into the coupon wars but instead offer better pizza…Yes I know its subjective…but in reality most know when something is better when it truly is…so will people pay a few bucks more for the better stuff…I am in very family neighborhood… target area has 20,000 homes in a 3 miles radius of location I am considering…Thank for your thoughts…

Hi, I have applied that exact theory to any business I have been involved with. It has worked for me. However, if you set up in a town that is being heavily impacted ( high unemployment etc) by the current economy you may have a tough go. Conversely, set up in a prosperous area and you will kick butt. Nice thing about selling a higher end product is you are never competing with the guys who have to give there product away (coupon or specials) to make sales. You just have to make sure it really is a higher quality product. Sell the quality, not the price.
Trust me, you DO NOT want the coupon customer. You’ll only see them when they have a coupon or you have some ridiculous half price Tuesday promo on. They never call on a Saturday and order two loaded large with some wings and a six pack of coke!! I know this for a fact…
First thing I did when I bought my little take out/delivery store was to track the “specials” customers. Next thing I did was to eliminate any discount for pick up, all “specials” , in fact any form of discount. Then I put the prices up. Within two months my volume of orders was down 25%. My net bottom line was up approx the same. Yeah, you got it, “coupon Charlie” and “special Bertha” had quit calling. Less work, more profit.

Generally, no.

It certainly depends on the demographics of your market…In most of my area it would be tough slugging…How ever when I look to few smaller towns around me, I think it would be possible…So you need to do some research…And research is not an exact science…

Thanks for the responses…in my area in normal times average household income is about 80 grand a year…loads of family’s…two churches that are a block apart have attendance of 5000 people on a Sunday but housing has been hurt…my thought is we may have more families now where both spouses are having to work and the need for more meals outside of the home may happen…I only want to target 2 zip codes so focus marketing is much easier…my town has 7 zip codes in it…

I’ll pass you the saga of a fellow named Terry Deane who opened a new pizza place in British Columbia in the middle of the recession last December. You can see he’s a real fanatic:

I am a chef and pizzaiolo that has recently moved back to BC and am opening a pizzeria in Abbotsford. It is called AH-BEETZ and it is the only authentic New York style pizza in BC. I use a wild yeast culture for my dough in lieu of commercial yeast and the freshest/best ingredients available to me. I use BC made Scardillo mozzarella(which is the best and freshest you can find), BC milled flour, pepperoni & chorizo made just for me by a great BC sausage maker and my own house made Italian fennel sausage. Nothing is ever frozen! Actually, thefirst thing I did when I bought the place was throw out the freezer. The dough is made with a 2 day cold/slow rise technique and a wild yeast culture which greatly increases the flavor and complexity of the crust. The pizzas are baked directly on the hearth of the oven at high temperatures to achieve the appropriate char on the crust. I am also doing a couple of salads including my own caesar which does not lack of garlic and anchovy and chicken wings. Fresh wings, not the frozen wings that most of BC’s restaurants serve. Real Buffalo sauce , made with real butter and Frank’s Red Hot! The way the original Buffalo wing was made.

He got a nice write up[/url] in the local paper, and then by March 2, a [url=http://www2.canada.com/vancouversun/news/business/story.html?id=3658e354-af2f-49ff-a7f4-1da520c19fe2&k=89162]write-up in the big-city paper.

We had another article written about us, this time in The Vancouver Sun. It has had a dramatic effect on business. We are so busy now that I am unable to keep up and we have sold out of dough for 5 straight days. I think I’ll have to get a bigger mixer soon. Has anyone had any experience with spiral mixers?

Quality does and can sell, but publicity helps too.

Those kinds of stories are great to read, however, there is nothing that says he is actually making money…So it is still very important to do your research…Good luck…

I think what the story shows…is that quality does still sell…I think much of it no matter what you are wanting to do…comes down to marketing and knowing who your customer is…good stuff no matter the product if put into peoples hands…( or mouths)…will always be desirable…if its better and it is tangibly better…provided it still holds a perceived value…

Actually, he is doing what Kamron has preached about…that is using adjectives to describe your food. He does a good job of describing the type of pep, chz, sausage, etc…
When writing ad copy and menus…try to input adjectives that allow you to smell and taste the food as you read the description.
Remember, we eat with our eyes.

I think you might have a great location in consideration of appreciation of quality and customer loyalty.

Of many, many things to consider - master your pizza but offer variety. If you are up scale, people appreciate the fresh salads, wraps, egg salad, chicken salad, variety of dressings, grilled sandwiches, burgers, homemade meatballs, freshness in chicken, pure and clean oil…etc… as much as a fantastic pizza. It’s a lot of work and while I respect the opinion of many here that offer the advice not to live in your store, when you run an operation like that, an eye always on everything is critical.

