When you’re forced to close your pizzeria’s dining room, why not turn it into a mini-grocery store to help customers get some of the essentials they can’t find in tapped-out supermarkets? Dan Uccello, owner of Flo’s Wood Fired Pizzeria in Rockford, Michigan, and a member of the U.S. Pizza Team, is doing just that, demonstrating the creativity and resiliency of the pizza industry in challenging times.
Uccello has been advertising Flo’s Home Goods, selling items like milk, eggs, bread, pasta, fruit and, yes, toilet paper, all of which he already had in stock in his restaurant. He tells PMQ he’s selling the products at cost plus a 35 percent markup.
Uccello has created a simple price list for the available items, which also include various sizes of pizza dough crusts, cauliflower pizza crusts, and pizza and pasta sauces as well as juices and bottled water.
Like Uccello, many operators are looking for creative ways to serve their communities—and keep the revenue coming in—while minimizing staff and customers’ risk of exposure to the coronavirus. Pushing gift card sales and promoting curbside pickup for customer orders have become common practice over the past week. PMQ’s Brian Hernandez, coordinator of the U.S. Pizza Team, surveyed team members and came up with five ways pizzeria owners can increase revenue and save money during the coronavirus crisis:
- Offer reheating instructions for wood-fired pizzas. Ali Haider, owner of 786° in Sun Valley, California, knows that Neapolitan pies taste their best fresh out of the oven, but that’s an experience he can’t offer for the time being. So he has developed a list of instructions for reheating his pizzas to maximize quality for his delivery/carryout customers.
- Negotiate with your landlord. Many pizzerias will struggle to pay rent as sales decline, and financial assistance from state and local governments will likely take some time to arrive. Ask for a meeting with your landlord to renegotiate your rent expenses and due dates. Many of them should be open to negotiation in a time of national crisis for small business owners.
- Explore refinancing opportunities. Interest rates have been slashed to nearly zero. That means this is a good time to look into refinancing loans and mortgages to save money.
- Raise your delivery fee. This could help your drivers make more money, and tips can be shared with in-house staff—or vice-versa.
- Consider partnering with a third-party delivery company. Yes, many independent operators dislike third-party companies like DoorDash and Uber Eats, but if your store doesn’t have staff for delivery, now might be the time to take the plunge. As CNBC reports, DoorDash announced Tuesday it will eliminate or reduce some commission fees for its partner restaurants, while Grubhub said it would temporarily suspend up to $100 million in fees for independent operators affected by the coronavirus.