It’s been more than three weeks since we opened our first store in the US, and we’ve gotten some feedback from our customers. Almost every day, a few people ask if they can customize their pies. But they can’t. They won’t. We don’t allow that. Some people even get mad when they hear, “I’m sorry, but you can’t change the recipe.” Almost all pizzerias in the US have this option, but we have a whole bunch of reasons for not having it.
1. We’ve made it right
You wouldn’t teach a dentist how to do his job. The same thing can be said about mechanics, airplane pilots, or lawyers. You simply pay them to do the job for you. Our job is to make pizzas, and creating our recipes is a big part of it. We don’t sell gourmet pies. We believe in America’s favorite recipes made with a little twist—perfectly balanced and delicious. Cherry tomatoes on a chicken club pizza serve a purpose—balancing the saltiness of the bacon. Therefore, they should stay where they are.
2. Pizza must be pizza
We feel responsible for what we’re doing. It might sound weird, but we do care about selling damn good pizzas, even if we sometimes have to say “no” to our customers. Some people ask for a pizza with no cheese or no marinara sauce. If we really wanted to sell dough and a bunch of ingredients, we’d go straight into the retail business. But we sell pizzas, and they should first and foremost be pizzas. So, a crust with pizza sauce and cheese, at least.
3. We don’t like mistakes
Just imagine. 6 pm—typical rush hour at the restaurant. We are getting tens, hundreds of orders at the same time. Even 15 ingredients will give you thousands of variations on recipes. And this is the answer to your question about “why did they forget to add feta cheese to my pepperoni pizza?” I am sure they were trying hard not to forget, but when you’re overwhelmed with the amount of orders and you have no chance to follow a pattern, mistakes just happen. We don’t want to promise you something we won’t be able to deliver 100% of the time. Cutting off the customization helps us do things right.
4. A pizzeria is a small-scale factory
A pizza store reminds me more of a factory than an artist’s workshop. You gotta get creative designing the products and operations, but the key to selling 500 pizzas a day is efficiency. The more efficient we are, the more pizzas we can make per day and the lower our prices can be without losing quality. We believe in having a super narrow menu with just one option for pizza size and no customization so that we can deliver the highest-quality product efficiently.
You might think that Americans would never buy a pizza from a company following some crazy “no customization” rule. And you wouldn’t be alone. Every day, we have to say “no” to our customers, and we absolutely hate it. But we have to follow our own rules if we’re serious about our goals.
There is a chance that we’ll be completely wrong and the market will make us die painfully in Oxford. We’ll see. But we hope that there are people out there who value the product itself more than the freedom of creating a mess on a plate. Three weeks after the Dodo Pizza opening, I can tell for sure: these people exist.