Friday, February 23, 2024

The evolution of Mazzio’s Italian Eatery: Expanded menu, footprint makes model a standout | 1-on-1 with Pizza Management

Mazzio’s Italian Eatery is a 108-unit pizza model based mostly out of Oklahoma. For the previous a number of years, the model has been overhauling its current eating places and constructing its tech stack.

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

Evolution is a pure a part of a restaurant model, particularly one with longevity like Mazzio’s Italian Eatery. The model started as Ken’s Pizza Parlor in 1961 when founder Ken Selby, a trainer by commerce, wished to moonlight as a pizzaiolo and opened his first pizzeria.

A second unit opened in 1965, and the corporate was rebranded as Ken’s Pizza. It was a easy idea with thin-crust pizza, salads and sodas. Selby grew the Ken’s Pizza idea to greater than 100 places. Later, Selby, a serial entrepreneur, wished to broaden the menu, so he created Mazzio’s Italian Eatery in 1979, which now provides a number of dough varieties, sandwiches, buffets and bigger footprints.

Most of the Ken’s Pizza places have been later transformed to Mazzio’s eating places, although there are a handful of Ken’s nonetheless working underneath licenses. Mazzio’s Italian Eatery now has 108 models in seven states, with a very good portion of these positioned in Oklahoma, the place Mazzio’s relies. Sixty of these are company owned.

The eating places are counter service, with a number of nonetheless working as full service.

Although Selby handed away a number of years in the past, the corporate is owned and operated by his youngsters, mentioned Stuart Myers, VP of gross sales and advertising, in a telephone interview. Lori Carver serves as president and CEO.

On the menu

Mazzio’s nonetheless provides the signature thin-crust pizza on which the corporate was based but additionally has a hand-tossed authentic dough, a pan pizza and a stuffed crust.

“The skinny crust, due to the Ken’s heritage, is basically the place we bought our begin, and to today it nonetheless represents in all probability 40-45% of our pizza gross sales,” Myers mentioned. “The skinny crust is basically what bought us the place we’re at this time.”

There are a variety of sauces, together with the unique Ken’s model, a zesty tomato sauce.

“We have a buyer base that’s insanely loyal,” Myers mentioned. “A whole lot of our prospects are nonetheless with us since again once we have been Ken’s, and as such, lots of people will order skinny crust with Ken’s sauce, and it is principally a replication of the unique Ken’s pizza, which you’ll be able to nonetheless get at this time at any Mazzio’s location.”

Create-your-own pizzas are the highest sellers, with pepperoni and cheese making up roughly 50% of pizza gross sales. The Combo, with pepperoni, sausage, inexperienced peppers, crimson onions, mushrooms and black olives, is a prime specialty pizza, as is the 4 Meat that includes pepperoni, sausage, Italian sausage and beef. The Six Meat has all of the toppings of the 4 Meat with the addition of Canadian bacon and bacon. Mazzio’s can be recognized for its Taco and Greek pizzas.

Pizza represents 75-80% of gross sales, Myers estimated.

Nonetheless, the menu’s wing choices have grown considerably. Myers mentioned the model operates in some small counties and cities the place good wings are exhausting to return by.

“We understand in a number of these smaller cities, the patron’s entry to an excellent wing product is pretty restricted,” Myers mentioned. “We have a superb wing product and as such, we really feel that there is room for us to seize market share within the wing enterprise in a number of our markets. That is going to be a part of our future development plans so far as constructing transactions and gross sales at our current places.”

To succeed in Millennials and Gen Z, Mazzio’s started providing oval-shaped avenue pizzas in varieties just like the Boss Hog with mini pepperoni, ham, pork sausage and bacon and the Mama Mia, which options an herb oil mix, grilled hen, artichokes, black olives, feta cheese, tomatoes and pepperoncini.

“From a advertising standpoint, we’re all the time conscientious of bringing in that subsequent technology of Mazzio’s prospects,” Myers mentioned. The model wished to create a product that may attraction to a youthful visitor it has dubbed the “taste adventurer” who enjoys daring flavors and is prepared to take dangers to find new tastes discovered at locations like meals vehicles.

The model makes its dough in home, chops and roasts greens on web site and makes its personal sauces utilizing a proprietary mix of seasonings. Even Mazzio’s well-known Ranch dressing, recognized fondly as “Oklahoma ketchup,” is made every day in five-gallon batches.

“We nonetheless do a number of stuff from scratch that individuals aren’t prepared to do anymore,” Myers mentioned.

Supplied by Mazzio’s Italian Eatery


Like its meals, Mazzio’s locations nice emphasis on its operations as effectively.

“New-store development has actually not been a part of our technique for the previous a number of years,” Myers mentioned, including the model has as a substitute been specializing in upgrading and modernizing its current places. “Have in mind a number of our eating places are mature. And since Lori has been CEO, we have been putting a number of our emphasis on upgrading our current services.”

Mazzio’s execs are additionally making a extra worthwhile enterprise mannequin.

“Now that we have got a number of our current places upgraded, we’re completely different fashions for gross sales capability and profitability as a result of over the following years, we’re going to be shifting right into a unit-growth mode,” Myers mentioned, including “each via franchising and growing and constructing extra company places.”

Like many pizza manufacturers, Mazzio’s has develop into extra centered on off-premise eating, together with carryout and supply. The buildings the model constructed 30 or 40 years in the past “do not essentially make sense on this atmosphere for the pizza class,” Myers mentioned, “so that is the path we’re shifting in.”

Myers mentioned Mazzio’s was forward of its time with its concentrate on expertise early on by using a name heart. The decision heart transmits orders to the shops, and the corporate’s POS expertise should concentrate on accommodating that decision heart, which is much less frequent for pizza manufacturers.

The model has additionally been upgrading its on-line and cellular ordering platforms as effectively.

“So far as a number of the tech goes, we concentrate on ensuring that we have got a really user-friendly and an excellent person expertise on cell phones and desktop … a number of the expertise that we’re chasing down is definitely back-of-the-house expertise. Cooking expertise,” Myers mentioned.

That does not embrace robotics, he mentioned, however focuses on efficiencies obtainable to eating places that assist cooking velocity. It is not essentially shopper going through, however the model is attempting to provide its workers the absolute best instruments to create persistently nice meals each time and maximize time throughout peak hours, particularly on the weekends.

Mazzio’s Italian Eatery added single-serve avenue pizzas to draw a youthful viewers. Picture supplied by Mazzio’s Italian Eatery

Mandy Wolf Detwiler is the managing editor at Networld Media Group and the positioning editor for and She has greater than 20 years’ expertise overlaying meals, folks and locations.
An award-winning print journalist, Mandy brings greater than 20 years’ expertise to Networld Media Group. She has spent practically twenty years overlaying the pizza business, from impartial pizzerias to multi-unit chains and each dimension enterprise in between. Mandy has been featured on the Meals Community and has received quite a few awards for her protection of the restaurant business. She has an insatiable urge for food for studying, and may inform you the place to search out the very best slices within the nation after spending 15 years touring and consuming pizza for a residing. 

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