Author Topic: Holy shit we just bought a pizza place....a really old one  (Read 15775 times)

MrsPizzaGeek

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Holy shit we just bought a pizza place....a really old one
« on: April 29, 2014, 06:12:27 PM »
We are taking the leap and I am officially freaking out. Don't get me wrong my husband and I didn't bump into some random guy and decide to throw our hard earned $$ at them blindly...we have been talking about it for years...kind of... It has been my husbands dream to own a pizza restaurant so we have been saving up and paying off debt like crazy in the hopes of "one day" down the road owning our own. In my eyes that was YEARS down the road but apparently its in two days when escrow closes.

Ok enough freaking out, I will be using my income to pay all our bills and fully fund our 401k so I really don't have much to complain about. The books look good, if you are wondering BUT I do have a couple things I DO need to figure out and I thought you all can help. The Restaurant has been in business for 40 years May 1st! Everyone loves it but it lost its luster 35 years ago, when the interior was last updated... The carpet is disgusting, furniture is falling apart, the paint is dark, there are random large farm tools displayed throughout WTH?!? Actually if you want to have a fun read check out Eric A.'s yelp review ... http://www.yelp.com/biz/angelos-pizza-parlor-redding ... OUCH! Everything he says is true unfortunately but Angelos (we are keeping the name) is a community favorite that has a very loyal local clientele.

Moving on to how YOU CAN HELP! We want to take out the nasty carpet and laminate...forty year old laminate....and polish the concrete beneath. Our dilemma is I want to do this ourselves but that means MUCH more time closed. I am having a hard time shelling out money so someone do something I can do! First quote came back $12,000!! You can bet your ass I burned that one. What do you all think, do I do it myself (I haven't ever done this type of thing but I am smart have a ton of family I can bribe with pizza AND I'm good looking so it should be fine... ;P ) We can at least take out the old material and save something! I have 3 other people coming in to quote us on the time and cost but I am a little frazzled after the first one.

Please talk me off the cliff and tell me what you would do. We will be open 7 days a week so its not something we can do while closed although if we contract it out they will do it at night. What do you think about a re-opening 3 months from now when I get a hold of the official books and will feel more comfortable shelling out some cash?

List of items to update
  Hubby to fix tables with laminate glue - cost 20-50 DIY
  Paint and update bathrooms - cost $200 DIY Paper towel dispensers are already up
  Paint the resturant and ceiling - quote was $4000-5000 pizza place is 4000sf this would include all surfaces including doors and trim
  Flooring - Ughh something HAS to be done with the carpet... 3000 to replace carpet plus monthly cleanings 12000.00 to get down to concrete
  Salad bar update - Getting quote from local shop for cover ~600-1200 new refrigerated 4-6000
  Chairs will be fixed by my husband
  Lighting will have to wait I cant think about that or my brain will explode.

We have $10,000 cash we have set aside for updates and, dear god I can't believe Im saying this here (don't kill me!), we can finance another $30k if we need to with FIL for 3.99.

Any ideas? What would you do??

EDIT TO ORIGINAL POST with more details. Because obviously this post isn't long enough to scare off some very helpful people!
Thank you everyone for your replies I really appreciate them...even Gerard! Luckily we live in a small town with a very large support system. My mom and I are very involved in community functions so I think the support will be there for us.

Samburger:
We are working out the DIY cost of the floors but it looks like we can save several thousand dollars off the quote the problem would be that we would be closed longer. We are not marketing the ownership change until our re-launch which is more of a "Farewell Fred" (previously VERY loved owner of 40 years), so the plan is to move in quietly.
 
Dragoncar:
Yes we can section off the Rooms but the person that quoted us said it would take about 2 weeks doing it that way and I worry about serving food where you can have contaminates floating around. My husband is looking in to it with the HD. It is generally slow on Sundays but that is because there is not much marketing right now, since a few people are finding out we are taking over business its has picked up about 10%. If we have to close it will be sunday monday. Yeah we can keep the carpets for another couple months which is the current plan but every time I look at them it steals a little bit of my soul.

wtjbatman:
You nailed it Sunday and mondays are the slowest days on when reviewing the books.

Gerard:
Well nobody ever calls you sunshine do they? :) Nope I love the facepunch I am worried as hell about being the next big failure in my small town, but you don't make your dreams happen by sitting on your ass dreaming about it! My husb has been working the last month going in before the open and cleaning everything, Ive been going in too. Holy crap there is a lot of stuff to clean in that place! We are looking at used salad bars as well the problem is the warranty is almost always expired... I know I know that is what google is for but Angelos is known for its salad bar so that makes me nervous! My husband ran a pizza place for 3 years about 8 years ago, since then we have built and sold 2 successful businesses (how we paid for the pizza place). One of the reasons this is a dream of ours is because he previously owned a car hauler and drove for mercedes (dont worry I drive a camry with 95000 miles on it). He was gone 50% of the time which means he missed WAY too much of our 3 year olds first years. He now gets to drop our son off every morning and come home to put him down, before he runs back in to close. We are very aware of the time committment that is the one thing I am NOT worried about.
Yep been reading everything we can get our hands on for free I might even break down and buy a book a heard about called something like "how to drive your competition crazy" sounds like something I would enjoy!

socaso:
We aren't big TV watchers but I will check it out, thanks for the tip I appreciate it!
« Last Edit: April 29, 2014, 09:27:03 PM by MrsPizzaGeek »

samburger

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Re: Holy shit we just bought a pizza place....a really old one
« Reply #1 on: April 29, 2014, 06:52:16 PM »
Congrats! How exciting.

