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Customer price-sensitivity

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
I've been making pizza for friends at parties for close to 20 years now, and everybody loves it. They always clean me out of pretty much everything I prepped, and I generally do about 16 pizzas/night, which feeds around 30 people as a main course.

The dough is made with local stone ground unbleached flour and bottled water and has a 2 day rise, and local produce and meats are used for the sauce and toppings.

Lately I've been considering buying a portable wood-fired oven (trailer) and doing private parties like wedding receptions, etc.

It's pretty phenomenal pizza, but because of the extra costs for ingredients and prep time, and the cost of a trailer with a brick oven on it, I would need to charge more for it than people are used to paying at the local Pizza Hut.

Does anybody have any idea if customers would be willing to pay more for a really excellent product cooked on-site, or would I need to compete on price with the standard $12 product found at local shops.

Any input would be appreciated.


post #2 of 15
It sounds really great, but to be honest I would have to say no. No matter how delicious it is, people generally still consider pizza something that is no greater than pizza hut or taco bell. If it is somewhat within the price range, I could definitely see that, but if its anything more or close to twice the price, I say no.
post #3 of 15
well its kida crazy how much people will pay for pizza, i have worked in pizza for 5 years and we charge 25.99 for a 16" combo.

this is also in a college town, but we do A LOT of bussness.
post #4 of 15
I think people would be willing to pay more for your pizza, but I'm not sure
weddings are your market. Even if you had a bride that wanted pizza, there would be lots of other food involved which means that you'd be subcontracted by another caterer or would have to provide full service yourself.

Very interesting concept, though. Keep us posted.
post #5 of 15
I have to disagree with the notion that people will not spend money on good quality pizza. For the $12-$15 people pay for Pizza Hut/Domino's/Crap they would happily pay $20-$25 for a quality pizza. The way I look at it is like this: If your clients' only concerns are to stuff their face with pizza-flavored food, then you may be barking up the wrong tree with your business plan, however, if your clients truly enjoy and can appreciate quality pizza, then it is your obligation to provide it to them...especially if there is no other source to get a quality pizza.

I come from Chicago, so good pizza is something that I take seriously and would pay a premium for. I understand that there may be other areas of the country that feel differently about that than I do...or is it maybe they don't know any better? I am not sure, that is for you to figure out. What I do know, however, is that no one should ever go through life thinking that the best pizza around is Pizza Hut.
post #6 of 15
Thread Starter 
I talked to the Health Department today, and it sounds like it's just going to be way too much time and money just to make pizza for weekend parties.

Apparently I have to have a permit, which costs a couple of hundred dollars/year, and require that I use a commercial kitchen for the prep work, and the kitchen needs to be inspected and requires it's own permit for another couple of hundred dollars/year.

They also need to inspect the oven, whatever that means (it's brick, has a hole in the front that you throw wood into and smoke comes out the top), and they're sending over a book full of regulations I have to follow.

All I wanted to do was make people happy with some really nice, simple pizza, and it's turning into a production like I'm trying to open a McDonalds.

If this were someplace where it's nice most of the year, it would be one thing, but we get a little over a dozen nice warm weekends/year, which just doesn't seem like enough to make this business self-sufficient. 8-(

post #7 of 15
Why don't you just use a church kitchen for your prep work? I don't see why regulations is a bad thing, it gives you credibility and if you cant comply then you probably shouldnt be doing it in the first place right?

On top of permits you will need liability insurance for sure. Don't start crying wolf.. I work two jobs, and spend all my money and free time on expanding my catering business. I am 24, single, I am self taught, have all the proper licenses, training, equipment, you name it, do I suffer? Heck yes I do, no sleep, no money.. but if you want to do it and a few things stop you from proceeding then maybe you're not really determined enough?

post #8 of 15
I think you're better off opening a pizza restaurant or takeout.
post #9 of 15
Thread Starter 
Not good enough. At least around here, the Health Dept. said the church kitchens don't have to meet the same standards and wouldn't be acceptable. I can rent a place, but it would be cost-prohibitive.
I guess that's where we're different. I have no desire to suffer. I'm 50+, and have a good job and a family and wanted to do this on the weekends over the summer and fall for private parties and special events, just because I really like making it and people really like eating it.

Things would be a lot different if I was 20 and just getting started.

post #10 of 15
some churches do have inspected kitchens....mine for one......most don't go to the effort but can easily be brought up to code if they are not already.

one of my shroom buddies built a brick oven in his backyard, has super parties......

reads like that's what you are really wanting anyway. believe me when you spend all the 12 beautiful weekends a year cooking for someone else's party your family will be wondering when you're going to show up....
cooking with all your senses.....
cooking with all your senses.....
post #11 of 15
And when you DO show up, you're so tired and (sometimes) cranky, they may wish you hadn't.:lol:

I'm in your age bracket and totally understand your hesitation to keep it simple. I recently had a great opportunity to expand my business, but with my youngest a junior in HS, me over 50, and the loans I'd have to take on, I decided I'm happy, and not so tired and cranky right where I am.

Now, if I could find myself a 30 year old to partner up with....
post #12 of 15
I know see what you mean, I think if I was 30 years older I would be in the same boat as you, but like shroom mentioned, I think the church is probably your best option..

I'm happy that catering is a bit of a struggle though as bad as it sounds, it seperates a lot of people from doing it. I don't personally know another caterer around my area, it's as if I am of dying breed. I've been going at it slowly over the last 1.5 years and I am happy how it is growing, I am going away for a few days but I will keep thinking about the question you posed.

post #13 of 15

Customer price sensitivity

Web Monkey, I have been reading this thread and thinking about it for a few days. Like you and lentil, I am 50's and ave no desire to start a new struggle. I also started catering because so many people loved my food and wanted me to cook for them - and I loved doing it!! Seven ears later, although I still enjoy it, it is now WORK rather than FUN.

And believe me, it is VERY HARD WORK... My DH says every time he helps me with a job that catering is the hardest work he has ever done. I agree that it should be done by the book - I also agree if i you could find a kitchen to afordably rent while you do a few jobs and try it out, you would be much better off.

Your original question, before we all put our 2 cents in, was whether people would pay high end for pizza - My answer is YES. I think good pizza is expensive and you could market to the type of client you want. Good luck, I like the idea, but wouldn;t expect to make much for a while.
post #14 of 15
Thread Starter 
I'm also a little worried about turning fun into work.

For now, I think I'll build the wood-fired oven, put it in the backyard and throw neighborhood parties when I feel like it.

I appreciate everybody's input, but will probably not pursue this as a commercial venture until I retire. At that point, my wife and I could spend time working various festivals and traveling around the country following the nice weather.

post #15 of 15

Customer price sensitivity

Great idea!
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