Episode #1 :

Perry AnaStasakis

The ups and down of owning a family business

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Our very first episode of The Mack Talks starts off with a heartwarming local business owner, Perry Anastasakis of Famous Pizza. Sometimes the best business ventures are often kept in the family, which is true for Perry’s family-owned pizza restaurant in the heart of Bethel, CT.

Keeping It in the Family: Bethel’s Neighborhood Pizzeria

Small towns in Connecticut are well-known for local dives and close-knit communities, which could be said about Famous Pizza, one of Bethel’s most cherished local businesses. Famous pizza is not only built on core family values, but on the unwavering commitment to only provide quality food for the locals. As a teenager, Perry spent almost every waking hour (not at school) putting in time and effort to the business. His parents raised his family on the principles of pride, hard work and consistency. Perry was so committed to his family and orders of his parents, that he could even be seen rushing to the restaurant after a high school dance, serving the other teenagers only moments before had been beside him on the dance floor. Giving up monumental teenage moments like these would often make Perry feel unlike other kids, but like he says it would also “put the fire in [my] belly,” a reason to keep striving for more. From growing up in the restaurant business to becoming a college graduate, Perry would later find that after his graduation, something was missing in his life. He would return to Famous Pizza, help expand the business into what it is today, and even give back to the community in more ways than one.

Giving Back to the Community

Perry is grateful for his family getting their start in Bethel. He credits the success of the business and his gratitude to the community through teaching young individuals about the restaurant business. To this day, Perry still holds school visits for local Bethel schools teaching young minds about supporting the local community and of course, the art of pizza making. Every Year, Famous Pizza also makes the effort of sponsoring a team in every single sports league. They also donate and supply pizzas for the Scotty Fund which was recently done in an infamous block party in the center of Bethel. The best part it, he doesn’t charge a dime, and only accepts donations for charity.

TimeStamps

  • 1:28 – Perry’s Life before Famous Pizza
  • 5:46 – Immigrant Mentality
  • 9:20 – Going To College And Gaining Experience
  • 11:10 – Coming Back To The Family Business, Buying A New Building
  • 16:00 – Having Support And An Awesome Partner, Know Your Role
  • 18:10 – Giving Back To The Community And Building Your Brand
  • 25:48 – Tips For Aspiring Entrepreneurs
  • 32:25 – Perry’s Relationship With Scott Johnson

Transcript

Scott Johnson: Welcome to The Mack Talks, I am your host Scott Johnson. This is my cohost Chase Hutchinson, and today we have a great guest on the show, someone who has a great story. Has busted his backside to build his business, to get it to where it’s gotten to. He’s a great community leader, does a lot as his business has grown. He has contributed to his community which is an awesome story to hear from an entrepreneur. Let’s get right into it with him right now. Perry Anastasakis.

Perry: Oh you destroyed it.

Scott Johnson: Oh damn it.

Chase Hutchison: Not even close dude, not even close.

Scott Johnson: [crosstalk 00:00:45] I knew it, I’ve been practicing it all night.

Perry: It’s so easy, just break it down man. Anastasakis.

Scott Johnson: That’s what Chase trying to get me to do.

Chase Hutchison: It’s the tust, Anastasakis. That’s what-

Scott Johnson: [crosstalk 00:00:56] That’s what-

Perry: It’s all good.

Scott Johnson: … Chase was trying to get me to do. Anyhow, what is that name? That’s Italian or something?

Perry: It sounds Greek, it’s all Greek to me.

Chase Hutchison: Yeah, right.

Scott Johnson: Alright, so welcome Perry to The Mack Talks. Let’s just just jump right in it to your … get right into your story here. I want you to tell us about … I want you to start like pre Bethel days, before you guys started the pizzeria. Your story leading up to the pizzeria if you could. Just touch on that a little bit.

Perry: Sure. First, thanks for having me, it’s an honor to be your first guest on such a big moment. But, yeah. I’m not a morning person, so just bear with me. I think I got in around midnight last night out of work, so mornings aren’t …

Scott Johnson: A lot of hours, yep.

Perry: Yep, it’s the restaurant business, but that’s where I grew up. And basically, I mean, it’s a long story, but I guess the shorter version of it is, my mom and pops just decided let’s start a business. Let’s do what every other Greek immigrant does. I’m a first generation, I was born here. My parents were born in Greece. They both came here and wanted to start a family and make a better life for themselves. It was a struggle growing up, and my parents just wanted a new start somewhere. They rolled through Bethel Connecticut, looked like a nice town to raise their three kids. I was the oldest, and I saw a place for rent. They had no money, literally no money. They scraped together … They found a failing place that was really cheap to buy, and they said, “You know what? Maybe we can clean this place up a little bit and make a little money.”

