Tim Gaines, the owner of Lost Pizza Company in Collierville, TN, shares his experience adapting to the environment affecting local businesses today. Tim’s restaurant has delivered a handful of unique ideas that encourage customers to support local restaurants via curbside pick-up.
See the transcript below.
Anna Bell: Hello everyone, I’m Anna Bell and thanks for tuning into our newest series, Main and Mulberry Community At Home today. I’m thankful to have with us Tim Gaines, owner of Lost Pizza Company on the phone to talk with us about how he is getting creative with his business in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic. Tim, thank you for taking the time to talk with us.
Tim Gaines: Yeah, absolutely. I appreciate you giving me this opportunity.
AB: Oh yeah, we’re happy to talk to you. Man, what a time to be an in restaurant business as a business owner. How are you guys holding up? What’s the day to day looking like?
TG: Well, yeah, you know, we’re fairly new to Collierville and you know, what a time to come in as a new business here. Um, definitely not what we were expecting, but, you know, of course our business has slowed down a lot. We’ve got a lot of people adhering to, you know, the stay at home situation that we have, which is great. But of course, restaurants are considered an essential business and so we’re staying open with pickup and curbside options for people. We also have delivery through Bite Squad if customers don’t want to get out of the house. And we’re also, hopefully by the end of this week, we’re actually going to add online ordering. And we’re working on that as we speak to try to get that in place.
AB: Oh, that’s awesome. That’s great news. Pizza in particular, you guys have such a unique atmosphere in your dining room and now like you said, with those being closed to the public, maybe we can dive deeper and talk about how you’ve had to adapt to the current situation.
TG: Yeah, I mean, our atmosphere that we offer does… it helps us out a lot. People enjoy coming here. It’s a laid back atmosphere, kind of an eclectic place. There’s a lot of stuff to see. It’s very visual and so we’ve lost that through this. And so, you know, we have had to adapt to the situation. You know, right now, our full menu is still available. But we have come up with it you things to try to help, you know, families and everything right now. One thing I was noticing was a lot of our catering companies were doing really well and so we decided that we could actually offer families some casseroles and things like that that were selling well at these other places. And so, now we have started our pasta casseroles. These are basically homemade casseroles that we do in house. Um, they feed six people. We’re offering spaghetti and meatballs, chicken Alfredo, chicken spaghetti, which is kind of like a chicken Rotel and a Buffalo chicken. And so these are great options for families that want to get a meal and feed everybody at once or even freeze them for later on.
AB: This is a new thing that you’re, you’re coming out with that you’re sharing with the community, right? You haven’t had these casseroles previously?
TG: No. I mean we’ve done some pasta dishes for catering our catering options, but we’ve never done it basically for the public. Yeah. You know, somebody walking in off the street, and but we’re doing that just because we see a need for it now. And they’ve done really well. My other store, we partnered with a meat market and we’re selling them through them and of course they’re selling them through our own restaurant. So we’re just really trying to get these things out there and push them.
TG: We’re also offering pans of salad. You can either get a house salad or Caesar salad, those have dressings along with them. They feed six as well and they’re $19.99. So yeah, we’ve actually tired to do some things that, you know, or change some things that we haven’t done in the past.
AB: We’re all having to outside the box right now, aren’t we? We’re all having to be yes. Innovative in a sense.
TG: That’s right. And I think one of the most innovative things that we’ve done is we’ve actually offered, this kid’s pizza construction kit. You know, one thing that we found was, cruising social media, we’re on social media all the time trying to, you know, let people know that we’re open and available. But one thing we see is a lot of parents getting frustrated, you know, children cooped up in a house all day long.
TG: We came up with this idea of a pizza construction kit and basically what that is, is it’s a deconstructed pizza. It’s got your dough in there. We provide sauce, cheese and whatever toppings, whatever the customer wants. And basically they’ll be for them to take home and for their children, actually their own pizza and then cook their own pizza. And we have had success with this. I mean, it’s gotten great response from the community and people really seem to be loving it. So that’s another thing that we’ve kind of done to try to help, you know, the customer and in different ways that we’ve never thought about before.
AB: I personally have actually done the curbside and picked up one of these deconstructed kits and we had so much fun. It was a great distraction from, you know, being at home all the time together with the kids. This was something new and something fun to do. And we personally really enjoyed, you know, doing that. And so that’s such a great idea, and another opportunity for families to kind of do something different, and get together. I’ve really appreciated that. Are you seeing much support from the community? Maybe you can talk about, you know, these tough decisions you have to be making here recently as of the community come out and really helped you guys. Would you be willing to share kind of what you’ve been saying?
TG: Thanks. Yeah, I mean, the community’s been great. I mean, unfortunately every day, you know, I’ve got a lot of friends in the restaurant business. I know a lot of the owners and you know, there’s, of course this is affecting everybody, but the community is really rallied around I think, you know, local, restaurants and I think instead of them eating away from Collierville, everybody is, you know, coming together and really supporting the local restaurants, which is great.
TG: Now, you know, you still got a lot of people that um, aren’t eating out as much, but they are, when they do, they are supporting the locals. Of course, everybody’s down, I mean, you know, everybody’s business is down right now, but there’s no way we could get through this without the local community coming in, you know, stepping up and come into our restaurants and actually ordering from us. And so, yeah, we’ve gotten a lot of great response from Collierville. Everybody is positive. They’re really, you know, looking to support us, you know, and we’re trying to support the community. We’ve done several things where we have fed, you know, this hospital, the police department. You know, there’s a local resident here, Heather Ann James, and, she has kind of put together something to where she’s bringing in, donations and she’s going to different restaurants around the community and actually paying for food and then having the restaurants actually deliver to the hospitals and the police departments and things like that.
TG: And so, you know, I’ve heard, you know, just on social media, I’ve seen, you know, the community come together to go and support the hospital and cheer those nurses on it, at shift time and things like that. It’s just… as hard as things are right now, seeing that kind of stuff really gives you hope and, you know, it puts us in a better place for sure.
AB: It renews everybody’s spirits, I think, when we all kind of come together and lift each other up, I think it’s so important, especially in times like today.
TG: Right. Yeah, absolutely.
AB: Well, Tim, we want to thank you for your time and your insight. We certainly appreciate it. I love hearing from you guys and you know, all of us where we’re going to continue to try to keep supporting you and all the local businesses right now.
TG: Well, we appreciate that. I mean, honestly, we couldn’t make it without you guys, so that’s really important.
AB: Awesome. Well, I’d also like to personally send you all who are listening well wishes from my home to yours. Until next time, I’m Anna Bell.