Can you ballpark the cost of closing to DIY the floors? Can you put a dollar figure on the value of keeping the place open? What's your marketing strategy around the ownership change: Do you want to broadcast it, or do you want service to continue uninterrupted and move in quietly?

The floors are going to be costly, either in time or money, so it sounds like you need to figure the hard costs and opportunity costs involved.

dragoncar

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Re: Holy shit we just bought a pizza place....a really old one
« Reply #2 on: April 29, 2014, 07:03:52 PM »
Random thoughts-

Can you section off a portion and renovate that yourself, then switch?

Is there a slow day like Wednesdays that you can be closed?

Can you delay the carpet for a few months while you figure out your plan and get settled?

wtjbatman

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Re: Holy shit we just bought a pizza place....a really old one
« Reply #3 on: April 29, 2014, 07:07:38 PM »
Is there a slow day like Wednesdays that you can be closed?

I want to emphasize that. A lot of the non-chain pizza joints around here are closed one day a week. I can't assume they are all renovating on that day, but (for example) my favorite pizza place is closed every Monday. I imagine Monday is a slower day in the pizza business anyway.

Gerard

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Re: Holy shit we just bought a pizza place....a really old one
« Reply #4 on: April 29, 2014, 07:08:46 PM »
Hard to say much without knowing more (is the space rented or owned, is it profitable enough to pay back the reno costs quickly, how much of the profit is due to owners/family working for free, are there any satisfied customers other than the ones gorging themselves on cinnamon rolls for eight bucks).
But a few quick thoughts, based on when the place I worked did a full reno:
--you're gonna burn through that 10K in nanoseconds, especially if your suppliers go cash-only because they don't know you. You'll definitely need the further 30K, maybe more.
--ideally you would close down to renovate, and you would do it during the slow season, whenever that is for you. Be careful what you tear up in case you find something truly terrible.
--do what you can yourself or with family... at least you avoid the problem of your reno guys going off halfway through to finish a job for a richer or more influential client.
--set aside enough reno time to clean stuff more than you've ever cleaned anything before. With horrible toxic industrial cleaners and soul-sucking levels of elbow grease. You *cannot* sell yourselves as new and refreshed if what you really mean is "same shithole, now without carpet!" 
--if you have a display menu (on the wall, over the counter, whatever), now would be a great time to replace it. People really notice that. Shorten and simplify what you offer, and consider pictures on the menu or a video screen.
--not quite sure what you're getting for the salad bar, but can you get it used? Big savings buying from, er, the last young couple who decided to open a restaurant. It should be shiny and nice, though. You need at least one thing that returning customers will look at and say "oo!"
--how many years has your husband worked in restaurants before? Are you both cool with the HUGE time commitment?
Sorry to be such a bringdown. I read back over what I've written and even *I* don't like myself. But I think a clear-eyed start is really important. I assume there are decent books about how to do this, that you've been reading over the years?

socaso

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Re: Holy shit we just bought a pizza place....a really old one
« Reply #5 on: April 29, 2014, 08:18:38 PM »
I don't think you should do a re-launch until you can do it properly. Do you ever watch Kitchen Nightmares? Admittedly it's a glossy version of saving a restaurant but there are some good tips in there and a lot of times when I see the dining area makeover there are good ideas that could be DIY-ed. It's great that you are buying a place with a loyal clientele. What if you incorporate them into the re-launch process? Perhaps you have a few new items you want to add to the menu and a few old items you'd like to get rid of. Maybe you invite some longtime customers for a private event in which you serve the items and get their feedback about what they like. Maybe you can try to see if you can get a collection of photos from the customers of them and their families enjoying meals in your restaurant over the years and you use these photos in the décor or in a new website. I'm assuming you are planning to update the website. Your old school patrons probably don't care but the younger ones will and you have to keep the fresh customers coming through the door.

I would feel overwhelmed in your shoes but it sounds like this is a long held dream for you and I wish you the best.


MrsPizzaGeek

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Re: Holy shit we just bought a pizza place....a really old one
« Reply #6 on: April 29, 2014, 09:35:44 PM »
Hey All,
I updated the original novel with the answers to what I could think of. So far we have got the following:

10,000 isn't nearly enough :)
Don't go cheap, do it right the first time
Do it yourself when possible

Oh forgot to post about the website, we have a vendor doing it for free! The menus too. Heres a link to the current website...haha I told you it is old school! http://www.angelospizzaredding.com/ Does that make your stomach hurt too??

We are also removing a booth and adding a kids area. Losing 6 seats=parents able to eat and drink in peace. A little TV and chalkboard walls and we are good to go, anyone with a young kid will understand that!

Also I am a computer geek so we will be adding free wifi and any other techy thing we can incorporate.

Anyone want to come to Redding for a little DIY session and free pizza?? There could even be a beer or two in it for you!