Perry: They had really … I wouldn’t say low aspirations, but they just wanted to support their family. That’s pretty much …

Scott Johnson: Was there any prior restaurant experience at all from anybody in the family?

Perry: So my dad-

Scott Johnson: Or just home cooking, good home cooking.

Perry: No, my mother, when she came to this country worked for her uncle and they had a pizzeria in Stanford that basically all her siblings went through, and just busted their butts trying to save up some money. And they all went their separate ways. Most of them did go into the restaurant business. My father, though, was a mechanic, so he had a gas station and no experience whatsoever. He had friends in the industry, and he saw that they were becoming successful. He’s like, “Hey, why don’t I give this a shot?” They basically did all the wrong things. They opened up on a Friday night, they never tested anything. It was a total mess.

Perry: So from the get go our seed capital was literally the change in our piggy bank. We lived in Watertown at the time, so they were commuting an hour each way, working 16 hours a day, seven days a week, and didn’t make a dime for about three years. These are the stories when people … Nowadays they watch these shows on Food Network, and they’re like, “Oh, I make a great chicken masala at home. My friends tell me I should open a restaurant.” These are stories you don’t hear. Growing up in this atmosphere, we basically went to school, took the bus downtown where our shop’s located right there on the green in downtown Bethel, and did whatever we could to help our parents. Yeah, we went outside and play with our friends. But myself being the oldest one, I found myself working a little more.

Perry: So then my other siblings and as they got older-

Scott Johnson: How old were you guys when …?

Perry: I was around eight years old. My brother seven, my sister six. We started folding boxes, then I was answering the phone I think by nine years old, literally. They had those like cheap boots on the side, next phone so I have my homework out there. I try to get some work done. The phone rings, ‘Get up, get down.’ That was how we grew up. And really, really humble beginnings though. I mean, it was a struggle. I think for three years my parents were just stiffing one guy to pay the other guy, and didn’t make a dime. And then slowly business grew. They finally figured things out.

Scott Johnson: Well, kids got older, so they got more value out of their children getting. [inaudible 00:05:13] does that.

Perry: Yeah, the labor budget definitely … we definitely broke some labor laws back in the day with child labor, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. It really made us who we are. We really … Growing up and we call it the Willy Wonka years. When we first moved to Bethel we were living on one side of a duplex. It was two bedroom … My parents bedroom was literally the size of a closet. And then it was like myself, my brother, my sister and my grandparents in one room. This was … we’re in middle school. But we didn’t look at it. We didn’t look at ourselves any different. Yeah, I wanted what my friends had, I wanted that lawn and … But, that’s what put the fire in my belly at a young age. I was like, “You know what? I gotta go out there and do something.”

Perry: I guess that immigrant mentality, even though we were born here, we just felt that we had to go out there and get it.

Scott Johnson: And everybody was working at the pizzeria right?

Perry: Yeah. My brother, my sister, cousins.

Scott Johnson: I think remember hearing stories about how I think it was your grandma used to walk every day to the pizzeria from the house or something like that?

Perry: Oh, yeah.

Scott Johnson: And everyday working and, and stuff like.

Perry: Oh, yeah, she’d cracking the whip making boxes.

Scott Johnson: That’s how you guys got into it. Then you worked obviously throughout your teenage years.

Perry: Yep high school, everyday.

Scott Johnson: So like Friday nights, Saturday nights at the pizzeria?

Perry: Yeah, literally at that time the Middle School was where the municipal center is, which is walking distance. So literally I would go to the dance late smelling like pizza. I had put some cologne on. Then like my dad would be like, “Make sure, as soon as the dance gets over, you leave early, you’re the first one here because there’s a line of kids and you …” So, that wasn’t like the best experience having to be like, “Hi, can I help you?” Meanwhile you were asking the girl to try to get a dance 10 minutes earlier.

Scott Johnson: It was at the municipal center, so did you graduate with Meg Ryan or didn’t she go to school-

Perry: [crosstalk 00:07:21] No, she’s too old.

Scott Johnson: All right. Okay. I was just making, it was the high school back then I think so-

Perry: Yeah.

