Many people about to embark on the Fast Casual Pizza adventure are wondering should I or shouldn’t I? When asking opinions remember that:
Opinions are like belly buttons-everybody has one so the best advice is to do it your way and follow your own vision. Ultimately you are the person putting in your monies and sweat equity so being the chief cook and bottle washer gives you the final say-good or bad.
A couple things to look at though are as follows:
1) Does your location have enough potential traffic to warrant a fast casual concept? In other words, is it in a place with people that need to eat fast and (usually) inexpensively?
2) Is there a potential for foot traffic and a lunch crowd verses a destination location that people will have to drive up to? If they have to drive to your location, is there ample parking?
3) Is the size of the space conducive to fast casual and laid out to facilitate easy entry? Service? Exit?
4) Do you have the proper oven and recipes for fast production?
5) Is your potential customer base and product in sync?
6) Do you have a trendy design?
7) Is your pizza any good or is just something to fill up on?
8) Is your model workable without wait staff?
If you have already looked at these questions you are way ahead of the game and stand a good chance of competing in the fast casual race. If you haven’t then you may want to consider speaking to someone with experience or going out and making the rounds to see what is and what is not working in different areas and environments. Personally I feel that a quality product delivered in a nice environment by a pleasant, courteous, professional staff will always find an audience if you can promote and survive long enough for word to get out. However most people are looking for the elusive “sure thing” which is mystical and not real because most of the successful places have had huge research, trial and error before they found the “formula” for success. Persistence, hard work and the ability to think and change on your feet will get you far but following what the big boys are doing and have already figured out will eliminate some of the trail and hopefully most of the error. For those about to jump in the arena-I salute you.
Here are some places you may want to visit in your quest and some contacts you may wish to make:
Revolve Pizza, Blaze, Pizza Locale, Spin Neapolitan, Pie Five, Piology, Fired Pie, Fuel Pizza, Goodfella’s Pizza School New York, Cucinova, 800 Degree, Papa Pancho, Pizza Studio and a host of others. The reason I mention Pizza School New York is for those who have no idea about pizza or brick oven pizza and want a first-hand view of a live pizza operation featuring the Mack Daddy of ovens from the NewYork Brick Oven Company for training. Many roads lead to Rome but as any tourist can tell you the easiest and simplest direction is best for strangers. Happy Pizza! May you roll in the dough and enjoy the adventure.