Alex Koons: Classes I’ve Discovered at Sizzling Tongue Pizza

By Alex Koons

I opened Sizzling Tongue Pizza in Los Angeles in February 2022. The previous 12 months has been crammed with highs and lows, every with its personal helpful lesson to supply. Proudly owning and working a brand-new pizza store is difficult, to say the least, however extremely rewarding, particularly when you have discovered to like the battle. Listed here are a couple of vital classes I discovered up to now 12 months:

1) Preserve your menu easy. 

I’m usually responsible of doing an excessive amount of. I used so as to add issues to my menus with little or no thought, simply because I might, however I found that it’s a recipe for catastrophe. Simply because I could make one thing doesn’t imply each member of my workforce might be skilled effortlessly to execute it the way in which I would like. Two days earlier than Sizzling Tongue opened, I lower the sandwiches and pastas out of the menu, leaving solely the pizzas and some apps. Wanting again, it was one of the best resolution I might have made. It eliminated the distractions of unnecessarily sophisticated coaching and allowed us to deal with what mattered most: the pizza. We lastly launched pastas six months later, and so they have been an enormous success. However with out permitting ourselves that point to get our act collectively, I consider it could have been a catastrophe. Up to now 12 months, we’ve added just one pizza to the menu. By exercising restraint with the menu, we’ve got been capable of make small tweaks to enhance on what we’re already killer at.

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2) Much less is extra when staffing. 

Within the first few weeks after opening, individuals had been crowding the restaurant to get in and check out the meals. We had been super-busy, and I assumed we had been understaffed. We had been continuously altering the schedule to suit the demand and attempting to determine what number of staff we would have liked and what number of hours we had out there. Then, that preliminary hype wore off, and actuality set in. The times slowed down, and orders decreased. It was scary, nevertheless it turned out to be an enormous blessing, as a result of we ended up with simply sufficient hours to go round for our workers after the mud settled. Staffing a restaurant blindly was a fairly large hurdle that, fortunately, we acquired over. In hindsight, I like to recommend hiring fewer individuals than you anticipate needing to start with, simply to make sure that, when the novelty wears off, nobody’s hours are drastically diminished.

3) Funds money and time for a advertising plan. 

We didn’t have a finances for PR, however we had been fortunate sufficient to wind up in a few prime publications round Los Angeles. These write-ups boosted our visibility, which helped gross sales and enterprise, however the advantages all the time trickled away after a few days. To get individuals within the door, we reap the benefits of instruments like Google Enterprise, Yelp, Instagram, flyers and neighborhood outreach. However after a full 12 months in enterprise, many individuals nonetheless don’t know we exist. If I might return, I’d have discovered the cash for some form of PR launch.

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Associated: Alex Koons’ 4 steps for interviewing potential pizzeria staff

Photograph courtesy Sizzling Tongue Pizza

4) Buyer expertise is the style earlier than the chew. 

I spent the final seven years with my face in a pizza oven or glued to a display screen or a e book. I gave a lot of myself to the meals and the workforce that I forgot concerning the significance of connecting with the individuals consuming the meals and having fun with the restaurant. Since opening Sizzling Tongue, I’ve been pressured to get in entrance of these clients who come from all around the metropolis—and the globe. Within the final 12 months, I’ve made extra buddies than I’d made within the final 20 years. I underestimated the ability of the client expertise and extremely suggest ensuring you and your workers deal with each visitor like a finest good friend. It’s the primary impression individuals get and an important issue that influences a visitor earlier than they even attempt that first slice. The meals brings them in, however the service retains them coming again.

5) Your workforce is all the pieces! 

With out the insanely gifted workforce at Sizzling Tongue, it simply wouldn’t operate—particularly my two managers, Michael and Andrew. They create genuine buyer experiences that form the way in which the meals tastes even earlier than somebody has taken a chew. It’s the vitality that everybody who works right here brings to each shift. Hiring the best individuals makes lots of issues really feel simpler. Take your time to rent individuals that you just belief and know will kick butt.

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I as soon as thought I had lots of the restaurant enterprise found out. Opening Sizzling Tongue from completely nothing has proven me, day after day, that I nonetheless have rather a lot to be taught. Being open-minded has helped me develop 10 instances greater than I’d have. I’ll attempt something as soon as. No thought is silly. Say sure, and take each assembly. That angle has helped this restaurant evolve into what it’s at the moment. Don’t put up any partitions. Don’t faux to know all of it. Keep open to all the pieces. That’s one 12 months down. Right here’s to twenty extra!  

Alex Koons is an business marketing consultant and the proprietor of Sizzling Tongue Pizza, an all-vegan pizzeria, and Purgatory Pizza in Los Angeles.