Scott Johnson: You get out smelling like pizza. I would imagine that would attract some ladies no?

Perry: It might have been attractive to some, but I’m still waiting for them to come around.

Scott Johnson: Yeah, exactly right? So your parents pretty much ran the pizza place, you were heavily involved throughout your high school years and stuff like that. Then just take it from there as far as what happened?

Perry: Yeah, so basically, I had no intention to go to college. I was just like happy I was making money at this time. Business picked up, word of mouth spread, and we were building, slowly building our clientele. This did not happen overnight. I just assumed, well, I’m going to help out my parents and take it from there. My dad really always stressed the importance of education. He’s always said this to me. “I want you to work with your head, not your hands.” That stuck out, but I was happy, I was making money. Cash for a 16 year old kid. I had bought myself a brand new Camaro. We didn’t have money, but I busted my tail and saved up. I really wanted the nice things, so at that time that was my motivation.

Perry: He had an important lesson for me. He’s like, “Alright, well, if you want to do this, you really got to know what it is to be all in. I’m going to go to Greece this summer.” I think it was the summer of my junior year, and I was a good student, nothing spectacular but I did my work, I paid attention in class. I really didn’t have time for homework. I just did well. I absorbed information. That summer, he handed me the keys. He’s like, “Alright I’m going to Greece, you can run the place, see what it’s like.” While all my friends were going to the beach, going to the carnival, this and that. I was working at least 100 hours a week, seven days a week. And I was just burnt out. By the end of the summer I tossed him the keys, and I’m like, “This Greek kid’s going to college.”

Scott Johnson: I need to be a kid for a couple years, I need to …

Perry: And having that business background, I definitely knew I wanted to study business. I took some accounting classes. Went to Pace University, they had a reputation of being a really good accounting school. But the difference is when I went to college, I really took advantage of all the opportunities out there. Sports for me in high school wasn’t an option, even though I was active in sports. I didn’t have the time commitment. I always would feel like I would let my family down. So they really were, they backed me up 100%. They said, “Look, when you go College do what you gotta do, we’ll be fine your brother and sister can step up.” I got involved in all types of activities. I really went all in on my studies. Graduated, went to work with one of the top accounting firms, one of the big six at the time, Ernst and Young. And just got a wealth of experience in my two years there, just seeing how major multinational corporations ran, how efficient they were.

Perry: All that time I had it in my head that I was going to definitely go back to the restaurant business, and take over my parents place, bring it to the next level. We were steadily building our clientele at that time, but we were outdated. I had to go in there … I told dad, I’m like, “Look if I’m gonna come in here, I need to just tear this whole … blow it up, and start from the ground up, and really utilize technology and make it efficient.”

Scott Johnson: At that time when you were at college, it was still just the one store that you guys had. That small [crosstalk 00:10:58].

Perry: Yeah it was a small footprint. It was like less than 1000 square feet, and we just maxed out. We were totally maxed out. We’re renting the space at the time, and when I decided to quit my job and come back to the family business, we looked into expanding it, because it just wasn’t big enough. We leased some additional space, and then we realized how expensive it would be to do things the way we wanted rather than put that money into someone else’s building. We then negotiate the purchase of the building, which allowed us to take to adjoining stores, convert that into one. Then add back the space that we originally started from.

Scott Johnson: Didn’t you have an apartment upstairs to when you started?

Perry: Yeah we literally [crosstalk 00:11:44] there were a couple apartments upstairs that were just torn down. It was a really long process. Basically when I came into the business, I thought, “Alright I’ll quit my job, I’ll go to a bank, they’ll give me some money, I’ll fix the place up,” and I’ll be … It totally did not work out that way.

Scott Johnson: You thought it was like, a three month plan it was more like a three year plan.

Perry: Yeah, I had no idea about how construction worked, how expensive it was, at that time. This was 1997. Money was flowing and something to renovate a pizzeria was like half a million dollars. And yeah, we saved some money, but nothing like that. At that time we had a customer at one of the local banks that came in for lunch, and this was before the SNL scandal broke and banks … I literally walked into a bank and walked out with $100,000 check like an hour later. There was no form filled out and I was, Oh this great, thanks a lot.” But then I realized how long it would take to get permits and all that. So I took that money and played a little my stock market experience I had on Wall Street when I interned nice before that and yeah that failed miserably.