MrsPizzaGeek

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Re: Holy shit we just bought a pizza place....a really old one
« Reply #7 on: April 29, 2014, 09:43:51 PM »
Hard to say much without knowing more (is the space rented or owned, is it profitable enough to pay back the reno costs quickly, how much of the profit is due to owners/family working for free, are there any satisfied customers other than the ones gorging themselves on cinnamon rolls for eight bucks).
But a few quick thoughts, based on when the place I worked did a full reno:
--you're gonna burn through that 10K in nanoseconds, especially if your suppliers go cash-only because they don't know you. You'll definitely need the further 30K, maybe more.
--ideally you would close down to renovate, and you would do it during the slow season, whenever that is for you. Be careful what you tear up in case you find something truly terrible.
--do what you can yourself or with family... at least you avoid the problem of your reno guys going off halfway through to finish a job for a richer or more influential client.
--set aside enough reno time to clean stuff more than you've ever cleaned anything before. With horrible toxic industrial cleaners and soul-sucking levels of elbow grease. You *cannot* sell yourselves as new and refreshed if what you really mean is "same shithole, now without carpet!" 
--if you have a display menu (on the wall, over the counter, whatever), now would be a great time to replace it. People really notice that. Shorten and simplify what you offer, and consider pictures on the menu or a video screen.
--not quite sure what you're getting for the salad bar, but can you get it used? Big savings buying from, er, the last young couple who decided to open a restaurant. It should be shiny and nice, though. You need at least one thing that returning customers will look at and say "oo!"
--how many years has your husband worked in restaurants before? Are you both cool with the HUGE time commitment?
Sorry to be such a bringdown. I read back over what I've written and even *I* don't like myself. But I think a clear-eyed start is really important. I assume there are decent books about how to do this, that you've been reading over the years?

Space is leased 10-5-5, the current owner only comes in to make deposits so we will save money with my husb being in there 60+ hours a week... hey the cinnamon rolls are GOOD! Yeah there are a lot of great customers we are very luck to have the opportunity to take over this place. It is one of big landmarks in downtown redding.

iamlindoro

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Re: Holy shit we just bought a pizza place....a really old one
« Reply #8 on: April 29, 2014, 10:39:59 PM »
Moving on to how YOU CAN HELP! We want to take out the nasty carpet and laminate...forty year old laminate....and polish the concrete beneath.

Laminate, or linoleum?  I ask because decent laminate wood-like floors can be had very cheap and put up with a lot of abuse... and you could even install it over the carpet.

http://www.projectsatoz.com/info-library/restaurant-project-plan-info-library/restaurant-design-budget-concerns-restaurant-flooring-ideas.html

Edit to add:  My dog is from Redding :)
« Last Edit: April 29, 2014, 10:50:00 PM by iamlindoro »

MrsPizzaGeek

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Re: Holy shit we just bought a pizza place....a really old one
« Reply #9 on: April 30, 2014, 10:02:17 AM »
Moving on to how YOU CAN HELP! We want to take out the nasty carpet and laminate...forty year old laminate....and polish the concrete beneath.

Laminate, or linoleum?  I ask because decent laminate wood-like floors can be had very cheap and put up with a lot of abuse... and you could even install it over the carpet.

http://www.projectsatoz.com/info-library/restaurant-project-plan-info-library/restaurant-design-budget-concerns-restaurant-flooring-ideas.html

Edit to add:  My dog is from Redding :)

Yep I meant linoleum thanks for catching that. And thanks for the video I will watch it when I get off work!

PS your dog is very cute, and comes from good stock if its from Reddin'

dragoncar

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Re: Holy shit we just bought a pizza place....a really old one
« Reply #10 on: April 30, 2014, 11:18:34 AM »
Crap, I was in Redding a while ago and I didn't go to this awesome pizza place?  Boo. 

Sorry I don't have much advice since I know nothing about any of this, but I'm very interested in hearing how things go.  Please keep us updated even if the advice dries out.  You might consider blogging your progress with pictures (I'd read that blog).

I kinda have a dream to own a pizza place, but it's just one of those pipe dreams as I've never even worked at one and probably wouldn't want to deal with staffing, cleaning, etc.  I just imagine the employees eat a lot of pizza :-P

skunkfunk

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Re: Holy shit we just bought a pizza place....a really old one
« Reply #11 on: April 30, 2014, 12:10:48 PM »
Are you paying someone to paint? If so, why?

The_Dude

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Re: Holy shit we just bought a pizza place....a really old one
« Reply #12 on: April 30, 2014, 01:39:55 PM »
when I get a hold of the official books and will feel more comfortable shelling out some cash?

Uh... what??  Why would you be scheduled to close escrow before you ever got a hold of the "official" books?  Why are their more than one version of the books that you describe them ass official?  I don't see how you could buy an established business without not only full access to the books but the ability to perform extensive financial due diligence over the information they contain.

MrsPizzaGeek

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Re: Holy shit we just bought a pizza place....a really old one
« Reply #13 on: April 30, 2014, 01:46:37 PM »
when I get a hold of the official books and will feel more comfortable shelling out some cash?

Uh... what??  Why would you be scheduled to close escrow before you ever got a hold of the "official" books?  Why are their more than one version of the books that you describe them ass official?  I don't see how you could buy an established business without not only full access to the books but the ability to perform extensive financial due diligence over the information they contain.

Have you ever owned your own business? Resturaunt a are generally cash business so many people skim the cash so they don't have to pay taxes. The "official" books will be the books I am keeping that report every dollar coming in and going out.

