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Grimaldi’s is capitalizing on a century-old baking type using coal-fired ovens and now, with operations all in place, the corporate is embracing franchising.

| by Mandy Wolf Detwiler — Managing Editor, Networld Media Group

The origin story of coal-fired pizza started in a small bakery in Brooklyn over 100 years in the past. Since Manhattan had strict guidelines in opposition to coal-fired ovens, followers of the savory deal with needed to cross the Brooklyn Bridge discover it.

Coal-fired pizza provides a novel taste to pizza dough and bakes quick. Grimaldi’s Pizzeria opened on the base of the Brooklyn Bridge in 1990 with coal-fired pizza in thoughts. The flagship restaurant options three flooring and may accommodate greater than 100 diners. Right here you may discover basic red-checkered tablecloths, handcrafted hanging wine bottle chandeliers and basic photographs of Brooklyn. However it’s the coal-fired oven — which might warmth to greater than 1,000 levels — that takes middle stage.

“We at Grimaldi’s delight ourselves on staying true to that genuine pizza-making custom that started over 100 years in the past,” mentioned Michael Flaum, COO of Grimaldi’s, in a telephone interview.

CEO Joe Ciolli, purchased the Brooklyn restaurant 2003 and opened a second Grimaldi’s in Previous City Scottsdale, Arizona, the identical 12 months. Possession moved the corporate’s headquarters to Scottsdale as effectively.

As we speak, there are 41 company-owned shops and three company-owned satellite tv for pc kitchens.

Franchising efforts started in 2019. Growth agreements have been awarded to 2 home franchisees for Alabama, the primary in Huntsville opening within the subsequent 30 days, and a second within the Birmingham space, which may even probably open in 2022. A growth deal has been inked for 5 items within the United Arab Emirates, with the primary unit starting building in Abu Dhabi and a second in Dubai.

The plan is to open six eating places in 2022 whereas on the similar time coming into into the fast-casual market in Arizona this 12 months.

“Our purpose is to get Grimaldi’s into each neighborhood throughout the nation and to get our brick-and-mortars completely different from what our quick casuals are,” Flaum mentioned. That features smaller shops capable of be constructed into tighter spots than the full-service eating places require.

Grimaldi’s continues to open in markets wherein they function and depend on franchising in new markets. “We do not wish to be opponents of our franchisees,” Flaum mentioned. “There isn’t any finite proportion of company-owned shops to franchised eating places.”

On the menu

On the forefront of each Grimaldi’s is its custom-built brick coal-fired oven with its pizzaiolos entrance and middle.

“They’re actually the point of interest of our restaurant,” Flaum mentioned. “We construct that restaurant round that oven as a result of we would like folks to see how we make that product. That is actually our showcase, and that is what we actually like our visitors to have the ability to see and expertise.”

Flaum mentioned the ovens aren’t onerous to function and do not use that a lot coal.

Pizzas and calzones are handcrafted, salads are made recent and Grimaldi’s is understood for his or her decadent desserts. There’s additionally a curated wine listing with a signature wine.

Pizzas are available in 12-, 16- and 18-inch sizes, and pepperoni, as normal, is the No. 1 topping. The Caesar salad is the best choice for salads.

Dough can be made in home and toppings are lower recent, as is the cheesecake.

“We just about do all the things in home,” Flaum mentioned, “handcrafted, hand designed and customised by the visitor.”

Assembly challenges head on

Grimaldi’s considers itself a “folks first” group. The model pays retention and referral bonuses to staff, “and we proceed to fulfill the challenges associated to the pandemic so far as labor and sourcing, however the labor scarcity was felt by all the restaurant business,” Flaum mentioned. “Many eating places are understaffed, and distributors have been struggling to retain drivers to keep up supply schedules.”

To help in labor points, Flaum mentioned they’ve cross utilized their staff and have an awesome status as employers of their respective communities. “We have been capable of mitigate the chance of labor shortages due to these items, and in contrast to many different eating places we have been capable of hold all of eating places open,” Flaum mentioned.

In relation to working with suppliers, the model is continually reviewing its relationships with distributors and repair suppliers to make sure they’re receiving high quality service. They’ve a procurement division that manages these expectations and relationships.

On the tech facet

Grimaldi’s is at all times on the lookout for new know-how to assist operations. On the finish of 2020, Grimaldi’s launched a complete app. It had improved its on-line ordering system when COVID-19 hit, so the model was already arrange for the onslaught of on-line orders that may observe the implementation of lockdowns.

The corporate’s loyalty program, Grimaldi’s Rewards, permits clients to get factors for frequent eating and get a free pizza on their birthday.

Grimaldi’s continues to make the most of know-how to assist hold buyer expertise on the forefront of its operations.

“We’re persevering with to have a look at how know-how matches in to what we do and the way we will make the visitor expertise higher,” Flaum mentioned.

Setting Grimaldi’s aside

Grimaldi’s is concerned within the communities wherein the eating places are constructed. In 2021, the corporate made a donation of $102,000 to its non-profit companions, together with the American Coronary heart Affiliation and No Child Hungry.

“I believe that enables us to create the notice of who we’re and what we’re about,” Flaum mentioned, “and when visitors are available in and take a look at us, we have now an awesome product. The coal-fired pizzas are completely different than what you get elsewhere.”

Nice meals and nice service that results in memorable visitor experiences additionally set the corporate other than its opponents.

“Individuals love coming to Grimaldi’s as a result of Grimaldi’s gives an excellent eating expertise,” Flaum mentioned, “and it is simply the neighborhood institution that everyone can go to and revel in high quality merchandise and high quality service.”

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