Selling Pizza with A Little Class

New York Pizza What's so good about it? PMQ goes to New York to visit three successful pizza operators.

       Pronto Pizza is another example of success in the New York Pizza Market. Owners John Porcello and Ken Fellus have been working the New York market since 1989 and now have five locations, a very difficult achievement in this ultra-competitive environment.

       When you walk into their Broadway location, you are hit with a dramatic presentation. A colorful assortment of pizza visible from the inner lobby, as well as the walk-by traffic. And the location is very inviting and clean.

       "We wanted to upgrade our pizza business, to look upper class," said, the tough-sounding, but actually-nice-guy, John Porcello. "We upgraded our lobby, put in smoked mirrors, brass, lighting. And there was a big difference in sales. Very big increase in sales as a result of the improvements. Tourists really like a nice place and we get a lot of them here. Plus we are in the garment district. We are two friendly guys that really try to know as many people as we can. We know the head of Macy's, and everyone at the gym. The key to our success has been quality and service. We have spent a lot of money on advertising to get people in our store but the real key is to take care of the customer once they get there. That's where we focus."

       Ken Fellus said, "And the quality has to be perfect. Everything has to be just right. We are freshness fanatics and we know what our customers want. In this store our customers prefer thin crust with fresh mozzarella and our upside down Sicilian does real well."

       Most of their sales comes from lunch where they sell slice after slice. At $2.50 a slice sales can pile up quickly. How big is their slice? They get eight pieces out of an 18 inch pie.

       Delivery is treated differently in New York. Pizza deliveries are all made by bike or cab. The delivery person takes and pays for the cab and is then reimbursed by the customer.

       The one big downside to business in New York is the cost of rent. $12,000 rent seems like a pretty fair price, until you realize that is a monthly payment, not a yearly one.

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