MrsPizzaGeek

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Re: Holy shit we just bought a pizza place....a really old one
« Reply #14 on: April 30, 2014, 06:16:57 PM »
Crap, I was in Redding a while ago and I didn't go to this awesome pizza place?  Boo. 

Sorry I don't have much advice since I know nothing about any of this, but I'm very interested in hearing how things go.  Please keep us updated even if the advice dries out.  You might consider blogging your progress with pictures (I'd read that blog).

I kinda have a dream to own a pizza place, but it's just one of those pipe dreams as I've never even worked at one and probably wouldn't want to deal with staffing, cleaning, etc.  I just imagine the employees eat a lot of pizza :-P

Thanks Dragocar! Any ideas on a good blog spot that would be fun to track and might be a good marketing tool as well!

MrsPizzaGeek

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Re: Holy shit we just bought a pizza place....a really old one
« Reply #15 on: April 30, 2014, 06:19:03 PM »
Are you paying someone to paint? If so, why?

Hi there,
We will be painting what we can reach, bathrooms, kitchen and such. There are 30 foot ceilings that can be sprayed to save time. Our painter is going to take some of the cost in pizza and beer so that is going to help! Gotta love trading pizza for work.

DollarBill

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Re: Holy shit we just bought a pizza place....a really old one
« Reply #16 on: April 30, 2014, 07:44:46 PM »
Again Congrats! How exciting!!

I've never owned a business or know what it takes to run one but I do have some idea's.

Is it a wood fire pizza place?
I always thought it would be a great idea to have a wood fire pizza place that delivers. I haven't seen that and I would pay extra to have a nicely charred, bubbly pizza with fresh toppings. Fresh tomato sauce, basal, olives, mozzarella...maybe even some artichokes...mmm. If I had that around here it would be a staple at least once a week. I don't know anyone who delivers a wood fire pizza. I think I would like to have a great clam sauce pasta. I would go to a place once a week  for the pasta when I was in Japan. I don't know what was in it but dang it was good. I would sop everything up with bread...mmm.

This isn't a wood fire but its the best pizza I've ever had:
http://www.frogandfirkin.com/food-menu/
The veggie firkin
Red sauce, fresh herb pesto, spinach, artichoke hearts, sliced tomato, fresh garlic, & feta cheese
Plus the Dog fish ale is heavenly! Picture #44

This is the best in our town. Great atmosphere and a cool gas fire wall.
http://ilvicino.com/

 

Sonorous Epithet

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Re: Holy shit we just bought a pizza place....a really old one
« Reply #17 on: April 30, 2014, 07:48:46 PM »
Oh forgot to post about the website, we have a vendor doing it for free! The menus too. Heres a link to the current website...haha I told you it is old school! http://www.angelospizzaredding.com/ Does that make your stomach hurt too??

Ah, that's not so bad. It's clean, legible, I can find the address, phone number, and menu. However, I couldn't find the hours or the prices (aside from the coupons).

Free is good, but if people visit the website they are looking for actionable information fast, not fanciness. Make sure you do that above all else!

If you do go fancy, huge-ass photos are the way to go. http://piesandpints.net/ This place just opened up near me, and it's pretty swanky all around.

And one more thing, can I just gripe about pizza coupons? I rarely get pizza because it seems like if you don't have a coupon, you're getting ripped off with a ridiculous "regular" price that's just for suckers. I don't wanna have to collect coupons on the off-chance I'll want pizza later that week. I want a pizza place that just has regular every day prices, or at worst, weekly specials that never change, so that I can just show up and I know the price is fair.

(P.S. that Ultimate Vegetarian pizza is making me drool)

randymarsh

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Re: Holy shit we just bought a pizza place....a really old one
« Reply #18 on: April 30, 2014, 07:50:46 PM »
I would lean against closing and relaunching in 3 months, unless you can shell out the necessary cash to get everything 100% and you think the business has enough name recognition to get customers back ASAP. Cash flow is everything in the restaurant business I believe.

Definitely get on top of keeping the books. If your volume is anything reasonable, you should be using something like Quickbooks or wave accounting or outright.

G-dog

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Re: Holy shit we just bought a pizza place....a really old one
« Reply #19 on: April 30, 2014, 08:12:03 PM »
Congratulations!  This is exciting and scary, but you'll get everything worked out.  FWIW, I have no experience in the restaurant business except as a customer!

Are the recipes part of the deal?  In a old established joint I would think the regulars would strongly object if their favorites don't taste exactly like what Fred used to make!

Is all the kitchen equipment in good shape? I could see that being a potential big expense.

Suppliers lined up, accounts opened?  Do restaurants typically have contracts or standing orders? I could see some suppliers taking this as an opportunity to raise prices or changing terms (when payment is due).

MarciaB

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Re: Holy shit we just bought a pizza place....a really old one
« Reply #20 on: April 30, 2014, 08:17:34 PM »
Congrats on taking the plunge and moving towards a dream! Takes courage.

On a business note - please look into the resources at your local Small Business Development Center (your closest one is Northeastern California SBDC at Shasta Community College, 2990 Innsbruck Drive, Redding, CA 96003 Phone: 530-242-7630). FREE and confidential business advising (help with marketing plans, thinking through financial decisions, HR issues, strategic planning of all kinds...and more). Founded by the SBA in 1983, these exist all over the country and are a fabulous resource for business owners.