Perry: But anyways … So then when the time came when we were ready to renovate because at that time we took our money that we had saved for the business and we bought the building which was the best move we ever. If you’re ever in the restaurant business 10 year leases go by like that.

Scott Johnson: The bigger they see your crowd and the bigger, the more success they’re doing the more they’re gonna turn the rent up you right?

Perry: [crosstalk 00:13:22] Oh absolutely, someone will come in yeah. Someone will come in and it doesn’t matter … Loyalty these days … Luckily we had this family … The people that owned the building, they give us the opportunity to purchase it, they were like family. Shout out the [Carousel 00:13:37] family they really allowed us a chance to succeed.

Scott Johnson: But yeah, in any business too, I mean owning your building is huge. But especially with inside of the restaurant business, because they can squeeze you, the landlord’s can when they see …

Perry: Oh absolutely. [crosstalk 00:13:50] sometimes they’ll come in and …

Scott Johnson: But rightfully so though because being a commercial property owner and having as well now, because they do own the whole building and you have some units that you’re rent. It’s not an easy thing. Sometimes places come and go, so you have to plan for that obviously when you’re a commercial owner as well, so it’s tough when a restaurant comes into your space. So then when it’s successful you obviously want to try to make the most money you can as a business owner.

Perry: Right, well that’s the good thing that we started the way we did, so we see both sides. So now that we have tenants we understand how it is to be a tenant. Yeah my dad was late months, and so we always take that in consideration. We try to work with our tenants. Things get tough man and you have to be … Business is business, but at the same time you like to bend and do what’s best for everyone. You don’t want to be like, nowadays you have these corporations triple net lease. We do a lot of the stuff we do on a handshake, and it just stays the same and it’s like …

Perry: We do it really old school in that regards. It just works for us.

Scott Johnson: So you came back, you bought the building, you’ve renovated it into a larger space. Where did you go from square footage wise? What did you have? You said you had 1000 to start.

Perry: It was like 900 and change to the start, and we took two adjoining stores that brought us to about 2500 square feet and that includes some basements space. And then about 10 years into it we added our original location, so we’re up to like 3500 square feet. We’ve got sitting for 150 people, large kitchen, we do a lot of delivery-

Scott Johnson: [crosstalk 00:15:30] I see the famous trucks or delivery vehicles. I see you got the new Box Tops going. The top of the cars gone. And I mean I was going to tell you, it’s great marketing because they’re bright white and you just see them, they’re just buzzing around. Whenever you get closer to downtown Bethel it’s like a bee’s nest of famous pizza delivery vehicles. It’s awesome. So [crosstalk 00:15:51].

Chase Hutchison: Any thoughts on expanding, opening another location?

Perry: No.

Chase Hutchison: A big no.

Perry: Just to backtrack a little bit. I don’t want to make this sound like this is me. My parents put in the work-

Scott Johnson: The foundation.

Perry: … The foundation, we just took it to the next level. And a major … My right hand man is my brother in law Anthony Caffrey. Going into this I knew right away I couldn’t do this alone. I needed someone I could trust, someone that I could work with, and I think he just started dating my sister and we hit it off. He’s my best friend first and foremost, and he put a lot of blood sweat and tears into this. So the two of us together we run the place now. My parents have been retired for years, they’re enjoying life, traveling a lot. But Anthony is a big reason why where we are today. We know each other’s role, that’s always been our line, like know your role.

Perry: He does his thing, I do my thing. I don’t think we’ve ever fought, like literally in-

Chase Hutchison: That’s so rare in the restaurant industry.

Perry: … over ten years.

Scott Johnson: Just maybe some smack talking during the Super Bowl, because he’s a Pats fan and you’re Eagles fan.

Perry: Yes, absolutely.

Scott Johnson: But that that’s really it, and that’s just good natured busting chops. So then you were able to now be at what, 3500 square feet you said.

Perry: Yeah, it’s a …

Scott Johnson: Wow, that’s a lot of space. And how many employees now?

Perry: We have over 30 employees. We have a lot of part timers but-

Scott Johnson: [crosstalk 00:17:24] It started with your mom and your dad, and then your family as the employees, and now you have built it up to 3500 square feet, over 30 employees. I mean, that’s amazing. Now, the next I want you to talk about, because as you’ve come up you’ve contributed to the community in ways that a lot of other … in ways that I’ve never seen a business do, which has just been really, really cool. Everybody knows Famous Pizza in Bethel as being heavily involved in the community. You see their signs everywhere. If you could just speak a little bit about that, and some of the different things that you do for the community, that’d be great.

