Christian Patriarca of Slice 420 in Colorado Springs is Going Places!
Lloyd's interview with Christian Patriarca from Slice 420, transcription below:
[00:00:02.120] - Lloyd
Hey everybody, it's Lloyd with Perfect Crust pizza liners and Incredible Bags, super excited to be here with a friend of ours, Christian Patriarca of Slice 420 in Colorado Springs. How are you doing?
[00:00:13.400] - Christian
I'm doing great. Thanks for asking and also thank you for taking the time today to do this awesome little interview we're doing today. Thank you.
[00:00:22.010] - Lloyd
No, are you kidding? This is this is just a blast. And we're going to get to kind of why I'm why I wanted to do this. But first, I wanted to point out we had Christian on an Instagram live that we were doing back in the early days of the pandemic. I looked up the date. It was like May 2020. So basically like a year ago. It just blew my mind, you know. So a lot has happened since then.
[00:00:45.920] - Lloyd
And on May 25th, just a couple of weeks ago, May 25th, 2021, you announced on Instagram about a second Slice 420 location coming to Colorado Springs. Super exciting news. Got a million questions for you. But before we get there, if people don't know the Slice 420 story and how you ended up in Colorado Springs with that natural Colorado accent, if you could just kind of tell people why what you're doing in Colorado man.
[00:01:18.530] - Christian
Yeah, absolutely. Thanks for asking that question. I appreciate it. I have three children, I have Eliana, my oldest, I have Giovanni, my middle, and I have our youngest Sophia. So Sophia, when she turned when she was about six weeks old, she started having seizures. That's where our journey began. Journey began with epilepsy. Right. And it's been it was such a battle because there is no control with seizures. See, a neurologist has the same answer all the time.
[00:01:44.840] - Christian
Their answer is this. Like, we know one thing that we're just very unsure about seizures. I'm like, all right, that's good. So, you know, it's the brain. It's neurology. It's it's not easy stuff. Right. So Sophia was having thousands of seizures a month, go to the hospital for two weeks at a time. My wife right there, we spent every holiday for the first two years, Christmas, Thanksgiving week. That's where we spent our holidays, was in a hospital.
[00:02:11.540] - Christian
But my wife is the warrior. She's with Sophia. She is the guardian of Sophia. Angel, sent from God to watch over Sophia. There's no doubt about it, above and beyond me. She makes sure she has the best therapy. She wears her best outfits and she's just taking care of and she's a part of that family. Whatever we do, she does. She doesn't sit out. Whatever we do, she does. Doesn't matter if she has some handicaps.
[00:02:35.300] - Christian
She's just like anybody else. Right? So we moved out here to to Colorado to gain legal access to medical marijuana. And now she's over 90 percent seizure free. Four thousand seizures a month to a little girl to having 90 percent seizure free. So it's been the biggest blessing to sell our business in Florida. Come to Colorado. The community is amazing. The people are outstanding. There's so much love, so much community, so much involvement, connectivity.
[00:03:04.940] - Christian
It's just an amazing place to be. And God really, really led me here and blessed our family above and beyond. So even in this storm, there's always blessings. Always.
[00:03:15.410] - Lloyd
Yeah, that's a lot of what I appreciate about you is that positivity. And just a real quick question. How is Sophia doing now?
[00:03:26.300] - Christian
Thanks for asking. She's doing great. She finally had a hip surgery. She had hip surgeries, and one didn't heal for almost two and a half years, four hip surgeries on one hip. And, you know, God gives miracles and sometimes, it's not my timing, It's not what I want. But the one thing that I can express is that I needed to have some type of trust and have some type of higher power, that that particular person is God and Jesus.
[00:03:50.990] - Christian
Those are the people, you know, thirteen surgeries. I mean, I don't know how much more I could take and I'm not even going to get a surgery. Mentally, emotionally. My little girl, she's had to go under the knife and she's already so, you know, she's already been through so much. So it's been hard battles, but the peace that comes over from God for me and my family has been that has been the thing that has kept us together.
[00:04:11.480] - Christian
You know, it's not easy, nobody deserves to be handicapped. Nobody deserves to have a hard life. I'm not saying you deserve it, but you know what it is this. It is what it is. And we choose to have the attitude and that we're going to take care of business and that we have somebody else to look up to. So that's how we cope with that. And we're really heavily embedded in the special needs community. We're very involved in it.
