There are those in this world who dare to dream. Their desire for a restaurant consumes their souls as a dragon would consume worlds. They pursue the ache within their hearts with never ending unrest until at last their doors open, their dream is fulfilled, and each day their soul sings with the joy of ten thousand angels celebrating the achievement of all that they desired.
This is not my story. This was never my dream. In fact I believe anyone with this dream must be possessed by a touch of the madness to desire such a fools errand. Yet here I sit on the precipice of our doors opening, trembling, and clearly the driving force behind all of this. How did this happen? How did we get here?
Just over eleven years ago I started working on Mickey's Pizza. I was told to build it but never set foot in it as I didn't know what I was doing. When our doors opened 10 ½ years ago it was very clear within the first month that we were going to fail. I jumped in, put us on Twitter, started taking pictures, answering phones, taking cash, building pizzas, cooking pizzas, delivering (Yes! Delivering!) pizzas, and we started growing. I added Facebook, Instagram and Youtube. We grew some more. I started learning. I learned absolutely everything about the business. We tweaked recipes. We grew some more. And something happened. As the business grew each day I felt I was failing more each day. As lineups eeked out the door (especially after we were on You Gotta Eat Here!) my stomach twisted in knots. As we sold out night after night people saw success while for me my failure crushed my soul. I wept privately over my failures. Many nights. I was consistently letting too many people down.
There was nowhere to sit, not enough menu items, we could never keep enough dough in stock, the phone lines were too busy, the wait time was too long. The list of my failures seemed endless. The only way to resolve it was to get a bigger space with more everything. I hunted for a year in Clarkson. Nothing. I realized we'd have to go further and we'd need to re-brand. I hunted for another year and squirreled away, dollar by dollar, the money we'd need for the rebrand. We found the place in Oakville and started negotiating.
I met with Jump Branding and Design and tried to explain what were and what we needed to become. I'll never forget it. I sat at their beautiful custom wood table with a free flowing river of glass running through it in their boardroom downtown. Their branding work is everywhere in the GTA (and beyond!) and it is spectacular. They work with many, many clients that are huge corporations with very deep pockets and they get the job done. I felt like the Little Drummer Boy. I had every penny I had saved, which would be just enough, a tiny little pizza shop, and a heart the size of Canada filled with love to serve everyone better than we had been. Would it be enough?
The negotiations were a nightmare. After many months the deal fell apart. We negotiated again on two other units in the development. It took months again. I had three surgeries during this time. I was carried into work because I could not walk but needed to work. The branding needed tweaking. The lineups continued. The negotiations continued. When the lease finally came through, months later, it was delivered to my home by courier. I couldn't sign it. I was in the hospital, not eating, hooked up to an iv, for four days, while they looked around inside me. They thought they'd find cancer. They didn't. My pancreas wasn't working properly. I was very weak. I signed the lease and told the landlord what was happening with me. We moved forward.
Construction has been nothing short of a nightmare during the pandemic. Everything is far more difficult, expensive, and takes far longer than it should. Our doors will finally open without my desire to offer seating for people. It's ok though, because during all of this I know in my heart the thing I value and love above all else, is you. This has been built for you. We show up and serve for you. Safety measures are in place for you. Eventually all of this will pass and we will be here with everything I've always wanted, for you.
With my love, I'll see you soon and be here for you. ~ Sandi