Perry: Sure. Yeah, so being a product of Bethel, Connecticut, I consider that my hometown. I’ve been here since sixth grade. My kids, I live in Bethel. My kids go to the Bethel public schools. So early on we found a real need to give back to our community. Growing up the way we did, we were always told to be appreciative of where you come from, be polite. The whole European hospitality thing comes into play. So it’s just about giving back, and we’re very blessed to be where we are, and that’s all because of the town of Bethel. We went through the Bethel public schools, so early on I reached out to the school system and said, “Hey, what could I do to help out?”

Perry: I pitched an idea where the first grade class of every school would come in, we’d teach them how to make pizza. We would talk to them about community. So there is … it’s not like a sales pitch by any means, it’s really just meant as a thank you. But we do incorporate what we do and show the kids how we make the pizza, we give them a of our kitchen, we come in early, we have the kids dropped off, they make their own pizza with their partner. We teach them how important it is to support the local businesses. So we talk about the downtown area. So it’s a great day …

Scott Johnson: And you do that with every first grade class?

Perry: Every first grade class. I think we have-

Scott Johnson: How many first grade classes are there? Do you know?

Perry: The kids that started … It’s funny because I see them … They’ve already graduated college.

Chase Hutchison: Oh wow.

Perry: It’s probably been about 15 years now. And the cool thing is we have this long hallway in the back, and we call it our Hall of Fame. We take a picture of every class. There’s kids that will be graduating from college, who come in with their girlfriend, they’ll show them their picture on the wall. It really didn’t start out as like this big thing. But it’s just turned into like a rite of passage for every kid that goes through the Bethel public school system. That the kids look forward to it. They’re like they can’t wait. They see … We put every current year class picture up in the front, and then we put all the old pictures in the back.

Perry: That’s just one of the things we did, and it really … It was just a way of saying thank you. It’s not meant as a marketing gimmick, even though we give them like a Famous Pizza apron a take home. The moms love that. We do get our branding out there, but the intention was not that. It was just as a simple way of saying thank you. That’s just one of the few events we do. There’s a lot of local organizations that are wonderful. Like [crosstalk 00:20:37] donate the pizzas to, so they could raise funds, Relay for Life.

Chase Hutchison: I see you have a particular affinity for supporting local like little league teams and sports teams and stuff.

Scott Johnson: [inaudible 00:20:51] the high school.

Chase Hutchison: Yeah, is that somehow connected to how you wish that you had more time when you were a kid to play sports and stuff, so now you really see the value in it, and you want to really like push that …?

Perry: That’s funny. I never really thought of it that way. But subconsciously, probably. Really what it’s just meant to, is to just be supportive of everyone. So we make an effort to sponsor a team in every single leak. Someone comes in and ask for a gift card, we support everyone that walks in the door, no one walks out empty handed. We’re in a really fortunate situation that we could do that. My parents when they started, they could not do that. It’s not that they didn’t want to. I really feel for a lot of these small businesses like retail and whatnot. It’s really hard. Like to write a check is just, it kills a business for a donation. But … so what we did early on, is we decided that rather than do that, write that check for that print ad. What I would rather do is give you a $50 gift card.

Perry: You’re still getting that 50 bucks, but it’s not coming out of my cash flow, which especially in the early years was really tough. We came up with that idea and it’s worked great. Because that $50 in turn, brings someone into my restaurant, gives them an opportunity to try the food, and maybe I’ll get a customer out of that. So-

Chase Hutchison: It’s a win win for everybody.

Perry: [crosstalk 00:22:10] that’s worked really … Yeah, it’s great. We don’t say no to anyone, but we just explain to them, “Hey, this is how we got to do it.” I can’t tell you … A day does not go by where we don’t get a solicitation for a donation. It’s literally … The unfortunate thing is, you have these huge multinational corporations that they’ll all … “Oh you got to go to HR department.” “Oh, you got to email this person.” “Oh, you have a requisition that’s going to take three weeks.” Here they know they’re going to walk in, they’re going to see me there. And in one minute later literally they’re going to walk out with a gift card.

Scott Johnson: That’s awesome.

Perry: Yeah.

Scott Johnson: I remember … was it this summer? I think it was actually the last summer, that you did the block party, which was pretty amazing.

Perry: Yeah it was a great time. So-

Scott Johnson: That’s awesome to do for the kids.

