How Sammy’s Pizza was created, how it’s been copied, and what to do about it
Posted On July 5, 2021
Sammy Sturgis owns a pizza joint in Chicago.
But he doesn’t have a franchise.
“It’s been a long time coming,” he told Business Insider.
“There’s been this thing going on for years where people have been telling me they want me to open a restaurant and I’m just like, ‘No way,'” Sturgises explained.
“I have no idea what I’m doing.
I don’t even know what the hell I’m going to do with my life.”
For his part, Sammy said he hasn’t been too keen on opening a restaurant for quite a while.
“My whole life I’ve always wanted to open restaurants.
It’s just kind of this weird itch to do something.
I think I’m at the point where I just have to get on it,” he said.
“What do you do with this opportunity?”
Sturgise is the founder of the Pizza Express chain, which he started with his friend, Tom Kohn, in 2011.
“Pizza Express has been a tremendous success,” said Kohn.
“They’ve been doing it for 20 years, so I don [think] they’re going anywhere.
They’re probably the best-run chain in the country, period.”
But there’s one thing the pizza-and-beverage chain doesn’t offer that Pizza Express doesn’t: an order-based menu.
“We just have a few items that we’re able to offer,” Kohn said.
That’s not a huge deal, since most customers only want a few options.
“If you’re looking for a pizza and a beer, that’s what you’re going to get,” Kernos said.
But if you want something that’s not just a pizza but a salad, or a burger, or an entree, or some type of appetizer, that menu can take a bit of time to get the hang of.
“The biggest thing is getting the right ingredients.
You have to be able to get all the flavors together,” he added.
“Some people don’t have time to go out and get all of the ingredients.”
Kohn’s team has been trying to figure out what that time will take, and it’s not something they’re currently making plans for.
“Our mission has always been to bring a slice of pizza to the masses.
If we can get to that point, that would be awesome,” he explained.
But the process is complicated, and they’ve only been able to work with a few people so far.
“To get that first slice is just not going to happen,” Krom said.
The pizza-delivery startup also has to figure how to figure that out on its own.
“That’s been our main challenge,” he continued.
“Once you get that pizza and you’ve got it on the table, it’s a little bit different, you know?
You get the toppings, and the toppling options are very limited.”
That means it’s hard to really do an inventory-based ordering, Kohn explained.
Instead, they’ve started doing the same thing you would for any restaurant: ordering a pizza at random.
“So, what do we do with the pizza?
We go to the store, and we order a slice,” he noted.
“And then, what is our order?
We get a little pizza, and then we have to order a second slice.”
“That would be great,” Sturges added.
The problem is, Pizza Express isn’t a great fit for this new ordering system.
“You need to be willing to do things a little differently than what you would have done if you just did the same pizza and ordered a second one,” Kojn said.
So, what’s the next step?
Pizza Express has a lot of ideas on how they can get better.
For example, they’re looking into ways to have a loyalty program to incentivize customers to get a certain amount of pizzas a day.
But for now, Sturgies and Kohn are still figuring out how they’re supposed to get started.
“Sammy and I haven’t really been able get to grips with how we’re going do this,” Kajn said, noting that he and Kojns are both from different fields.
“For us to really get started, we’re not really sure what’s going to work for us.
We’re not sure how much time we’re actually going to have to put into it.
It kind of seems like it’s going the other way, but we don’t really know.
It’ll take a lot to get this going.”
“We’re not very good at starting a business,” Kjn added.