I bet you didn't know where I was going with that! All kidding aside, a couple weeks, I had the opportunity to sit down with Peter Biro, Co-Founder and CEO of Third Slice and Co-Founder and Partner of Massachusetts Burger Enterprises LLC (one of the Nation's largest franchisees of Five Guys Burgers and Fries), to chat food. It never ceases to amaze me how food can instantly bring people together. Within minutes of meeting Peter, I could tell he shared the same passion for food that I do so when he asked me if he could write a guest post on his newest venture, NAKEDPizza, and I happily agreed before I even read the content. Should be a blogger no-no but when someone has such clear cut passion, I knew he'd have a good story to tell. And that he does....plus pictures of his 11 hour round trip trek to Rochester....all in the name of food..
"My team and I shlepped 720 miles on Saturday to show solidarity with our fellow NAKEDPizza developer located in Rochester, NY. We had limited time, so we went there and back in a day. That's a total of 11 hours of driving for 3 hours "on the ground" together with Tim and Scott and their crew, and a couple of the corporate team up from New Orleans. Worth every minute and every dollar.
Naked Pizza - Now Open in NY!
First and foremost, the pizza was great. NAKEDPizza is a natural, healthier pizza that (IMHO) tastes delicious and has less fat, calories, sugar, and freaky chemicals. Sort of the Chipotle of pizza, or for locals, the Ana's Taqueria of pizza. I decided to become a developer and try to build out a big piece of New England after flying to New Orleans and trying it. As a franchisee, you spend a lot of time "in the weeds", meaning that you are dealing with trivia that makes it hard to remember why you loved the concept in the first place. After polishing off half a Smokehouse pie (chicken, BBQ sauce, red onion -- much yum at about 200 calories per slice), I did.
Naked Pizza, Rochester, NY
Second, I love my team. Jeff (our Ops VP), Liz (marketing/community) and I not only survived the car trip but had a blast. I have always believed that the best team-building is winning. I am convinced now that tortuously long drives are the second-best. Yes, we made fun of each other a lot: Jeff's very slow driving, Liz's ability to crank out MBA homework while listening to us yapping, my obsession with checking into obscure rest areas on Foursquare. Did you know that Albany, NY is a place on Foursquare and has a mayor who, of course, is not the actual mayor? Or that the NY State Thruway has a Rome, an Amsterdam, and a Poland? Neither did I.
Check out those lines!
But we also kicked around ideas for the business and most importantly, talked about what we want it to be when it grows up. We talked about our mission of healthier neighborhoods and revolutionizing franchising. Trust me, you can't do that when you're in the weeds.
Third, we learned a lot that will help us make our Brighton and Coolidge Corner launches a success. How to throw a grand opening shindig in cold weather. The importance of drink variety and product consistency with a crazy crowd snaking out the door. When direct mail should hit and how to follow it up. Why you need 2x4 inch stickers spit from the point-of-sale printer and not 2x2 inch stickers (it has to do w/multiple toppings). When to have the face-painter for the kids show up (early, early, early). Seeing is understanding.
Finally, we showed support for our fellow franchisee. Franchising is not for the faint of heart, and franchising with a brand new concept definitely takes an iron constitution, not to mention the occasional stiff drink. Building relationships is crucial, not to mention immensely satisfying. I think Tim and Scott appreciated our being there, and I also bet that they think about my group as a unit now, and not just as me. Plus, we got ourselves into some of their pictures.
So yes it was a hassle spending 9am - 2:30pm in the car, then 3 hours in Victor, NY (3 1/4 if you count the obligatory Starbucks run - peppermint mochas are back, baby!), and then 6pm - 11:30pm in the car again. But would we do it again? Definitely. Will we do it again? Well, that's a different story..."
Peter is planning to bring NAKEDPizza to Brighton (433 Washington Street) in January and in February, Naked Pizza will be in Coolidge Corner, at 1331 Beacon Street (the old Quiznos). With plans to expand to other local locations, they have a community-minded approach to doing business and want to get to know the neighbors. To connect with them via Twitter, follow them @nakedpizzabos. I look forward to welcoming them to the Coolidge Corner location!