Perry: I think that started … We started in ’82, and I think on our 30 years anniversary we decided, “You know what? We gotta do something big.” We were right there, we’re located in downtown Bethel on our cute little green right there. So we closed green down. We brought in these huge inflatable water slides, bounce houses, dunk tanks, face painting and all that.

Scott Johnson: And just gave away slices.

Perry: And we just cranked out pies.

Scott Johnson: It was just a never ending … I think I was probably in that line maybe eight times, just filling up.

Perry: It was the first time we did it and we didn’t know what to expect. And we didn’t charge a dime. We did have a big jar out which we donated all the money to the Scotty Fund, just because we thought that would be a good thing to do. It’s because people were asking, they’re like, “Hey, we gotta give you something for this. You guys are basically throwing an amusement park for the day, and feeding us.” So we did that, and then we were going to try to keep that tradition going. We did do it at our 35 year block party, and we took it up a notch. So hopefully the 40 year will be a big blast.

Scott Johnson: Yeah, no definitely.

Perry: Yeah, it’s just another way of saying thank you to the town. We cannot express how appreciative we are of all the support over the years.

Scott Johnson: Yeah. No, that’s really awesome. And it’s great that you guys are giving back as well, and that you guys are a major part of the community. And it goes much further than just giving things as well. Just being there all the time, showing your consistency, having people see you there every day. I’m sure you have regulars that you always constantly see on a regular basis.

Perry: Absolutely, yes. That’s probably one of the best things about our job. I mean the restaurant business is no secret, it’s a tough industry, long hours and all that. But when you walk around town and this kid recognize you on the street. He’s like, “Hey, that’s the famous pizza guy.”

Scott Johnson: Yeah, right.

Perry: Kind of like you’re walking around like you’re Darryl Strawberry. That’s on the same level to these kids. I was always really emphasize the importance of your name. There’s nothing more sacred as your name. For me being … it’s my family famous pizza. I pretty much on equal basis means my last night. So I got to take care of my customers. And now that I have kids, when I started having kids, I realized, “Hey I gotta really take it up a notch.” This is who we are, this is how we live, where we live. So we were always stressed, how you carry yourself, how you give back. It’s really important. So, yeah, we’re always very-

Scott Johnson: That’s awesome.

Perry: … aware of that.

Scott Johnson: Now, do you have any … Obviously you have an amazing entrepreneurial story, entrepreneurial spirit. Do you have any suggestions or any pointers that you would give out to anybody that’s getting ready to get into the restaurant business?

Perry: For the restaurant business in general-

Scott Johnson: Or any business.

Perry: I listen to these podcasts and all that. I’m always trying to improve myself. I’m not going to be one of these guys that’d be like, “Yeah, I’m so great. I took this place, took it to the next level.” No, we just worked hard. It’s like, entrepreneurial, that’s the buzzword these days. Back when you and I were kids it was like hustling. I grew up on a racetrack, my dad liked horses. It’s in my blood just to see something and be like, “How can I flip that? How can I …”

Perry: The restaurant business is just another facet of that. I always looked at it … I was going somewhere with this, but I’m sorry.

Scott Johnson: That’s okay.

Perry: I looked at it, when I first started the business. How can I … So for 15 years I went into the work with the notion, “How can I make another dollar?” “How can I squeeze another dollar out of this place?” Whether it’s marketing, whether it’s cost cutting, whether it’s some efficiency that we can save money, so I went in with that mindset for 15 years, and It just drains you. We’re happy with where we’re at now. So now I could focus on other things. Like Chase asked me before, do you guys have any plans to open up additional stores? Like early on, we decided, Tony and I that, hey, we can spread ourselves thin and try to open up shops just for our ego. But why don’t we just focus on taking this one store and making it as good as we can?

Perry: We took a different approach. Something that I tell people all the time is … I go to these industry shows. Las Vegas has a pizza expo every year. I know we talked about [crosstalk 00:27:38]. So yeah, it’s a really good opportunity to talk with other operators. They have seminars, they have exhibits, product ideas. But when I tell people that we’re closed on Sundays, they look at me like I’m insane. Because Sunday is probably like the third or fourth busiest pizza day. Friday obviously is a big day for us, Saturday. So probably the third busiest besides Saturday. We closed … we’ve been closed now, I’ve been married since 2000, so almost 20 years we took that approach. And basically it’s all because of my priests, so thanks Father Peter.

