Canadian Pizza Magazine

Features Profiles
‘Locking’ up pizza in Fenelon Falls

Pizzeria anchors business to boating


There’s something about boats and water that draws crowds, says Terry Radey. Each summer, the Ontario businessman watches some 200,000 people find their way down to a quiet little spot on the Trent-Severn Waterway to watch pleasure craft cruise up to Lock 34 in Fenelon Falls.

There’s something about boats and water that draws crowds, says Terry
Radey. Each summer, the Ontario businessman watches some 200,000 people
find their way down to a quiet little spot on the Trent-Severn Waterway
to watch pleasure craft cruise up to Lock 34 in Fenelon Falls.

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Terry Radey and his daughter Anna with his signature 1934 Ford DeLuxe Fordor.


But Radey says this is what floats his boat as a restaurateur: Those
200,000 people stand right in front of his pizzeria and ice cream shop.

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Ten years ago, he and his family were looking for an entrepreneurial
project to keep themselves busy. He had just retired after 32 years
with Canadian Tire, but wasn’t ready to set aside his business know-how.

“There was an old coffee and doughnut shop in the original location. It
had closed when Tim Hortons moved to town, so we knew we couldn’t do
that,” Radey says of the creation of Slices ‘n’ Scoops. “I suggested
pizza and ice cream. Some people wondered what a guy with my background
would know about pizza, but I just said they’re not unlike tires …
they’re both round and chewy.”

Radey also knew that his hometown held some magic charm in the tourism
industry built around the canal and the photographic falls. Now in its
10th year of operation – and second location – Slices ‘n’ Scoops
remains true to the original idea of a quick-serve establishment
combining the best of both worlds for walk-in food: pizza and ice cream.

Customers can sit on the expansive outdoor patio and enjoy some food
while watching the action at Lock 34 directly across the street. The
business opens on the long weekend in May, and closes following Labour
Day.

“The pedestrians come to see these magnificent boats and yachts, turn around and there we are,” Radey says.

On this particular beautiful Sunday afternoon, Radey has added a
secondary draw to the watercraft across the street in the form of a
bright red 1934 Ford DeLuxe Fordor. Hard to miss and in pristine
condition, the car is equally impressive.

Daughter Anna manages the day-to-day operations and says that while
some may flinch at the concept of being a seasonal-only pizzeria, the
nature of the community lends itself perfectly. The village has just a
little over 2,000 year-round residents. That number soars in the summer
as people flock to the Kawartha Lakes region for cottages, campgrounds
and daytrips.

However, the demographics also pose a marketing challenge. Radey says
that they have not yet seen a reason to implement a media-based
advertising campaign.

“We have two kinds of customers: the locals, who already know we are
here; and the people who come for the water. They are coming from the
cities and other places, so how can you begin to target that group? You
really wouldn’t know where to put those advertising dollars.”

Delivery, his daughter adds, also has proven to be a challenge.
Obtaining the proper insurance, especially when Slices ‘n’ Scoops is
only open for four months, is not cost effective. Therefore, the
pizzeria does not offer door-to-door service, and has remained firm in
the plan to remain walk-in only, even when a provincial chain operation
opened in town.


HIGH VOLUME

A typical summer weekend will see 1,200 retail transactions, and the Radeys estimate an average of 2.5 people per transaction.

“It’s high volume, but over a very short period of time,” Radey adds.

Their pizza is a traditional offering. Dough is made daily in-house and
pressed into crusts on a new dough press. The Radeys replaced their old
sheeter recently, and since that time, have found the crust has a
better molecular structure, shape and bakes more evenly.

From the foundation of a traditional pizza flour crust, the pizzaiolos
use a full-red pizza sauce. Anna explains the one twist they have added
over the years has been to use a blended cheese of provolone, brick and
mozzarella. Some pies are topped with Parmesan and the final product
baked in a deck oven. After some experimentation, the restaurant owners also opted to use a three inch pepperoni, versus a more common cut.

“It’s what we like as a family,” says Anna. “And our customers have really embraced it as well.”

Each topping, including the cheese, is prepackaged according to pizza
size to control food costs. But, as Radey suggests, “we’re probably a
little more generous than a lot of others.” He estimates somewhere in
the neighbourhood of 18 per cent for food costs, in contrast to some
national franchises with a target of nine per cent.

On the ice cream side of the business, the Radeys have partnered with
another family-owned business in the region. The Bobcaygeon-based
Kawartha Dairy Company supplies the restaurant with some 1,600 tubs and
24 flavours of ice cream during the four month business season. The
volume, Radey adds, has elevated them to one of the largest retailers of that brand.

This brand of ice cream was the first packaged ice cream in Canada to
display the Dairy Farmers of Canada ‘Real Cream’ symbol. This symbol is
consumers’ assurance that no imported butteroil/sugar blends have been used and
the ice cream made with 100 per cent Canadian dairy ingredients.

“We didn’t re-invent the wheel,” Radey says, standing on the sidewalk
outside. A crowd is gathering as a few more boats moor up in the lock.
“It really is quite recreational … but there is something about the
boats and the water.”


Cameron Wood is an Ontario-based journalist and former editor of
Canadian Pizza Magazine. He can be reached at cameronjwood@yahoo.com.