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Pizza My Heart owner Chuck Hammers went from geophysics to selling pizza by the slice - Silicon Valley Business Journal


Stashed in: Pizza!, Palo Alto

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The thing about me is, I’m an amazing creature of habit. So at Berkeley, a pizza by the slice place opens up my freshman year. That was Blondie’s. I ate there for lunch every single day.

My brother-in-law and I had actually talked about doing a clothing store together. But I realized that while I liked running the store, I wasn’t really passionate about the product. What I realized I was really passionate about was this pizza by the slice place. And at the time, nobody in the area was doing pizza by the slice, so it made perfect sense.

I put everything into it I had. I borrowed money from everyone, borrowed from my dad. I spent everything I had — my last bit of money was the food bill to open the doors. I crossed my fingers and hoped I had the money to pay my employees in two weeks. Thankfully, it just started rolling.

Eventually I got enough together that I could go to a bank and get the money to open the second store in Palo Alto. And once I was in Palo Alto, it was like boom. It took off like a rocket.

They say a company changes once it hits a certain number of employees. Was it like that having two stores?

The second one is absolutely the hardest. By far. It’s just like having kids. The first kid is easy: You’ve got the kid, he goes everywhere with you, you manage it. But once you have the second one you’re splitting your attention and instantly you’re playing defense.

Same thing with stores. If you have one store, you’re there all day and absolutely nothing goes wrong, because you’re there. If something happens, you put the fire out. As soon as you get two, you’re in the wrong store every time.

People say, how do you do it, you’re at 24 stores, how do you keep track of that? But it was the second one that was the bear. Adding another store now is not a lot. As we get bigger it gets easier.

So Pizza My Heart did not evolve out of Pizza-a-Go-Go? I never knew!

I don't have kids but his logic about multiple stores makes sense.

However, even getting one store off the ground is hard. Sounds like he was good and he was lucky!

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