Scott Johnson: Nice.

Perry: He sat us down before we got married, my wife was a teacher. And he’s like, “So you guys are gonna get married, have a family. You work day and night Monday through Sunday. She’s during the days, like how’s this gonna work?” It really opened our eyes. He told us about some other parishioners that took that approach and it worked for them. And I’m like, Hey, let’s try it out.”

Scott Johnson: That’s great.

Perry: It’s one of the best things we ever did.

Scott Johnson: I always thought it was because your girls played soccer and that you had to close from that.

Chase Hutchison: Or Eagles.

Perry: Yeah no.

Scott Johnson: Or the Eagles-

Perry: [crosstalk 00:28:49] the Eagles football yeah.

Scott Johnson: Yeah, you were like, yes when he said that. You were like, “Now I could watch some Eagles football.” But then you had three little ones and they started playing soccer across the state all over the place.

Perry: Yeah, no. It started definitely because of starting a family, and then it just worked. I was involved with my kids teams. I coached a lot of soccer teams, and that gave me the opportunity which I normally wouldn’t be able to do if I was sitting behind oven.

Scott Johnson: Yeah, no I hear you. So I know we can … I don’t want to keep you for too long, because I know you got to get over to work there and get the-

Perry: Time to make the pizzas.

Scott Johnson: Time to make pizza, but I just wanted to just talk a little bit about how me and you have a personal relationship. I moved to Bethel probably like seven or eight years ago, and I was just ordering from Famous Pizza a lot, ordering a lot of salads because I was trying to keep my figure a little bit down. Still order some salads.

Perry: Yeah.

Scott Johnson: With an occasional chicken parm in there. But we really connected and got on the same page when I started the Newtown Strong Fund. Perry and Famous Pizza was a huge supporter of that. And then from there, we’ve just been able to work on other things together. And then we’ve just grown. We found out that we were both Eagles fans. We became fantasy football partners, and obviously Mack Media does a lot of stuff for Famous Pizza, video content and just different things like that, different digital marketing things as well. Which brings me to something that I wanted to play here for everybody.

Scott Johnson: Where is this? What we do is we have a lot of our clients do testimonials for us, and this is a testimonial that Perry had did for us … What he was doing was, he was doing a real testimonial. And in the midst of the real testimonial, he decided that he was going to do a little joke thing where-

Perry: Oh I remember this.

Scott Johnson: … he was going to-

Chase Hutchison: A testimonial inside the testimonial.

Scott Johnson: Yes the testimonial inside testimonial. Hang on one second, let me just bring that back. Alright so we’re just gonna play this really quickly.

Perry: This is some of my best work I must say.

Scott Johnson: This is really some of his best work.

Video: The thing that really impresses me about Scott Johnson is his dedication to the gym, so that he can keep a body type-

Scott Johnson: Of course I added some B roll there.

Video: … that is somewhat respectable. I mean the guy pounds beers, and eats more shit-

Scott Johnson: Shout to [inaudible 00:31:25].

Video: … than any fat bastard in the world.

Scott Johnson: True story.

Video: And then he goes the next day to the gym, and hops on a treadmill while probably texting and doing all sorts of other stuff, following Eagles football stuff, so it’s true dedication. It really impresses me, and it’s someone I want to be around the rest of my life.

Perry: It’s all about entrepreneurial spirit, right there.

Scott Johnson: It is man. I love it. I love it. Obviously, we’ve went to a lot of Eagles games together. We’ve had a lot of fun, and we’ve had a lot of long drives where we’ve had awesome talks about just business and entrepreneurship, and just more or less just life as well. One of the things that I really remember which is awesome, was Perry and I went and saw the NFC Championship. Perry ended up getting us, scoring us a sweet deal that somebody almost really screwed up. I’ll let you talk about that for a minute Perry.

Perry: I have this regular of mine that hooked us up with these awesome seats of the NFC Championship game. And Scott and his emphatic excitedness took a picture. These days everything’s digital and all that. And I guess he took a picture of the seats and proceeded to post that on a Philadelphia radio Facebook thread, thinking that it was just going to one of his friends. In which case someone could just take that picture and scan in the tickets. So instead of us enjoying a nice relaxed day at the stadium like we should have done, Scott and I had to line up at like one o’clock for a four o’clock game and not enjoy our tailgate, so we could be the first people to scan their tickets so no one else could use it.

