A Q&A with Alex Geiger, Owner of Classic Crust Pizza in Phoenix, AZ
Classic Crust Pizza is a neighborhood pizzeria, decorated with hot rod art and spinning a classic rock soundtrack capturing the vibe of the area that has many automotive shops nearby. We’re a family run operation. We do slices and whole pies in many sizes. We have a small bar that features local beer on tap and a dining room that holds 36 people. Takeout and delivery have always been core to our business.
Our pizza is hand-tossed New York style and we also offer a Sicilian deep-dish pizza. We’ve dialed in a dough recipe that works well in our hot, dry desert climate. Our oven doesn’t get tremendously hot, so we added some organic agave nectar, a local ingredient, into the dough to get some additional browning on the crust. We have a rotating deck oven that holds 16 large pizzas, which lets us run smoothly during peak hours.
How were you able to pivot during the COVID19 crisis?
The governor, in Arizona, is allowing restaurants to sell alcohol for takeout and delivery during the COVID crisis. We were gearing up to add a growler license before COVID hit, so we already had some of the bottles in stock. We’re keeping the taps flowing, albeit it at about half the volume before the COVID crisis.
We’re seeing heavy demand for pizza on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights. Our rush is super bowl-level crazy on the weekends. We already had a strong online presence, and now we are operating with online orders comprising 95 percent of our sales. We’ve been successful in converting phone customers to online customers. This allows them to make their payment securely and safely, while allowing us to focus on making the pies instead of entering orders. There’s a huge added benefit of 100-percent information capture and automatically signing up the customers for loyalty, e-mail, and SMS marketing.
We’re ahead of the game when it comes to technology thanks to our Ordermark tablet. Back in November, UberEats reached out to us inviting us to create a virtual restaurant, and WingSpot AZ was born. We’ve seen a tremendous increase in sales on our virtual restaurant since joining up with Ordermark. They helped get us on more third-party platforms, which has offset the drop in slice and beer sales.
How have you been able to use this time to enhance your business?
We were planning on launching an additional virtual restaurant, in July, when our business typically slows down in Arizona. We’ve accelerated that plan and will be launching BurgerSpot AZ in the very near future. Launching a virtual restaurant is similar to opening another restaurant, you have to figure out menus, branding, social media and advertising. The bigger your online presence, the more sales you will have.
Alex talks more on virtual restaurants.