Dave Ostrander is the owner/operator of Big Dave’s Pizza in Oscoda, MI. Since 1975, he has served award-winning pizza, pasta, sandwiches and salad bar in his 120-seat restaurant; 50% of his sales are from delivery.
He also acts as a Pizza Consultant for a full-line distributor and a tomato packer. Big Dave travels and gives seminars from coast to coast and is recognized as a marketing and operations expert, helping independent and multi-unit operators.
The entrepreneurial bug bit me at a very young age and pizza became my life. It has been a wonderful journey and quite enlightening along the way. I have watched the fledgling operators of the 60’s turn pizza into gold. We’ve become pretty high tech since I made my first sorry looking pizza some thirty years ago. Rotary phones, adding machines, slicing pepperoni and pizza served in paper bags given way to Caller ID, computer POS systems, portion control, car top delivery signs, coupons and customer tracking. We learned as we went and a lot of us formed loose alliances of kindred spirits to share information and survival skills. We possessed just enough information to make ourselves dangerous. If you made a really great pizza, treated your customers and employees like family, were lucky, worked really hard and didn’t make one of the seven deadly financial sins, you are still around. You are living the American dream and my hat is off to you.
I have lived through almost every setback known to the industry and I thought I had seen it all. I was one of the lucky ones until my pizzeria burned down. I have written strategical plans for every conceivable problem that can occur, but, ironically although a volunteer firefighter for thirteen years, I wasn’t ready for this one.
Fortunately, I survived and am a little wiser. If it were not for the strong relationship I forged during my career and strong family support, I would be history. My employees, family, friends, food distributors, and community stood by and gave me the mental fuel to get on with it and rebuild. Help came pouring in from everywhere – from my bank, the fire department, my equipment supplier, my general contractor, my food distributor of eighteen years, my accountant. Customers dropped by daily with words and deeds of encouragement. Those were the longest fourteen Fridays of my life.
Even so, everything went pretty smoothly until I read the complete insurance policy. I hadn’t done a complete review in over fifteen years. I found I was OK in some areas, but substantially under-insured in others.
I urge you to learn from my mistake. I truly believe that as we approach the next millennia our success, prosperity and survival will depend on our ability to share information. I’m convinced that human kindness runs deep, and all we have to do is ask. Stay tuned and keep in touch.
Big Dave can be reached at: 888-BIG-DAVE or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.