Bar Pizza Can Be Hot for Bottom Line

By Vladik Rikhter


As you may recall from my blog about craft beer, I have a bit of a fascination for the town of Asbury Park, NJ. Who wouldn’t when the hottest restaurant in town is a German beer hall that has no televised sports but still manages to draw a crowd on a Sunday?

Well there’s another bar in Asbury Park that has picked up on the hot trend of bar pizza. The joint is Johnny Mac’s and if you visit their website, the first words that will greet you are “Free Pizza. Every Day. All Day.” That’s right. Johnny Mac’s invites you to buy a brew and enjoy a slice on the house. It’s a genius business move: Spend some dough on pizza, upsell on the beer.

But Johnny’s Macs isn’t ordering out, either. They’re making it from scratch, and they have it down to a science. It’s piping hot from the oven and made with fresh ingredients—it’s an artisanal pizza.

What is a Bar Pizza?

According to Margot’s Pizza in Brooklyn, (a borough that’s arguably the birthplace of modern pizza), bar pizzas have four distinct qualities:

  1. Very thin crust
  2. Crisp
  3. Well-done without being burnt
  4. Large enough to share but small enough to champ it on your own

As Pizza Today notes, Margot’s pizza founder Adam Kuban started out as a pizza blogger when he decided to start his own pizza place based on growing trends. Instead of just opening another pizza parlor, he took the bar pizza concept and made it the center of the business.

So under this business model, the food comes first and the booze comes second. That makes a great deal of sense when it’s much easier to mess up a pizza than it is to mess up a drink order.

The Takeaway

As with any expansion into fresh foodservice, there’s sanitation requirements and maintenance needs in terms of foodservice equipment.

While the moon may hit your eye with dollar signs, serving up a pizza pie doesn’t happen overnight. It requires planning and inventory stocking, and even some personnel adjustments (who’s making the bar pizza vs. who’s serving the bar pizza).

If you own multiple locations, you might want to pilot the service at one of your locations before rolling out the concept. That’s generally a good rule for any foodservice rollout—gather information from the field and share it with your network before taking the leap. You don’t want a subpar menu item to detract from your brand. Measure results to get it right from the start!

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