Make this part of your business process, you'll be very glad you did!

(Disclaimer - I am the director of a Small Business Development Center in Oregon and see business owners in my area empowered to run strong profitable businesses every day with the help provided...FREE).


mikefixac

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Re: Holy shit we just bought a pizza place....a really old one
« Reply #22 on: April 30, 2014, 08:47:05 PM »
Sorry, I have no suggestions.

Congratulations though on having the courage to start your own business. If it's been a passion and sounds like it has, you're going to have a great time.

It's yours and you do what you want. You're da boss. I wish you the best.

Who doesn't like pizza?

dragoncar

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Re: Holy shit we just bought a pizza place....a really old one
« Reply #23 on: April 30, 2014, 11:57:31 PM »
And one more thing, can I just gripe about pizza coupons? I rarely get pizza because it seems like if you don't have a coupon, you're getting ripped off with a ridiculous "regular" price that's just for suckers. I don't wanna have to collect coupons on the off-chance I'll want pizza later that week. I want a pizza place that just has regular every day prices, or at worst, weekly specials that never change, so that I can just show up and I know the price is fair.


I agree I get put off if I need a coupon or if I need to go on certain days but I'm sure some are a complete 180. I think people are getting wiser.

It would be cool to have a "secret regular discount" where if you swipe the same credit card more than once a month, you get a $1 discount, or the cashier just remembers you, you get a discount.  I imagine the regulars already use coupons and this seems more loyalty building.

I guess the downside is it won't be sitting there on the counter/fridge begging them to use it before the expiration date.

lhamo

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Re: Holy shit we just bought a pizza place....a really old one
« Reply #24 on: May 01, 2014, 02:53:25 AM »
Not sure how far in advance they line up their shows, and they seem to focus on people who have run businesses long-term that are failing, but you might contact the people at Restaurant Impossible and see if they can help with your makeover/relaunch.  They do a total makeover of the restaurant for $10k, and also address any operational issues, etc. 

http://www.foodnetwork.com/shows/restaurant-impossible.html

Good luck!  One of our summer vacation possibilities is a drive down the coast from Seattle to SFO, and if we end up doing that we'll try to stop by and try your pizza.

snareman1

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Re: Holy shit we just bought a pizza place....a really old one
« Reply #25 on: May 01, 2014, 03:01:57 AM »
facepunch here:
1. I would not buy an existing business unless you have had extensive experience running the very type business you are purchasing; in this case, you've had extensive experience running a pizza restaurant.
2. Many people think that remodeling will somehow add to their profit enough to justify the expense. What are your ROI projections  for remodeling? In other words, how soon will "making it shiny on the inside" make you back your money or at the very least, break even on the investment?

3. If this place has history with the community, then making changes could change clientele, as well as the community's feelings about it For example, There's a reason people like dive bars (i know this is a pizza place); if you remodel one, that clientele could change and usher in a new breed of clientele (could be good or bad). That's an unknown.

4. If the books never changed, would you be happy with the income the business currently produces? if no, you are gambling.
It seems like you're basing a large part of your potential income projections on the theoreticals and unknowns . There's a certain percentage of your market that could be inspired to buy more of our product if you remodeled. How much more? There's another portion who would be turned off and like's things as they are. There's another portion who will never ever care because they only call in for delivery and never see the inside. If you're betting on a remodel to increase sales, you need to be careful and look at the data.

5. restaurants are historically a bad investment and don't usually go well unless you have tons of experience, etc (you could be the exception).

It really sounds like a passion project to me, and those are GREAT!
It can be fulfilling to follow one's dreams. Just make sure that you're set up to win so the dream doesn't have the potential to become a nightmare and ruin your life.

MrsPizzaGeek

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Re: Holy shit we just bought a pizza place....a really old one
« Reply #26 on: May 01, 2014, 10:04:24 PM »
Day 1:
0815 - text from our best worker "I've got a stomach bug since last night, do you still want me to come in?" Husband "STAY HOME".
Husband ditches his "meet and greet" plan for the day and starts making pizza dough.
1105 - 5 minutes after we open. Credit card machine is down... Haha yep really. Luckily the cc people didn't want to lose our business so said they would pay for our customers that didn't have cash until they got it working again around 1230. Score for our customers!!
1800 - so busy we are almost out of pizza dough! Thank good ness for secret stash!
Gotta love growing pains! 
But even with all that we had a great day and  our first day was a success! We decided to hold off on major upgrades for 3 months since the business is running well right now!
Thank you all for the advice it is wonderful to get encouragement and the occasional face punch too!

I'll come back and update the other questions ASAP and let you all know how we do.

snareman1

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Re: Holy shit we just bought a pizza place....a really old one
« Reply #27 on: May 01, 2014, 10:06:51 PM »
We decided to hold off on major upgrades for 3 months since the business is running well right now!
This is awesome and smart!

MrsPizzaGeek

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Re: Holy shit we just bought a pizza place....a really old one
« Reply #28 on: May 01, 2014, 10:10:51 PM »
We decided to hold off on major upgrades for 3 months since the business is running well right now!
This is awesome and smart!

