Business and Operations
from the editor’s desk: Making it memorable
By Laura Aiken
Excellent food is the anchor of success: the big ticket to a loyal clientele
Excellent food is the anchor of success: the big ticket to a loyal clientele. However, give your guests outstanding food paired with entertainment, and you can improve your chances of keeping them talking about your pizzeria long after their last meal. The trick lies in how memorable you can make your restaurant. Fabulous food lingers long on the tongue, but you can’t go wrong with injecting a bit of fun and even something unusual into the atmosphere.
Our cover story profiles PIE Wood Fired Pizza Joint, an Ontario pizzeria that gained North American press coverage for hosting an eating contest featuring the famed Takeru “The Tsunami” Kobayashi and Canadian power-eater “Furious” Pete Czerwinski. The pizza pie battle is just one way co-owner and chef Randy Feltis is making entertainment a key ingredient in PIE’s success.
Everybody likes to have fun and see something out of the ordinary, and everyone remembers where it happened. This simple fact can put you at the top of a person’s mind next time they are looking for a bite to eat, and separate you from the competition.
I recently enjoyed a meal in a restaurant where a Capoeira dancer did backflips in front of us (we had a particularly prime table to witness this). The impressive display sparked conversation, and thanks to the coupling of this with great food, the experience has led to a number of recommendations to friends. This type of spectator entertainment is one way to ingrain your place on your customer’s memory, much like another favourite restaurant of mine that consistently has stellar piano players and singers. Lots of places have bands, but this place just stays at top of mind. It is easy to lean towards because the performers are on par with the food, and while I’ve eaten at countless restaurants, it seems to pop up in the top few when I am asked for a recommendation for that type of food and atmosphere. However you entertain your customers – whether with music, contests, videos, or spinning pies – choose to offer and be the best in your market at it.
Entertainment also comes in the form of interaction. You can show your customers how passionate you are about your product by hosting a cooking class or give away free tips on making the perfect pizza. I was recently looking for peppercorn sauce in a grocery store and asked the butcher if they sold any after he wrapped up my steak. After looking around and determining they didn’t, he made some from scratch at no charge and told me, step by step, how to make it myself at home. The lady standing beside me waiting to order smiled and told me he was great for cooking tips. The butcher is at a grocery store that is out of my way to buy food from, but I am definitely more inclined to go there again because I was engaged by how helpful he was.
Another upside to incorporating entertainment into your pizzeria is that waiting becomes far more enjoyable. If you have a television, take a second look at whether you are making the best use of the programming based on your clientele. Perhaps shooting your own pizza making demonstration would set you apart. If you’re a family place, it might be wise to have a collection of kid-friendly flicks running, as parents are grateful for anything that eases the whine of a waiting child. Maybe it is worth considering having one of your staff wearing a fun costume to entertain children. It may even be just a simple, unusual item hanging on your pizzeria wall that is different enough to make you the easiest to recall.
Creating a fun atmosphere won’t replace the need for memorable food, but it will make you easier to remember.