Inspiring Business by Sharing Success

Derby pizza business created in lockdown is booming – and owner is planning on opening more venues in the city

Derby pizza business created in lockdown is booming – and owner is planning on opening more venues in the city

A DERBY-BASED restauranteur who set up a successful New York-style pizza takeaway in the city during the first national lockdown, says he is now planning to build the brand and open more outlets after it proved to be a big hit.

 

Easton Andrea says that he is thoroughly enjoying the experience of operating True Pizzas; formerly Honest Pizzas, which opened in June last year and, spurred on by its success, Easton and wife Anastasia are planning on opening more takeouts in and around Derby – with free pizza for punters when each site opens its doors.

To move the business on, it has had a rebrand with new uniform for staff members, bespoke boxes which feature the True Pizza-brand ethos and the business has also launched its own delivery service, which has been a big hit.

Easton has paid tribute to staff at True Pizzas for their support over what has been a challenging year for the hospitality industry and says that he is excited about creating more jobs for local people in the city.

“These are exciting times for True Pizzas,” said Easton, who also runs the hugely successful gastropub, House of Darwin, in Chellaston.

“Running True Pizzas is fun; the scalability of the brand is massive and the people of Derby have been thoroughly enjoying our pizzas during the last 10 months. We’re the number one-rated place for takeaway pizza on TripAdvisor and we’ve worked hard to achieve that.

“I do, though, have to pay tribute to the amazing team I have working with me. True Pizzas is like a family; we have been through so much together since opening and, as we grow, I’d like to think of True Pizzas as being somewhere that can provide jobs for local people and that we can create fantastic opportunities for the team we have here.

“We have a strong female-led team at True Pizzas and, for me, I think it’s inspiring to see them doing so well in a traditionally male-dominated industry.”

Michaela Binova is the driver co-ordinator at True Pizzas and, once the new venue opens, she will replace Sarah Allsopp as manager of the Manor Road venue. Sarah, meanwhile, will move to the new site.

A former bank worker from the Czech Republic, Michaela moved to England four years ago to work in the hospitality industry as she wanted “to work with humans and not computers”.

She has spent the last 18 months as general manager at House of Darwin and sees the move to True Pizzas as a challenge.

“The uncertainty of the past year-and-a-half was difficult but, for me, the hardest bit about running a restaurant during the coronavirus pandemic was not being able to have a proper conversation with our customers,” she said, “I’m a people-person and was used to chatting to the rest of the team and customer. I always made time for a chat as I think it’s so important.

“I’ve been working as driver co-ordinator at True Pizzas for the last few months and have really enjoyed it; we like to provide the same customer service experience in our take-out that you would expect in a restaurant and that, for me, is why True Pizzas has been such a huge success.”

Sarah, who worked as general manager of Frankie and Benny’s – the former residents of the site on Manor Road – said that being appointed manager of True Pizzas was “like coming home” and that the relationship which the ‘close-knit’ team has helps with its success.

“It’s a bit of a cliché but, like Easton has said, we’re like one big family and work so well together,” she said, “I love the idea of True Pizzas, its company ethos and plans for expansion. I can’t wait for the new site to open and to really push True Pizzas on.”

Coronavirus and the national lockdowns have changed the way in which the UK shops, eats and cooks.

Restrictions have meant that we’ve made the most of our local, independent retailers and supported their businesses. As pubs and restaurants have been forced to close their doors, the people behind these venues have been forced to innovate their business model in order to survive.

Easton, who comes from a large family of restaurant-owners, knows only too well how the hospitality industry has suffered over the past 18 months – and he’s excited for the future of True Pizzas.

“It’s easy to say that pizza businesses are profitable,” he said, “but it wasn’t until the start of 2021 that we really started taking True Pizzas seriously and stopped thinking of it as a stop-gap.

“We began looking for units around Derby in which we could open more takeaways and, three years from now, I’d like to have five True Pizzas outlets in and around the city.”

There has been huge demand for pizza; True Pizzas make around 100 pizzas per hour on a busy Saturday evening and their mega 18-inch efforts are currently the biggest takeaway pizzas you can buy in Derby.

The classic pepperoni has proved a best-seller with the folk of Derby, closely followed by a margarita.

“We pride ourselves on a personable service and recently installed a caller ID on our phones, so that we can answer the phone to our regular customers by mentioning their name,” added Easton.

“The people we employ are local to the area and are friendly, hard-working people; the delivery service which we have recently started sees us employ our own drivers and those who choose to collect their pizzas, wait in the car and have it delivered to them by our staff. This way of delivering our pizzas came as a result of covid but we’re thinking of making it a permanent feature.

“We’ve created personalised pizzas for our regular customers – we recently created a heart-shaped pizza – and our ethos is that we sell high-quality, New York-style pizzas to the people of Derby for a reasonable price using fresh ingredients.

“All of our hand-stretched pizzas are made fresh with the dough we make on site, proved for a minimum of 24 hours. We always use 100 per cent mozzarella; no additives or preservatives.”

Easton is quick to point out, too, how important social media has been to the True Pizzas brand.

They have more than 25,000 followers on Instagram, the social media platform which revolutionised the way in which we think of food.

“It’s hard to remember a time when we didn’t take a quick picture of our food and post it on social media before tucking into it,” added Easton, “Instagram is huge for us; to be successful in our business, you have to have a good following on the platform and create a community.

“Social media is about so much more than selling your business. Collaborations between brands can be lucrative and great exposure. This is something which we’re hoping to explore more in the future, with trips to New York pizza restaurants planned for later in the year, when we can travel, and something which we’re very excited about.”


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