Cross-Canada Viewpoint: Delivery deliberations
By Canadian Pizza staffFeatures Business and Operations Delivery pizza delivery Pizzeria Farina pizzeria gaga TJ's Melfort
We asked pizzeria operators, “What is your experience with third-party delivery? Do you plan to make changes to your delivery model? Will you use third-party services in future?”
Here’s what three operators had to say.
Alessandro Vianello, executive chef, Kitchen Table Group, owners of Pizzeria Farina, Vancouver
Alessandro Vianello is executive chef overseeing five restaurants in the Vancouver area. The busy Pizzeria Farina in North Vancouver is the only one of their three pizzerias that uses third-party delivery services. The popular spot has used Uber Eats and Foodora for several years.
“At Farina on Main Street we do delivery only through third-party services. It is quite lucrative for us: we do a lot of business through them. Without them, right now doing delivery would be cost-prohibitive, especially with the staffing issues that are plaguing our industry right now. It’s hard to find cooks and dishwashers and I don’t think it would be any easier to find delivery drivers.”
When it opened nine years ago, Farina was the first restaurant in its area. “We’re still doing quite well, but with more restaurants opening in the area, we have to be more focused on trying to gain business from other avenues. It’s helped us get our food to more people.”
At sister pizzeria Farina a Legna it’s a different story. “We do take-out on a case-by-case basis and usually only if you show up and place your order because we have a smaller oven and are more of a full-menu, sit-down restaurant. We have a loyal clientele and we don’t want to disturb them. . . . We get requests to do delivery services and with the restaurant in Gastown, it makes sense. Doing take-out and delivery maximizes our opportunity there.”
Nebojsa Zeljic,co-owner, Pizzeria Gaga, Calgary
Nebojsa Zeljic and his wife Safeta, a chef with decades of experience, together have run Pizzeria Gaga for nine years. They serve thin-crust pizzas, soups and Italian sandwiches.
Theirs is a tight business model. With just the two of them working, there is not much opportunity to deliver. “We do take-out. About 50 per cent of customers pick up their pizzas and 50 per cent eat here.”
“When we opened, I thought about doing take-out service. Would people come to pick up their pizza?” Zeljic says. It turns out they would and the pizzeria has many loyal customers and tourists coming in for their pizza.
“I do any deliveries for corporate customers myself,” Zeljic says. “We tried delivery through several companies. It’s very hard to do business with companies that just want to make money. We want to do more than make money. We want to make great pizza and have happy customers. I don’t see how it can sustain. It was costing us money to use these services when a customer isn’t happy with the way the product is delivered.”
Social media helps tourists find the pizzeria. “We’re a small place with a real chef. We don’t make a lot, but it’s an amazing life – we have a guy playing piano in the store. On Christmas Eve, we make Christmas dinner for people who can’t afford to pay.
“If you want to use delivery services, do your research,” he says. “I don’t think they’re helping pizza businesses and that’s the reason I don’t have them.”
Tara Muntain, co-owner, TJ’s Pizza, Melfort, Sask.
Tara Muntain, husband Lloyd and daughters Daytona and Rachael, run the TJ’s Pizza franchise in Melfort, Sask., which is much loved for its community-minded generosity by the town of about 6,000. They do their own delivery. “We can serve our area ourselves,” she says. However, she’s seen delivery services come in through other TJ’s franchises in Regina and Saskatoon, and knows it’s a prospect the family-owned will have to face one day.
“It’s a digital world, but I’m leery of the day it does come. And because of the McDonald’s opening down the street, it will come,” she says, wondering aloud how it may impact their personal relationships with longtime customers. “We pride ourselves on knowing our customers. And we want to upsell. With an outside service, we can’t do that. That’s a problem: our average customer cheque may go down.” Of the fees outside services charge, she says “We simply don’t have 25 per cent to give away. Smaller businesses like ours, if we get new customers through a service, the onus is on us to try to keep that customer by offering them an incentive to order directly through us.”
“It’s a change we have to embrace,” she says. “But it’s a question mark. I’m interested in knowing how that’s going to affect us.”
Muntain is grateful for the support they receive. “We make that decision for our own franchise, but we talk about it among the other franchisees,” she says. “It’s good because they tell us about their experiences.”
Here you’ll read about pizzeria operators from across Canada and have a chance to share your own views on a wide range of topics. To offer feedback or ideas for future topics, get in touch with editor Colleen Cross at <a href=”mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org“>email@example.com</a> or 519-428-3471 ext. 261.
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