This is the fourth in a multi-part series that shows you step-by-step how to plan, start, and grow your pizzeria business

IMG_0472Now that you’ve identified your mission and goals, you need to define your pizzeria concept so you can fulfill your mission and achieve your goals. Your previous brainstorming plays a large role in your concept, since elements such as your mission statement and brand are the foundations of your company. Defining your concept takes these ideals one step further by guiding how they’ll be manifested in your day-to-day operations. The following lists several questions you need to answer in order to define your concept.

What will you serve?

As a pizzeria, your menu is paramount; this holds true whether you’re baking franchise-supplied pizzas or developing your own unique recipes. You must decide:

  • Will you serve pizza only, or other menu items such as subs, wings, or salads?
  • Will you be creating your own recipes?
  • Where will you source ingredients from? Locally?
  • Will you serve beverages? Alcoholic or non-alcoholic only?
  • What is the “hook” for your menu? That is to say, what sets it apart from your competitors?

At Detroit Style Pizza Co., we serve an Authentic Detroit Style Pizza made from our World Championship recipe. What will your menu be known for? Does it fit your brand? Since we’re focused on Detroit Style Pizza, for example, it wouldn’t be wise to serve a Chicago style pizza at our establishments.

What is your atmosphere, or space? How will you serve customers?

One of the biggest decisions you can make during this phase is whether you’ll be a small carryout-only pizzeria, a full-service restaurant, or something in between. You need to consider how you’ll serve customers: fast casual, delivery, or dine-in? Will you be open for lunch? Consider your level experience versus the risk you’re prepared to take on. If you have relatively little pizzeria experience but dream of owning a large, full-service, dine-in restaurant, you might want to start off small and grow your business over time. The larger your space, the larger your menu, and the more staff you have, the greater your overhead and the greater your risk. Via 313, an award-winning pizzeria in Austin, Texas (and Authentic Detroit Style Pizza Makers), started off in a trailer. They weren’t able to attract the investors they needed to start a full-service restaurant, so they started small – yet were able to earn national media coverage. Via 313 became very popular and recently opened its first full-service restaurant; something they might not have been able to do if they hadn’t started small. Often, it’s best to do a handful of things really well rather than try to do everything, especially at the outset.

Can you execute your concept?

Budget and revenue concerns are primary, but so is execution. You might have the greatest pizza recipe in the world, but if it takes you two hours to make it you won’t have a successful pizzeria. Be sure to carefully consider your menu items and recipes, then conduct trial runs from an operational standpoint. Make sure you can efficiently execute your concept – that your prep isn’t too complicated or would otherwise cause a hitch in operations – so you can run a profitable pizzeria. A final word: A common practice is to focus your concept on your community. Make it local and relevant to your customers, and they’ll want to give you a fair try. Based in Metro Detroit, our Authentic Detroit Style Pizza concept makes sense; Via 313 derives its name from a well-known Detroit area code. Even though they’re in Austin, showcasing their roots both aligns with their brand and demonstrates their community spirit. Other examples include Loui Loui’s in Louisville, Kentucky, and 600 Downtown in Bellefontaine, Ohio, which is named for its street address.