The Pizza Story! by: Michael Fritsch, owner, Eastside Big Tom / Big Tom Pizza
To my family and friends I’ve talked about opening up a separate pizza spot on the grounds for more than two decades. Obviously, there was no room to attempt anything out of the drive-thru, but I own the entire block front, so there’s room, there just had to be the right time.
The right time came this fall. We’d had a great run over in the ice cream shack, the neighborhood embraced it in a big way, enough that I had to hire more staff over the spring and summer. The problem was, as a walk-up spot, the second the weather worsened, sales plummeted. Suddenly I had no sales to support four employees for five months. Normal industry practice is to button the place up, lay off, or fire the entire staff, and reopen in the spring. I couldn’t do that. Not my style.
Instead, I spent 20K+ on pizza equipment, and we spent the next several months perfecting our craft. We passed out samples for the first two months, taking criticism and praise alike, until the criticism fell away and the praise grew. While everybody in town was preparing to watch football the first weekend of February this year, we quietly opened up and sold 108 pizzas. Success! The biggest smile on my face came from the fact that I was not only able to keep everyone employed, I hired a new staff member to help that first weekend. In the weeks since, we’ve had to hire six new staff members between burgers and pizza as the option to get either either or, or both, has driven a lot of families in to see us. It’s pretty common to see families in the seating area eating both burgers and pizza at the same table.
Helping drive our pizza sales is the choices we’re offering. We have Take N Bake, Gluten Free Take N Bake, & We Bake. 8″ and 15″ available in the We Bake. What sets us apart is that we make Pizzas that others can’t. We can make you a Big Tom Pizza, a Dirty Bird Pizza, Taters N Gravy Pizza, Vegetarian Dirty Bird Pizza, Dessert Pizza (that doesn’t involve cinnamon), as well the every day favorites that you expect to find in all the pizza places.
To make things easier, the website has been revamped for online ordering. www.eastsidebigtoms.com. Check out the menu, call it in, or use the app and order via your phone. Yep, there’s a Big Tom app for your phone so you can order on the go. I really wanted this to work so I could keep everyone employed.
Am I going to lose focus of the burger stand? Hardly. I’ve still got the most amazing staff of any business in town, they’ve got my back. Plus, I’m still a terribly bothersome micro-manager, so I can’t ever turn my back on the business completely, nor would I want to, as I have way too much fun. Now I’ve just got two or three things, if you count the ice cream shack, to muck about in all day.
OK, this went longer than expected, but that’s not a surprise to any of you that have ever talked to me in person, it’s kind of my style.
Thanks for the support Olympia/Lacey/Tumwater.
I love you all, Michael