[00:04:35.630] - Christian
So we're surrounded by it all the time. Whatever we can do, if we can contribute in any way, they contribute to us. I mean, just by their presence and having all these fun fundraisers and cool cats, we have bowling special need baseball, me and Step me, my wife, Stephanie are the official coaches of a special need specialty baseball team this year, which is very exciting. So our mission is to really connect with the special needs community and really dig in with a foundation that we believe in and really bring our mission to the forefront,
[00:05:07.760] - Christian
We're not just pizza, we're it's about people, right? So it's people then pizza. It's the people that work. It's the people that come through the door. I've learned that it's not about pizza. It's about the pizza has got to be great, but it's how you serving the people, how are you serving your customers, how you serving your staff. It's all about the people then the product comes. And that's what I've learned. It's all about the people then the product.
[00:05:32.900] - Lloyd
Right and for those of you who maybe are new to knowing your story of Slice 420, really encourage you to follow them on social media, I'll tell you, it's like a ray of sunshine. And getting to know your family is really, truly just so great. And there are times that I get a lesson from you and I should just pick up the phone and say, dude, thank you, because you just taught me a lesson. I mean, there'll be a day that I'm feeling sad for myself for the stupidest thing. I have to back to back conference calls or whatever, you know, when we look at kind of what you guys are dealing with.
[00:06:13.490] - Lloyd
But not only that, it's your attitude, the smiles on your faces, your wife's smile, just lights up the whole world. It's just great. And I think it's it's a feed that everybody could appreciate just from the standpoint of of soaking in that sunshine. So thank you so much. Thank you. All right, so now let's get to why I reached out and said we got to do an interview. Second location, kind of from what I gather, it sounds like it is going to serve maybe a slightly different part of Colorado Springs. Like how how long have you been thinking about this? And tell me a little bit about how far it is from the old store.
[00:06:56.090] - Christian
OK, so how long have I been thinking about this? Ironically, this business was presented to me about four years ago when I first opened Slice 420. Uh the gentlemen, this dream to open a pizzeria P38 it was called. He flew planes as a pilot, he flew a P38 plane. He did a very nice job in the building. Unfortunately, he had cancer and he passed away and I met his wife.
[00:07:18.790] - Christian
I just didn't have the means and the time to to dive into something because I had reached a goal, which was Slice 420. And a question you had to ask was, how long were you thinking about that? I always have short term goals and long term goals. Right. So when you meet that, you start looking for the next goal. So as soon as I got Slice 420, always on the back burner in a matter of a time, where would be the second location?
[00:07:42.610] - Christian
So that's always that's always the thought is expanding in a healthy way, not expanding too fast and not having the infrastructure. So four years of an infrastructure, great management and producing our handbook's, our culture, our mission, our salary, paid employees or vacation time, you know, things that we can offer. We've been building that because we want longevity with people and to give people an opportunity for careers as well. I want you to come to Slice 420 and have a career.
[00:08:10.660] - Christian
I just don't want you to come and get a paycheck. But if that's if you just come in for a paycheck, we ask for you to just treat this as if you were here forever and we got your back. You know, it's a two way street. You know, people are coming through still have to treat that job with utmost respect for your business and you help them get to where they got to go. So, you know, I always work with the people.
[00:08:29.770] - Christian
I like to know where they're at. What do you want to be? Do you want to own your own store or do you want this or you want to work? So I can help them actually be successful in their own thing. I mentor a lot of kids right now about buying their own house as a first time buyer, leverage your credit, things like that that we're not learning in the world because I'm very, I love finance as well as I do pizza because I believe everybody should live some type of independency with financial and not always being a slave to your paycheck.
[00:08:54.850] - Christian
I learned that from my parents and I was like, I just don't want to do that. So, you know, I try not to do that. So this location over here, we have the infrastructure, we're bursting out of the seams over here. We're tremendously busy, thank God. And we saw this location. So we met the gentleman, met when he had cancer, met his wife. One eighty, three sixty. We come back around a good friend of mine.
[00:09:19.090] - Christian
He's like, oh, I have this location has a lot of things in it. So I go there. It's the same location. I'm like, all right, Lord, maybe you maybe you're speaking to me. Right? So this story is what it is. So I'm not going to tell you the story. So [insert name], he is a buddy of mine from church. He's a realtor. So we're like the people wanted X amount of dollars.