Scott Johnson: Well I only had it up there for literally like 25 seconds. I posted underneath this thing, and this guy starts direct messaging me. Didn’t even know him. He’s like, “Dude you should take those down. They’re going to take a picture of … they’re going to print that and they’re going to be able to use it at the gate, so I took it down immediately. And I called Perry because I had to let him know at least to give them a heads up. I call him and I tell him, and he played it off like, “Don’t worry about it, we’ll just get down there early.” But I could tell, because I know how Perry is he’s really on point with everything, that he was stressing about it.

Scott Johnson: I tried to take some of that stress off a little bit, so we got to Philly taco before we went into the game. Which is a large slice of pizza with a cheese steak in the middle of it. We posted up outside on South Street, and maybe we’ll show that video as well at another time, which is an awesome hype video that we did. I felt like I … Although I did provide him that stress, I felt like I took a lot away with some of my content that I was providing on the streets of Philly.

Perry: Yeah the megaphone came in …

Scott Johnson: As well like … I think he wasn’t … When I had the megaphone out in front of the Minnesota Vikings hotel, and of course no profanities were being used. But I feel that I took a little bit of that stress off of him.

Perry: [inaudible 00:34:36].

Scott Johnson: And as soon as we got in through the gate, which he was like the first person there. Soon as we got in, he was like … He looks right at me and goes, “I can’t begin to tell you how annoyed and how stressed out I was. I’m gonna text my wife right now to tell her that I’m in.”

Chase Hutchison: That was nice of you to wait until after …

Scott Johnson: Yeah, so-

Perry: You know what? It was a great day. It was a win win, it was epic.

Chase Hutchison: [crosstalk 00:34:58] We actually have some relics from the day on display here.

Scott Johnson: Yeah so we have [crosstalk 00:35:02] the megaphone on display, we’ve got the construction helmet. Obviously the seasons off to a little bit of a slow start, but that’s alright, all we need to do is win our division.

Perry: We got the ring.

Scott Johnson: We’ll get there, and that’s all that matters. Alright, so that’s going to pretty much wrap up this episode that we had with Perry Anastasakis.

Chase Hutchison: Oh man.

Scott Johnson: Ouch.

Perry: You’re killing me.

Scott Johnson: Perry we appreciate you coming by.

Perry: Thanks guys, I appreciate it.

Scott Johnson: We’re probably gonna have you often, because you’re good, you got the good content rolling there, so we’d like to hear your stories.

Perry: If you say so.

Scott Johnson: We can discuss more about our Eagles trip. That could be a whole episode-

Chase Hutchison: Yeah, in itself.

Scott Johnson: … in its own. Alright everybody … Oh, actually. Wait, hold on one second. I forgot about our segment that we’re going to do which is one question from Kev the Intern. Kev, come over, step over to the mic over here. Let’s go. Fire away, buddy. Right in there.

Chase Hutchison: Right here.

Scott Johnson: Right in there. Let’s go. One question.

Kev: [crosstalk 00:35:56] sorry about that, thank you. Alright, one question. Figuratively, what is the one ingredient that goes into the perfect pizza?

Perry: So, one ingredient, I’m going to take that just in a little different … When you say ingredient, basically pizza you think, dough, sauce and cheese. My thing is, it all starts with the dough, and that’s what … Product is the most important thing, so one thing that I think sets us apart from our competition is our dough is different. That’s the only way to put it. Like our crust … it’s just something you can’t find. Kids go away to college, they come back to like, “I need Famous Pizza.” They cannot find that. A lot of my competition, you can find that Pizza in basically … at any town in America. Your traditional slice, so we do things a little different. The way we make our dough is different. The way we cook our dough is different. We cook in a pan. So, it is really unique, and I think that’s a big factor to our success.

Perry: To answer your question, it definitely is the dough for me. When I see a crust that’s not … and that like just kills me. That’s the best part.

Scott Johnson: Basically to sum it up, you need good dough to make the dough more or less right? You need the dough to make the dough. How about that? How about we close-

Perry: [crosstalk 00:37:23] A wise man once said that.

Scott Johnson: How about we close it with that. Perry thank you so much. Kev the intern, thanks for the one question from Kevin the intern. Chase [inaudible 00:37:32], get back to your desk, start grinding away on some outreach.

Chase Hutchison: You got it.

Scott Johnson: And we’ll be seeing you guys soon.

Perry: Alright, go Birds.

Scott Johnson: Thanks again, buddy.