Thanks! Now to keep my overzealous husband on the 3 month plan! I figure he will be too busy to try to talk me back in to it! ;)

dragoncar

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Re: Holy shit we just bought a pizza place....a really old one
« Reply #29 on: May 01, 2014, 10:45:22 PM »
We decided to hold off on major upgrades for 3 months since the business is running well right now!
This is awesome and smart!

Thanks! Now to keep my overzealous husband on the 3 month plan! I figure he will be too busy to try to talk me back in to it! ;)

Yeah, that'll give him time to figure out what areas really need improvement and where you shouldn't mess with a good thing.  Maybe talk to a couple regulars to get their thoughts discreetly.

facepunch here:
1. I would not buy an existing business unless you have had extensive experience running the very type business you are purchasing; in this case, you've had extensive experience running a pizza restaurant.

How long?  3 years isn't enough?

snareman1

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Re: Holy shit we just bought a pizza place....a really old one
« Reply #30 on: May 01, 2014, 11:03:58 PM »

[/quote]

How long?  3 years isn't enough?
[/quote] I stand corrected. Can't believe I didn't see that sentence prior.

MrsPizzaGeek

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Re: Holy shit we just bought a pizza place....a really old one
« Reply #31 on: May 01, 2014, 11:04:26 PM »
Not sure how far in advance they line up their shows, and they seem to focus on people who have run businesses long-term that are failing, but you might contact the people at Restaurant Impossible and see if they can help with your makeover/relaunch.  They do a total makeover of the restaurant for $10k, and also address any operational issues, etc. 

http://www.foodnetwork.com/shows/restaurant-impossible.html

Good luck!  One of our summer vacation possibilities is a drive down the coast from Seattle to SFO, and if we end up doing that we'll try to stop by and try your pizza.
That would be awesome! I will have to check it out. Thanks for the wads up. Please do stop by on your way it is only a couple minutes off i5

MrsPizzaGeek

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Re: Holy shit we just bought a pizza place....a really old one
« Reply #32 on: May 01, 2014, 11:05:42 PM »


How long?  3 years isn't enough?
[/quote] I stand corrected. Can't believe I didn't see that sentence prior.
[/quote]

Well it WAS a pretty long post!

totoro

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Re: Holy shit we just bought a pizza place....a really old one
« Reply #33 on: May 04, 2014, 05:08:49 PM »
I have a few years of now somewhat dated experience.

Good, you are waiting on renos.  Check the books and plan for the slowest time of year.  In addition, as you are new owners it might be best to show continuity for a while before making changes.

Owning a restaurant means a lot of details to look which can be overwhelming unless you have great staff that are stable, the cooks in particular.  Treat your cooks very well if you have good ones.  If you are busy wait-staff will stay due to the tips.  Vendor relationships and perks are also important. 

For example, being able to collect air miles for restaurant purchases adds up fast - as do cash back incentives.  You can afford to give your cook or manager an airline ticket here and there from time to time if you have that...

People love nostalgia.  Keeping enough of the décor to keep this and upgrading over time might be better than a wholesale makeover if the business is successful as is.

What about adding a jukebox?  Good source of additional revenue for the right place which might be a pizza place.

MrsPizzaGeek

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Re: Holy shit we just bought a pizza place....a really old one
« Reply #34 on: March 19, 2015, 01:26:53 PM »
Just a quick update. Things are going great. My husband is working crazy hours but loves it! Business has really picked up so we are hiring often. Taxes are next week so we will have an even better picture than the monthly and quarterly.

My FIL ended up wanting to help us and GAVE us the money for the floors! My family spent the weekend putting them in and it made a huge difference. We have painted all the walls and contacted distributors for some great neon signs and decor (FREE).

Does anyone else have issues with Yelp?? We were advertising with them and it showed all our 5 star reviews then we stopped advertising and suddenly all the 5 stars went to "Not currently recommended reviews" I dont know why that bothers me so much but it does! We have had so many 5 stars since we took over...

boarder42

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Re: Holy shit we just bought a pizza place....a really old one
« Reply #35 on: March 19, 2015, 01:31:51 PM »
Yelp is a racket that is very common for them to do things like this.

Eric

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Re: Holy shit we just bought a pizza place....a really old one
« Reply #36 on: March 19, 2015, 01:37:32 PM »
Thanks for the update!  Glad things are working out.

Does anyone else have issues with Yelp?? We were advertising with them and it showed all our 5 star reviews then we stopped advertising and suddenly all the 5 stars went to "Not currently recommended reviews" I dont know why that bothers me so much but it does! We have had so many 5 stars since we took over...

Everyone has issues with Yelp.  They are essentially a legalized racket.  They coerce you into advertising with them by manipulating the default review order.  Not sure if it's feasible for you, but here's a great article about one place fighting back:

http://insidescoopsf.sfgate.com/blog/2014/09/17/richmond-restaurant-owner-encourages-bad-yelp-reviews/
   

frugaliknowit

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Re: Holy shit we just bought a pizza place....a really old one
« Reply #37 on: March 19, 2015, 02:12:59 PM »
I think the most important thing to do, beyond the cost of renovations, is "create buzz"!

If you don't, it will just be the "newly owned Angelos". 

Talk to some marketing experts.