[00:09:38.740] - Christian
It's been sitting there. So I said, let's pray about it real quick. And in six months, if it's still here, we'll offer him what we what we agree on right now. And that's what we did. We prayed on it. We came back. It was still there. We made the offer that we said we were going to say in every single door flew open and it was fully equipped. So there is at least three hundred thousand dollars worth of build out, beautiful build out, goods, walk-in.
[00:10:02.290] - Christian
I mean, I stole ten thousand dollars worth of equipment that I didn't even need in there already. So it was like I bought a building and property and open a treasure chest. So it was on the other side of town, nine miles away. So this is the west side where I'm at originally now we're on the east side. Two different demographics. West Side, I have a beautiful a lots of tourism. I have an established neighborhood. We have Garden of the Gods, Pikes Peak.
[00:10:29.140] - Christian
We have also constantly people who come to this area. The East Side is the central residential high volume traffic area. So two different you, you might not have those tourists working through Garden of the Gods because you don't have that. You have the family neighborhoods, people commuting from work. So two different demographics on both sides of the town. And we're really right now, we're doing construction, waiting on a couple of permits, and we just really hope it to be open in mid July, August. That's that's what we're going for.
[00:10:58.930] - Lloyd
OK, and then I know the current Slice 420 was tiny. You were really kind of bursting at the seams, kind of what's the size and level of service that you're looking at in the second location?
[00:11:09.820] - Christian
Absolutely. So, Slice 420 West Side is 850 square feet, very small. And thank God we have an outside patio now that fits about thirty five people, ten people on a sidewalk and fifteen people outside. So at any time we're 850 square feet, we have 60, 70 people there. We have a line up or I mean it's. We're very honored and grateful and so excited to give them a great product. Like that's what we strive for, not just to be busy and make money.
[00:11:38.750] - Christian
No, because if we have a bad service, mistakes or anything like that, the money isn't fulfilling anymore. It's when you when everybody worked as a team, a unit, we communicated. We did our best. Who cared if you made a mistake, move on. Don't, get it done. That's a victory for me. The victories with the people, seeing it come together, seeing the more passionately, the systems and processes in place. So that really drives that. That really excites me, to be honest with you. You know. Really? Yeah.
[00:12:11.120] - Lloyd
Yeah. That's so awesome. Did covid change your timeline, do you think or no? Was it roughly, it just had to do with the place still being available?
[00:12:21.350] - Christian
Yes, because they...And I wouldn't pay that kind of money for it. If I had the money, I thought it was too, there's no way, business was closed. The property is worth this. So how do you want this? Right. There was no business. So we just came around six months later and he was probably paying the mortgage on that for at least 12, 13 months. So I just gave him an offer of the building of what it was worth. And that was it. And he took it.
[00:12:50.440] - Lloyd
Yeah, it's actually probably a great opportunity for them, I mean, it seems like they weren't getting any other offers. Yeah, it's a blessing all the way around, right? Yes. So let me ask you something. I mean, if you when I talk to operators, one of the common threads among all of them is the difficulties in hiring and for all positions. Now, with the second location, do you see that as being kind of more problematic or something that, I know that you're you're a very organized guy.
[00:13:20.590] - Lloyd
And so, like you talk about, you know, having procedures and that's the way to go. I mean, all of this you've thought out way ahead of. I would have ever I'm just not wired that way. But kind of curious, given kind of the labor situation as you go into this second location, whether that is something that is new or different.
[00:13:42.700] - Christian
Yeah, definitely. You know, staff has always been, you know, an issue even before covid. Right. Maybe you would get maybe you would have a lot more people. It still didn't mean you were getting the right people anyhow. And I know that we have a shortage of workers. Everybody's going through the same thing right now with all this, with unemployment money and all these things that people are saying. So what I just hope to do is capture the right audience by, first of all, creating the right ads, secondly, having the right... So I don't just let somebody come in when they apply, my manager calls them on a zoom. Five, 10 minutes before they even come in the door to see how was the chemistry? How is your attitude? Your act. OK, then come in. So they see that it's a system, it's a process. And then we do have salary paid positions.
