The food chain

Managing a pizzeria requires purchasing the right product for the right price, and while you can’t always control food costs, you can control your relationship with distributors. Building a strong relationship with your suppliers is an essential step in building the foundation of a successful business venture. PMQ collected tips from operators and distributors who volunteered their advice on making this essential relationship work. “Not only is having quality food important —having quality relationships is, as well.”

 

“Find a rep who shares your passion, work ethic and vision. He makes commission on food sales, so if you’re successful, he’s successful. Besides, he’s your lifeline if you run short on an item and need a will call. If he saves you on a Saturday, you’ll know he cares about the success of your business.”
Matt McClellan, owner
Tour De Pizza (tourdepizza.com)
St. Petersburg, FL
 
“Having an independent distributor is beneficial because the reps can help a new restaurateur with a better understanding of how a pizzeria works from the outside in. They can even go as far as helping with menu ideas and recipes.”
Steve Negri, owner
Mandy’s Pizza (mandyspizza.com)
Pittsburgh, PA
 
“The distributor should be about service, and getting you what you need when you need it. Some companies auction food and have no consistency, so using a smaller distributor can help enrich your quality of food and help build a strong relationship.”
Vince D’Amico, vice president of sales
D&D Foods
Egg Harbor Township, NJ
 
“Find out who manufactures the house labels whenever you can. For pizza places, cheese, tomatoes, fl our and meats have to be consistent. House labels periodically go out to new bids, and can change manufacturers without notice, which can lead to tragic results.”
Nick Sasso, kitchen manager
Nick’s Pizza (nicksgrantville.com)
Grantville, GA
 

“There is more to buying ingredients than cost; you have to think about what you are selling. Cheap isn’t always good!”
Mike Hauke, owner
Tony Boloney’s (tonyboloneys.com)
Atlantic City, NJ

 

“Not only is having quality food important—having quality relationships is, as well. Find a company that deals with operators like family. This builds the trust every operator/distributor relationship needs.”
Rob Triulzi, driver
Andoro & Sons Food
Wentzville, MO

 

“It takes much patience! You’ll encounter wrong items, out of stock items, mis-routed trucks, and cheese prices going through the roof—but these things are out of the representative’s control. Many owners don’t know this and take their frustrations out on the rep.”
Ron Mathews, founder
Rockstar Pizza (rockstarpizza.net)
Brownsburg, IN

 
“Taste the different sauces and cheeses you use; never just go with the cheapest. Cheap ingredients equal cheap product.”
Giorgio Giove, co-owner
Brother’s Pizza
Staten Island, NY
 
“Don’t expect what you don’t inspect. Many operators expect so much, but never inspect the products they receive. If you inspect, the distributor will make sure he doesn’t botch your product; otherwise, distributors won’t make the extra effort to ensure you have what you need.”
Daniel Westmoreland, general manager
Little Caesars (littlecaesars.com)
Oxford, MS
 

“The most important thing a pizzeria owner or manager can do is receive the salesperson with an open mind when called on. It’s also very important the sales rep listens to the customer’s needs and gives him what he’s looking for.”
Thomas Russo, vice president of sales
Vesuvio Foods
Edison, NJ

 

“The most important thing when dealing with pizzerias is to know the owner’s vision. It’s important for a vendor distributor to know how the owner wants his customers to view the pizzeria.”
Jeanette Catena, sales representative
Orlando Foods
Maywood, NJ

 
“Distributors should not overcharge, should make sure operators get quality products, and should ensure quality customer service. Find a company that helps you when you’re down on payments; most distributors drop a client because of this.”
Eddie Napoleone, owner
Nappies Foodservice
Oakdale, PA
 
“I spend time with my distributor in order to build the relationship. I let the rep know what I hope to do with my restaurant, because the distributor has many products, and I wouldn’t know about a lot of them if my rep hadn’t suggested them to me. I can’t complain about getting overpriced items
simply because, as an operator, I know it’s important to do my research and stay on top of things.”
Frank Catena, owner
Luna Pizza (lunapizzanj.com)
Three Bridges, NJ
 

Artesha Dunning is PMQ’s editorial intern.