I figured it would be cool just to work behind the scenes for a little while and then get back to writing this blog with some breaking news. And here I am with an announcement: we’re opening our first dine-in Dodo Pizza restaurant in the US. If you’ve followed our story for a while, you might be perplexed, because we’re doing something we said we wouldn’t ever do. Why the sudden change of heart?
Our pizza delivery in Oxford has turned one year old. We’ve had some good times and bad times, but now it’s safe to say that Dodo Pizza’s first American experiment has become a success. We began to see profit in the third month and managed to boost our revenue by selling pizza in the stadium during football games and on the Ole Miss campus. What is even more important, we’ve built a loyal audience. Dodo Pizza Oxford still holds a 4.9-star rating on Facebook.
And yet, we’re abandoning our initial concept of building a chain of artisan pizza deliveries. The second American Dodo Pizza will open in Southaven, MS as a dine-in restaurant (30–35 seats) with a delivery option.
Our team has already found a location and signed a lease agreement. The Southaven store will be twice as big (1,500 sq.ft.) as the one in Oxford. The pizzeria will be located on Goodman Rd., one of the busiest streets in town.
The menu is changing as well. We’ll offer not 8 but 12 pizzas (to start with). In Oxford, we have only one size: 12”. In Southaven, we are switching to two sizes: 10” (personal size for individual consumption) and 14” (for two or three people to share).
Many Oxonians are frustrated because we won’t allow them to customize their pizza. After opening our pizzeria In Southaven, we will let our clients in both cities get rid of any ingredients they want (it’s our take on customization). We’ll also have salads, cheesecakes, and milkshakes of various flavors.
We don’t offer any promotions and sales in Oxford. In Southaven, we’re aiming to have combo deals for lunch and families.
As you can see, we’re changing our business model significantly for our second store. There are three main reasons for doing that.
- Managing a dine-in restaurant and delivery is trickier than just a delivery. A year ago, we weren’t ready for that. Now we think we are.
- There are lots of fine restaurants in almost any American city. We thought that we couldn’t compete with them since our primary focus was delivery. Now we think we can.
We’re constantly being asked by our customers whether we have dine-in. People want it.
- You can find plenty of fast casual pizza places and zero fast casual pizza deliveries. A crowded market and an empty one—a year ago, the choice looked obvious. Now we understand that this fast casual trend hasn’t reached the South yet. So there are still lots of opportunities.
In broad strokes, we’re looking for a business model that would fit the market best.
We have to take risks and experiment to find our ideal practice—even if our current model is working.
Some things change, some things don’t. We’re still hell-bent on providing the best service to our customers, saving every penny, and cutting out everything that doesn’t impact the product so we can use the money and energy on only the best ingredients.
The biggest idea behind our restaurant in Southaven is “delicious pizza made with high-grade ingredients—for casual eating.” We won’t have waitresses, silverware, live music shows, etc. We also won’t charge people $8 for a glass of cheap wine. On top of that, our pizza will always be available for delivery and carryout.
Southaven will be just another venture for our team—and a step toward a bigger goal. It’s very close to Memphis, TN, where we’re planning to build a big chain eventually. Our adventure goes on—and you’ll be able to follow it, as always, on this blog.
In the meantime, feel free to review Dodo Pizza Oxford’s February 2017 P&L spreadsheet.