[00:14:38.050] - Christian
We do have vacation time. We do have sick time. We're trying to work in health benefits right now. So we try to make it somewhere that's just not a fly by job anyway. Where you just get a quick job. No, I want it to be a little bit more meat on the bone for people. And the other thing that. Excuse me, sorry. OK, OK, so if there is a budget when you make money, so I have a budget. There's a food budget, labor budget, there's a supply budget.
[00:15:09.420] - Christian
Right. You have budgets. So. Everybody, what you would want to cut a corner to save money, maybe your labor. Sure, if you can cut an hour here, cut an hour there. But you cannot cut out the people. You can't sacrifice quality and expect to pay cheap to people, people gotta support their families. People want I don't want to come to work and just make a paycheck and that's it. I need to save money.
[00:15:33.120] - Christian
I'm not doing or I'm not doing something that's not good enough for me. That's not good enough for my family. If I come to work and can't save money for my family, then I better get another job or better find something better. So I want it to be. I have a lot of people that do work for me. They have two jobs. So the way that I see it, they're really good. Why do you need two jobs? Just work, five doubles.
[00:15:58.140] - Christian
I have one of these. So instead of giving them 40, I'll give them 70 hours on a salary. And it doesn't change, all their holidays are paid, they get a paid vacation, so I salary them, you know, so I'm not running into an overtime situations with people because at the end of the day, they're working two jobs anyway. They're not getting overtime. So if they were 30 for me and 30 for them, they have the overtime.
[00:16:20.170] - Christian
But how about you just get one job, oh you want 70 hours? No problem. So now they're not going back and forth. They have stability. They have a salary. They have a paid vacation. When I. When I close Fourth of July, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year's Eve, I close those days, they're paid. So those those are a lot of incentives for people who want to stay...
[00:16:46.750] - Lloyd
Yeah, yeah it totally makes sense if the guy's a great team member. Why not? Why get half of his greatness? Reward him with with being there and you get the benefit as well.
[00:16:57.400] - Christian
Yes, definitely. But what I do with my salary is one of the things I do is that I don't lowball them either on the salary. I give them a great a great salary because they know that they like they can look at it one way and say, well, you know, I could have been getting overtime for those 20 hours. You're right. But I would never give you 60 hours with overtime. I'd give you forty hours and you would get no overtime.
[00:17:18.250] - Christian
So my item is that would you like this as a position? I'm going to pay you even more in hourly because you're a salary and they love it and they stick around because their paycheck doesn't stay. And if I ask them to work more, somebody is on vacation. I pay them for what they work. So at the end of the day, there's no there's no gray area. I'm just straight up black and white, you know, don't mess with people's money.
[00:17:43.360] - Christian
Take care of them the best you can. And if they ruin it, then that's on them. So I'd rather give I'd rather say, hey, here's what I got to offer you say you can do it. You show me if you don't do that in one day or two days, if you're a pro, you know, all of us in the industry, you know, if you take a a dough ball...if you're a professional or not?
[00:18:02.980] - Christian
You know, so. Yeah, you know, taking care of the people, guys, I mean, out there, it's I mean I mean, you want to be taken care of the next person next to you wants to be taken care of, please. I don't want to hear it. So we need to say hey, as an owner. We need to take care of the people because the people take care of you back. Not everybody, but that's OK, not every owner is good either. So you ween those people out. That's OK. That's a part of business.
[00:18:26.990] - Lloyd
That's great. And so I wanted to kind of it's a slight tangent, but one that I wanted to bring up is part of what I love about your Instagram feed is two things. One, your videos of what the offerings are that day and the slice window are just awesome. I just love those. I mean, it's just like more than a static picture. It shows, you know, the variety of things. But more than that, it kind of shows you so I think most people want to see that even if they've never been to Slice 20, Slice 420. Have a feeling, have a feeling of kind of of you and the shop by extension, before they ever set foot in it. I think that's fantastic.
[00:19:12.460] - Christian
Thanks, Man. I hope so.
[00:19:13.730] - Lloyd
Yeah. The other the other thing is when you do those videos and you include your staff, to me that's just golden. And it's one of many ways when you talk about you're taking care of your people and all that, it's just like it shows and to me, that's a lot of fun.
[00:19:29.710] - Christian
Thank you, man. It is very important for me to make people feel special because they are special. And without those people, there would be no way for me to have any type of freedom with my family or go to an expo. And I also took my team to Las Vegas. I took I took nine people to Las Vegas one year I remember. And then the following for the Northeast, I took my head chef Jesse and we both competed. I think bonding with my guys is as much as I can and help them to get where they want to go because, you know, they want to own a house.