It might take a few months to establish the loyality. Reach out to your community - schools (teacher/business lunches really add up) church functions and town functions. If there is a town/city message board, word of mouth will build quickly.

Good Luck : )


I think I am clear about our location…I am NOT trying to target the city I am in…just my local area which makes up 4 neighborhoods that if you need something this is the center you run to…my thought is… convenience for people who are already there…it puzzles me when I see so many pizza shops on main streets where there is a lot of commerce but not homes…If I was doing a burgers or on the go food I think it makes sense to be in the high flow areas…but for me and PLEASE tell me if I am wrong Pizza is take home food for most…I do have limited seating but the focus is take out and delivery…am I missing something

here are the numbers for my target market, just got them from the city…the actual city has a population of over 300,000…the numbers below are for the zip codes I would service…

2008 Total Population 48,255 .
2013 Total Population 60,636

Median Household Income
2008 $92,653
2013 $112,206

Median Home Value
2008 $486,591
2013 $498,627

While I think these numbers look good…these are really just working families…but it is a family area…big on little league…sports…etc…one nice thing about the area that is unlike where I worked at as a kid is there is no part of town ( area I am serving )…that has any rough spots for delivery…Please if I am missing something please share it with me…again…the major chains are in the shopping center with a couple of indies down the street…but lacking any convenience and none are stand out pizza’s

Normally people will be busy “shopping” in the main streets and will see pizza as an opportunity to not have to cook while they are worn out from work and/or shopping. That is convenient.

OK…so are you saying that on a busy street…they are more likley to pick a pie rather than at a place that is closer to home…

I am talking about a shopping center with grocey as the anchor and not Home Depot …or wal mart…but with the local cleaners…barbers…small pet shops…etc…that service where you live and not where you work or drive…

Its my opinion that if you want to do an upper scale pizza, you should have more than “limited seating”. We are in a highly competitive and dense area and all the “expensive” pizza places have dining. Take-out/delivery is associated more with “cheap” pizza. People are more willing to spend the extra dough when the dining space is available for whole families to enjoy.

There are exceptions to everything, and you can make anything work if done right, but the dining is more appropriate for upper scale/more expensive pizza. If your location is in a highly residential area your dining lunches will probably be minimal but you can pack them in at night and the weekends. You mentioned Little Leagues. Tough to pull that kind of business in with minimal seating.

Mr. Pirate

I agree with what your saying…it would be nice to have more seating…however it has been my experience that people will come or go if the food is good…if you do it better…its better no matter where your sitting…my vision is that to keep small with the focus on quality and service a old “Mom and Pop” feel…

Every time I read the latest newspaper rag about “Best” this or that in town, I am struck by how often the product is not that great despite the majority of people thinking it is “Best”. This restaurant in Fort Worth, Joe T. Garcia’s, is consistently rated as the best Mexican food place. I went there today with my wife since the weather was delightful and she loves the outdoor patio. The food sucks, plain and simple. It tastes like some frozen stuff you would get at the supermarket. But people love the atmosphere, the fact it has been around since the early 1900’s, and the margaritas. They don’t NEED to make better Mexican food because people already percieve it as the best.

So I would not worry about making a superior pizza. Make a decent one that appeals to a wide market segment but figure out how to influence the perceived value of your entire business. People will pay more if they perceive a better value. Value is a mental/emotional calculation of what they pay versus what they feel they got in return. It is almost all subjective and you control the perception.

I agree but it takes just as much work and almost as much money to make so so product as a better one…I think it is the passion and care about the food…the simple thing about using a diffrent oven these days will give you step up…to much these days is what you hear in so many many industries is its good enough…I never thought paying more makes something better…value and being smart and caring go a long way to make something better…

Why do you want a small place with minimal seating? If its because you just don’t want to have to deal with dining that is a different issue. You don’t want the additional overhead or build-out costs?

I’d agree you can still make a got of it, but these are tough times. Restaurants are tough in any time. If I’m going to open a new place, I’m going to have dining, delivery and take-out. Why put a limit on revenue streams?

My friend at pizzamaking.com, Peter directed me to your thread. I would say, make the best pizza you possibly can and people will come. At my place I use the freshest mozzarella I can, usually within a few days of being made and sometimes the same day. I would make it myself, but it is only my wife and I doing everything so it is not possible now. I have my pepperoni and chorizo made for me by a great local sausage maker and I slice them both by hand. I make my own Italian sausage which I grind my own meat for. I make my own dough with a sourdough culture and locally milled flour. I make my own sauce with Stanislaus tomatoes. I use high quality olive oil and fresh basil. This is the best I can do right now but I will continue to try and improve and use even better products when I can. I hope to eventually cure my own meats and make my own cheese and grow my own herbs and vegetables.
Never serve anything you wouldn’t be happy to pay for! That is my motto.