Canadian Pizza Magazine

Features Profiles
A slice and beer atmosphere


Madanto pizzeria lies nestled in the heart of the Yonge and Eglinton neighbourhood of Toronto, its colourful storefront facing a shopping hub and movie theatre.

Madanto pizzeria lies nestled in the heart of the Yonge and Eglinton
neighbourhood of Toronto, its colourful storefront facing a shopping
hub and movie theatre.

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A trendy area known for its bustling demographic
of up and coming urban professionals (it’s also known as Yonge and
Eligible), Madanto enjoys the advantage of round-the-clock traffic. The
intersection is like a city within the city, the mix of residential,
commercial and retail business sprawling several blocks in each
direction. However, competitors line the streets for a piece of the
action in a location this good. Big chain pizzerias sit on nearly every
corner or within steps of Madanto’s door.

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Madanto’s offers gourmet slices in a licensed environment that’s quick and casual.

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A clearly defined niche is critical in this hyper-competitive
environment. Madanto pizzeria has defined an opportunity by offering a
large number of gourmet slices in a licensed environment that’s very
quick and casual. Slices range from $3.25 to $4.50. For little money,
patrons can grab a fast slice and a beer before a Friday night movie.
The value is great and the particular combination of ready-to-go slices
and counter service mixed with a sit-down licensed environment appeals
to the time and price concious who want more options than non-alcoholic
beverages. Alcoholic beverages can increase cheque averages and
operators should watch for a trending towards fast casual and even
quick-service restaurants adding wine, beer and spirits to the menu,
reported Marketing Daily. It’s been a recipe for success for six years
and part-owner Scott Wang says the mix of good location and quality
food has helped Madanto stand out among the competition.

“We have almost 40 different pizzas,” says Wang. “And we have a lot of gourmet pizzas that are unique recipes here.”

While Wang says meat pizzas are still the top sellers, the menu carries
nearly equal amounts of carnivore and omnivore specialties. Of note,
many of his most popular vegetarian recipes have no red sauce:
Primavera (no tomato sauce, mozzarella, olive oil, parmesan and a
combination of eggplant, zuchini, red peppers, garlic, tomato, oregano
and parsley), Spinaci (no tomato sauce or mozzarella, pesto, spinach,
roasted red peppers, green onions and feta) and Luciie (no tomato
sauce, mozzarella, olive oil cream sauce, parmesan, potato, rosemary
and onions).

A focus on gourmet slices requires a commitment to high-quality ingredients for Wang’s thin-crust pizzas.

“We use imported Italian tomato only and always. Never change the
recipe.” All of his sauces are homemade, including the salad dressings.
Wang even concocts a separate tomato sauce that’s just for his super
vegan pizza.

“And the dough, the dough is different. No sugar, no milk, in the
dough. The tomato sauce and dough is special. That’s why our taste is
different.”

Madanto delivers, but Wang says his competitors are probably receiving
a larger share of the market in his area for delivery. He counters this
by focusing on the dine-in slice experience and becoming a licensed
establishment proved to be a good differentiator for him. His future
plans include extending the pizzeria hours and staffing the back bar to
increase liquor sales and dine-in traffic. He offers value in selling
large, premium slices at a fair price. He says he hasn’t raised his
prices in five years and saves the money in management costs. Full
pizzas range in price from $11.25 to $20.25 and are sold as small,
medium, large and extra large. Last year’s recession did slow down the
business a bit, he says, but keeping his food inexpensive helped.

Madanto’s customers can build their own pizza but Wang says most of
the orders are still for predetermined combinations. Wang says he would
like to become a 24-hour establishment and bring breakfast onto the
menu. He also plans to open the back bar to increase the evening
alcohol sales. His focus on the dine-in traffic complements the full
Italian menu. Beyond pizzas, Madanto carries a range of insalate,
panini focaccia sandwiches, calzones, soups, antipasta and pasta
entrées. Wang also offers the pasta with customized options from the
noodles to sauce and each individual ingredient. Mandanto’s offers one
or two new pizza’s a year, and not every pizza gets sold by the slice
for space reasons at the front counter.

If there’s one thing about a great location, it’s that everybody wants
to be there, and you’re unlikely to be a lone wolf on the landscape.
Madanto shows that focusing on quality and a unique experience that
offers obvious value to its customers will keep your place hopping.

The recession and liquor trends
Alcohol sales grew last year despite the recession, reported Chris Elliott, the economist for the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association (CRFA), in a September 2009 insight piece. Preliminary numbers from Statistics Canada indicated that monthly sales at full-service restaurants grew 1.2 per cent while sales and limited-service restaurants led all segments with a 5.2 per cent jump in sales over the same period in 2008.  However, Elliott noted that increased liquor prices relative to liquor store prices, combined with an aging demographic and smoking bans have contributed to lower sales at drinking places over the past decade. The trend over the recession south of the border showed an increase in drinking but a move towards lower priced brands, according to data from the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States.