Q&A with Pizza Pilgrims - Pizza in the Post Kits #LeithsTakeovers

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Q&A with Pizza Pilgrims - Pizza in the Post Kits #LeithsTakeovers

As a hospitality business in the current climate, Pizza Pilgrims had to find a way to keep their brand alive, support their staff and inspire their customers. This led to their lockdown launch of Pizza in the Post; a concept which has taken off nationwide and has no plans of slowing down!

Tell us a bit about the launch of Pizza Pilgrims, where did the idea stem from?

We both worked corporate jobs that we were burning out in, we had this idea to go to Italy and see what the mother land for pizza could offer us in our mission to learn to make pizza. We were obsessed with pizza and we wanted to know the history and culture that generations have kept alive...so we did it! In 2011 we went to Italy and bought a tiny little Piaggio Ape van and took a tour of Italy. We met incredible people, who have turned into life long friends and suppliers, and we learnt more than we could have ever wished and it changed our lives. The Ape came back with us to the UK and we started Pizza Pilgrims on Berwick Street Market; we grew a really strong regular customer base and then it just spiralled from there! Our first site Dean Street will always have a special place for us, but every site has meaning attached to it too.

How has Pizza Pilgrims pivoted its business in response to the national lockdown?

We’ve always had this little idea in the back of our minds when we found out you could make a bang-on Neapolitan pizza in a frying pan. It just so happened that all the ingredients fit perfectly in a pizza box so it literally became pizza in the post. We wanted to create something fun and easy for people to use and do during lockdown and so it just made sense to launch it. We knew we needed a way to keep the brand alive and to try and support some of our staff as best we could. We thought we’d sell maybe 100 a week? We opened our online store with 50 kits, thinking that would see us through for the week and it sold out within seconds, the next day they sold even faster. It turned out people loved them and we’ve sold over 20,000 so far! It’s been incredible to see it take off and it’s been so amazing seeing everyone’s pizzas and topping hacks on Instagram. Whilst we think this is a genuine commercial opportunity for the brand going forward, the main achievement has been to provide a ray of hope for both our team and our customers in a sea of negativity.

“the main achievement has been to provide a ray of hope for both our team and our customers in a sea of negativity”

Do you see these home dining kits as being integral to the future of hospitality?

We think it’s an incredible, challenging journey for all hospitality businesses; it’s a chance for your customer basis to become so incredibly wide and diverse. We reached people who may have never even come to Pizza Pilgrims in London, but who are now regular customers from their homes in Manchester. It’s fantastic and such a unique and different avenue for growth. We personally are looking to make Pizza in the Post a permanent part of Pizza Pilgrims and hope others do the same.

What are the differences between preparing ingredients for meal kits, and for dishes served from your restaurants?

The actual preparation of the ingredients is exactly the same, but their final resting place is different. When we are packing kits, it is amazing how different the set-up has to be, to efficiently pack the kits as opposed to running a restaurant kitchen. We were packing the kits in our Victoria site and the kitchen was significantly altered to enable us to do this effectively, but now our own dedicated facility in Herne Hill to pack the kits has been a game changer.

“it’s a chance for your customer basis to become so incredibly wide and diverse”

What advice would you give to those in or thinking about a hospitality career/food entrepreneurs in the current climate?

Try and think outside the box, it’s definitely a strange time but growth can definitely happen, be wise about who’s on your team, a strong team is so important and make sure you know your stuff! You want to stand out, you want people to gravitate towards and they’ll do that if you are passionate about what you want to do.

What’s next for Pizza Pilgrims? Might we see some other DIY kits in the near future? Definitely! Pizza Kits are here to stay and we are just working on growing and building what we can do with them (maybe some cheeky collabs and new topping options). It’s such a fun project that we are really proud of and can’t wait to see it grow more! We’ve seen that people really love working on their skills, we are really keen to get our Camden Academy up and running, both professionally to help people jump start their careers in hospitality, but also for customers to come in and take a pizza class. Our team loves teaching classes at Leiths and we can’t wait to start those again soon.

Author: Liv Shaheen

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