From the horse's mouth

Everyone does business a different way. In this new department, PMQ will pose two to three questions each issue to a group of owners/operators from across the country so you can see what others think about certain topics. In this department, you get the word straight from the horse's mouth. If you have a question you would like to have asked or would like to volunteer and voice you opinions, email Tom Boyles at tom@pmq.com

Those we surveyed:

  • Scott L. Anthony, Owner Punxsutawney, PA Fox's Pizza Den
  • John Pontrelli (Gen. Partner) Escondido, CA Pit Stop Pasta
  • Chris DiGesu Union, NJ Proud Papa's
  • Chris Filipkowski Erie, PA Flip's Pizza

Do you think the low-carb craze is here to stay or just and trend? How should pizzeria owners address the low-carb situation right now?

"I think it is a trend and the present solution is offering thin crust." Scott Anthony

"It's both a trend, and is here to stay. We found that it is not only those following a low-carb plan for weight loss, others are on a low carb diet due to medical reasons and have been advised by their physicians to cut down on carb intake. Operators should add some type of low carb items to their menu. We came up with a simple way to eliminate the crust altogether, by serving pizza toppings, sauce and cheese baked casserole style in our pizza ovens. We call it "pizza in a bucket" and it has gained national attention. And yes, people are coming in to order the "buckets" and would not come here to eat if we didn't offer such a dish." John Pontrelli

"I believe the low carb craze will eventually subside and morph into a search for healthier alternatives to traditional pizza ingredients. Pizza after all is the ultimate paradox. It is the only food that represents all four food groups yet is ostensibly a "sin" food. In the meantime we need to test the waters and see if low-carb or no-carb offerings will have appeal in our respective markets." Chris DiGesu

" I think the low-carb diet is a fad just like the diets of the past. People diet for a while and then want their normal food again. Just like most fads they are worth catering to. The pizza in a bucket or chicken wings with butter and garlic or ranch powder are a great low-carb option." Chris Filipkowski

Which segment of your sales have you seen the most growth in in the past year?

"Catering, pizza is a fast economical way to feed the masses." I>Scott Anthony

"Our sales have doubled in dine in customers due to our expansion of adding 40 more seats. Our catering has substantially increased due to a catering jobber providing us with weekly jobs." John Pontrelli

"My pizza sales have thankfully gone up each of the eleven years I have had my shop. Furthermore, delivery sales have enjoyed a huge increase annually over the same period." Chris DiGesu

"Our biggest growth has been our specialty pizza segment. Led by our 3 Chicken Pizzas (chicken ranch, chicken BBQ, and chicken parm). People seem to like chicken on pizza right now." Chris Filipkowski

What is your philosophy on the use of coupons?

"I use them for the following purposes; 2/6 for name recognition just to keep my name out there, I advertise something at regular menu price, 3/6 at a slight discount just to highlight a particular product or maybe adding free soda or bread stix, 1/3 at a 25-30 percent discount to get the "cherry-pickers" on a more regular basis and hopefully attract a new customer by a tempting price." I>Scott Anthony

"We do not use coupons. Our clientele base has grown by word of mouth, and whatever local press we have received in the past. We have built our reputation on our quality of food menu value, and level of service. I do not feel coupons can achieve that. I do believe coupons would bring more customers, but not loyalty." John Pontrelli

"My philosophy on coupons has been and will continue to be that they are a necessary evil. I am much more in favor of frequent buyer programs to build loyalty and targeted marketing to attract and keep new customers." Chris DiGesu

"We do a lot of couponing, however about half of our coupons are just are regular prices. These coupons work very well selling much more of the products then when they are not advertised. We do not do deep discounts only a $1.00 or $2.00" Chris Filipkowski