MrsPizzaGeek

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Re: Holy shit we just bought a pizza place....a really old one
« Reply #38 on: March 20, 2015, 03:58:03 PM »
That's funny I just talked to my hospitals, my day job :),  marketing director today at lunch. She mentioned a big "One year anniversary" party. Since we didn't do anything when we took over I think this is a great idea. We have time share points that are going to expire in 8 months (yes very un-mustacian, but we have used or sold it for over our maint fees every other year. The storms closed the resort this year so we couldnt go!) I was thinking we could do a drawing for a week vacation to Cabo? Business write off and a good way to get people in to test out the "New" Angelos? 

What do you all think? Any other ideas?


Davin

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Re: Holy shit we just bought a pizza place....a really old one
« Reply #39 on: March 20, 2015, 07:03:08 PM »
I just found this thread. I will also try to stop in next time I am in Redding, we pass through there a few times each year. I think the Anniversary party and week in Cabo promotion sounds like a great idea, but I'm not a marketing person. Also, like someone else mentioned, the Ultimate Vegetarian pizza description kind of makes me drool too.

dragoncar

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Re: Holy shit we just bought a pizza place....a really old one
« Reply #40 on: March 23, 2015, 12:19:07 PM »
I know yelp is frustrating, but you should try really hard not to be "that business owner" who responds to every negative review with anger.  Respond only if you can do it with utmost professionalism.  I'm not saying you won't, but I got a catty vibe from one of your responses.  Usually when I see an owner being catty on yelp, I am more inclined to think the bad review has merit.

I certainly wouldn't discuss fired personnel by name or brag about business doubling.
« Last Edit: March 23, 2015, 12:20:54 PM by dragoncar »

daymare

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Re: Holy shit we just bought a pizza place....a really old one
« Reply #41 on: March 23, 2015, 08:12:12 PM »
Quote
I know yelp is frustrating, but you should try really hard not to be "that business owner" who responds to every negative review with anger.  Respond only if you can do it with utmost professionalism.  I'm not saying you won't, but I got a catty vibe from one of your responses.  Usually when I see an owner being catty on yelp, I am more inclined to think the bad review has merit.

Yeesh ... agreed (just checked out the Yelp page).  Even if the customer's comment was totally inaccurate and rude - a comment like that from the business owner comes off as really shrew-ish, and makes the place look way more unappealing than the original comment ever could.  It seems like you have enough happy customers to offset the impression from negative reviews - let these good reviews speak for themselves, unless the business owner comments are conciliatory, friendly, and polite.

Best of luck!  (And I really like the anniversary party/Cabo promotion idea.  Maybe also get on social media - pictures and fun pizza links on Facebook, etc.)

MrsPizzaGeek

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Re: Holy shit we just bought a pizza place....a really old one
« Reply #42 on: March 24, 2015, 04:13:44 PM »
Quote
I know yelp is frustrating, but you should try really hard not to be "that business owner" who responds to every negative review with anger.  Respond only if you can do it with utmost professionalism.  I'm not saying you won't, but I got a catty vibe from one of your responses.  Usually when I see an owner being catty on yelp, I am more inclined to think the bad review has merit.

Yeesh ... agreed (just checked out the Yelp page).  Even if the customer's comment was totally inaccurate and rude - a comment like that from the business owner comes off as really shrew-ish, and makes the place look way more unappealing than the original comment ever could.  It seems like you have enough happy customers to offset the impression from negative reviews - let these good reviews speak for themselves, unless the business owner comments are conciliatory, friendly, and polite.

Best of luck!  (And I really like the anniversary party/Cabo promotion idea.  Maybe also get on social media - pictures and fun pizza links on Facebook, etc.)


I absolutely 100% agree with you on that response. My husband put that up after I TOLD him it was petty and made him look catty. I will show him your comments and maybe he will take it down. He is such a nice guy but this girl sent the health department in twice, keeps ordering "fake" delivery orders then brags about it on facebook and is making his life pretty annoying! The jibe about business doubling was because we had video pocketing money out of the register. Still no excuse to be petty!

MrsPizzaGeek

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Re: Holy shit we just bought a pizza place....a really old one
« Reply #43 on: March 24, 2015, 04:26:37 PM »
Quote
I know yelp is frustrating, but you should try really hard not to be "that business owner" who responds to every negative review with anger.  Respond only if you can do it with utmost professionalism.  I'm not saying you won't, but I got a catty vibe from one of your responses.  Usually when I see an owner being catty on yelp, I am more inclined to think the bad review has merit.

Yeesh ... agreed (just checked out the Yelp page).  Even if the customer's comment was totally inaccurate and rude - a comment like that from the business owner comes off as really shrew-ish, and makes the place look way more unappealing than the original comment ever could.  It seems like you have enough happy customers to offset the impression from negative reviews - let these good reviews speak for themselves, unless the business owner comments are conciliatory, friendly, and polite.

Best of luck!  (And I really like the anniversary party/Cabo promotion idea.  Maybe also get on social media - pictures and fun pizza links on Facebook, etc.)


I absolutely 100% agree with you on that response. My husband put that up after I TOLD him it was petty and made him look catty. I will show him your comments and maybe he will take it down. He is such a nice guy but this girl sent the health department in twice, keeps ordering "fake" delivery orders then brags about it on facebook and is making his life pretty annoying! The jibe about business doubling was because we had video pocketing money out of the register. Still no excuse to be petty!