[00:20:01.250] - Christian
They want, nobody, the funny thing is, that they don't believe that they can do any of that. It's so hard. So but I've been there and I've done that already, and it's not as hard as we think. So I really want to help my guys be financially free and independent on their own. So they're not a slave. They're not a slave to money.
[00:20:20.030] - Lloyd
Yeah, no, that's that's so awesome that that means that to you they're more than just, you know, somebody that works there. Right. You're investing in future, but also taking taking care of them. And I love that. So. Yeah.
[00:20:34.970] - Christian
And the other is the no matter how much I love you and care about you, I will fire you if I have to, because at the end of the day, I can be a great person like I am with people I'm not, you know, excuse me. I'm first of all, I'm not a great person. I shouldn't I shouldn't say that. So being fair to these guys. Sometimes they mistake that for weakness and want to take advantage.
[00:21:01.040] - Christian
I've had conversations, but after the conversations. A two or three, then it's just time to move on.
[00:21:08.440] - Lloyd
And to me, here's the thing is that's not being a bad person. It's about fit and fit goes both ways. And I've had some jobs that, frankly, they weren't a great fit. That there was nothing. The organization was great. The people I was working with was great. But for whatever reason, it wasn't a fit for me and it wasn't a fit for them. Hey, life is short. Let's move on. Yeah, yes, yeah.
[00:21:33.640] - Lloyd
All right. So opening date that you're planning on again for the second location, Christian?
[00:21:37.540] - Christian
Right now we're sometime in mid-July. We're not a hundred percent sure because we're waiting for the electrical permit to come back, as soon as that comes back, it's easy-peasy. Probably, hopefully it should be this week and then, two to four weeks after that.
[00:21:55.920] - Lloyd
Awesome. You're you're a busy, busy guy.
[00:21:57.990] - Christian
Yeah, very busy. And then Jesse, my one of my head pizza chef's is off for two weeks, so I covered all of his shifts plus this. So I'm pretty beat down today. And there was one question that I didn't answer. You asked, or you asked about this? My westside is eight hundred and fifty square feet. Yeah. The East Side, the new location is twenty four hundred square feet. So I got, it's three times the size.
[00:22:24.720] - Christian
But I'm not changing. The menus in both locations will be exactly identical. I'm not going to have chicken wings in one location and not, they're exactly the same. Plus I'm not doing chicken wings anyway because we built our business on pizza. There's no reason to add anything. I know I don't need to. I'm not going to I'm not going to overcomplicate things either.
[00:22:45.750] - Lloyd
Right. Well, it's a busy, busy time. I know that your time is super valuable, can't thank you enough for doing this. Real quick, I'm going to mention you're a Perfect Crust pizza liner customer. We really appreciate you. But honestly, even if you weren't, we appreciate your positivity, your voice in the industry, everything about you, they love it.
[00:23:09.060] - Christian
Thank you. And we love you guys, too. And how you reach out as well. You and Eric, you guys are really crushing it, being, you know, just on top of it with people always doing cool things. Thanks for the videos that you guys make with my face. Those bring tears to my eyes, man, like somebody thought of me today, it's so cool, so cool so much. And, you know, I always want to shout out to all the business owners out there, all the pizza makers, you know, I say hello to all of you.
[00:23:36.870] - Christian
I wish you guys the total best. And, you know, there's been a lot of successes in my business and also a lot of failures in previous businesses. So if anybody ever wants to talk about things that I do in my business that has helped me achieve more customers, more data, essentially more money. Right. Please DM me and I will give you any answer, any question that you asked me with Google, social media, my loyalty program, any systems, anything that you need.
[00:24:07.920] - Christian
If you feel that you have a question and would like to ask me, just message me and I'll give you my best answer.
[00:24:13.710] - Lloyd
That is so awesome. The pizza industry is the best and there are people like you that just really shine. I can't thank you enough for your time.
[00:24:23.850] - Christian
Thank you to you.
[00:24:24.900] - Lloyd
OK, have a wonderful day and a wonderful week.
[00:24:28.110] - Christian
I'm looking forward to the next one. I hope that we talk soon.
[00:24:30.480] - Lloyd
OK, sounds great. Thanks. Bye bye.