****update****
I hacked his account and deleted it...hehehe. Hey I texted him when I was done so its not THAT bad! Thanks again for the heads up. Sometimes all you need is a little push.

swick

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Re: Holy shit we just bought a pizza place....a really old one
« Reply #44 on: March 24, 2015, 04:58:43 PM »
Hi MrsPizzaGeek,
I've enjoyed reading about your journey. I have a few ideas from the marketing perspective please don't take offense about anything I am saying, I do a fair bit of marketing and small business development consulting so these are just things I noticed right off.

Website - You need to have a clean, functional site your site is so distracting to scroll through and read that many people won't bother.

Pictures - the food pictures scrolling through the top of your page look like they are not in focus. The color balance is off, poor lighting a couple of them were taken with flash? They do nothing to showcase your food or make it look the least bit appetizing. - put it out there on your facebook page that you are looking for some updated pictures and will trade for store credit. Maybe there is a school with a photography program nearby?

Format - The side scrolling pictures mixed with scrolling down to read the site creates a disconnect - then the background is stationary and the text scrolls on top of it and becomes completely lost and confused when it rolls over top of your business name. It is uncomfortable to read and creating visually distracting layers, there is your business name and then text and pictures scrolling over top of it.

About - Your about page has no personality. People can buy pizza from a million places, what makes it unique is your family and your journey.

You could use a gallery page that showcases the food and people enjoying it, share the history of the place and the new memories that are being created. You are asking people to share their stories, but what are you doing with them?

An online order form wouldn't be too hard to implement in the future.

Contact Page - is broken and there is no from to fill out or otherwise easy way of getting in touch with you.

If you want to develop your brand/marketing and get a little clearer, I would recommend downloading the intro to the RevU framework here: [url]http://www.jonathanfields.com/18-kickstart-revolution/[url] lots of great stuff to think about.

MrsPizzaGeek

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Re: Holy shit we just bought a pizza place....a really old one
« Reply #45 on: March 24, 2015, 05:11:27 PM »
Hi MrsPizzaGeek,
I've enjoyed reading about your journey. I have a few ideas from the marketing perspective please don't take offense about anything I am saying, I do a fair bit of marketing and small business development consulting so these are just things I noticed right off.
....

Wow that is a lot of information! I really appreciate it, if there is one thing we DEF need help in it is the marketing. And apparently an attitude adjustment for my husband...ha. We started out all over the marketing but when business picked up it fell to the back. I will check that out and see about getting access to the website again as well. We sat with someone about 6 months ago who had great ideas but never got around to giving him access. It needs soooo much help!

Thank you for taking the time to give us this feedback. It makes making changes much easier because it give me a place to start!

swick

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Re: Holy shit we just bought a pizza place....a really old one
« Reply #46 on: March 24, 2015, 05:20:55 PM »
I know it often falls onto the back burner but figuring out your identity and brand messaging is super important. After viewing your site, I still really wasn't sure what you were all about, so I looked up the review pages. That isn't really where you want people to be turning to learn about you. Bad reviews can (somewhat) be negated by a strong website and web presence because it shows you really care. With a lack luster website, these days I am more inclined to pay attention to the bad reviews.

Don't get overwhelmed though, you got this :)

thurston howell iv

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Re: Holy shit we just bought a pizza place....a really old one
« Reply #47 on: March 25, 2015, 01:52:52 PM »
My .02:
1. I have a friend who owns a pizza business. His advise is to watch the cheese. Apparently, cheese prices will make or break a small pizza joint.
Other than that, he said to use the best ingredients you can afford. Like papa john says "better ingredients, better pizza".

2. I looked at your website. Don't take it wrong but it's a little "meh". I want to see pictures of mouth watering food. The prices are about average so how can you make me want to come to your place? (Hell, I'm hungry just thinking about Pizza but, your site was just a little vanilla)

3. Not sure if it was mentioned but some flyers with coupons would go a long way; Maybe hand delivered to local businesses (with lots of employees) who need a reason to order 10 pies. Or maybe have a "special super discounted deal" one day a week or month in order to entice people who would not normally consider you to just come in and try you guys out. Just thinking out loud.

4. You can DIY everything in the place. Close for a day or two every week, maybe work on the place in the mornings before you open... You can do this and not spend $10k if you're smart about it. Bribing friends and family with pizza and beer is a cheap way to get some labor.

5. Either way, congrats on the business. If you can provide what others cannot, you will do just fine. Good Luck to you.

lhamo

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Re: Holy shit we just bought a pizza place....a really old one
« Reply #48 on: March 25, 2015, 03:28:08 PM »
Another thing you might try to encourage brand loyalty/repeat business is a points system -- our favorite pizza place does that.  You earn 1 point for roughly $15 spent (cost of a large, one topping pizza), and with 12 points you get a large pizza for free.  Works on us -- we order pizza a couple of times a month on average, and I also use them for work functions.

Definitely clean up the website.  It makes a big impression and gives your business an identity/personality -- here is a sample from the brewery mentioned in the Seattle thread (co-founded by a grad school colleague of mine)

http://www.fremontbrewing.com/

It isn't perfect (personally I would at least put the address and phone number on the landing page as that is often what people are looking for initially), but may give you some ideas.  I like how they have incorporated their logo throughout the site (inclduing showing up on the address bar when you link to the site).