That integration has been fairly smooth, says
“Certainly, we integrated the back office,” Baines said, “and pieces of the business. But as far as the businesses themselves, there’s an independent leader for the
Baines said with both companies based out of
Today, those plum tomatoes are hand-crushed, and Anthony’s adds olive oil, salt and pepper and a small amount of garlic to make the simple pizza sauce.
“We want the quality of tomatoes to shine through on their own,” Baines said.
The brand uses a mozzarella cheese from
“When the dough is pressed out, we actually put the cheese on the dough first, and then we just put dollops of the tomatoes on top,” Baines explained. That’s important because the brand fires pizzas in a 900-degree coal-fired oven.
“That’s how we end up with this really nice, crisp, slightly charred crust,” Baines added. “Not only does it eat really well inside the restaurant, but because of that crispness and the fact that you have the cheese protecting the crust from the tomatoes, it travels really well also.”
Anthony’s commitment to freshness doesn’t stop there. The meatballs are made in-house and are still made from Bruno’s grandmother’s recipe.
The brand uses jumbo chicken wings, and only fresh. They’re never frozen. In fact, there’s not even a freezer in Anthony’s units. The wings are marinated overnight with some lemon, basil and garlic and they get roasted in that 900-degree oven. The company goes through more than 3 million pounds of chicken wings a year. Wings comprise 15% of sales.
Salads use the hearts of romaine and focaccia bread is hand-torn. Even croutons are made in house.
“The 900-degree oven is at the center of everything,” Baines said. “It’s coal fired. Each morning, the first job that the pizza maker has when he or she comes in is to coal the oven. We load that up with 340 pounds of coal every day to set it right and get that really, really high temperature.”
Even the vegetables put on the pizzas are roasted in the oven, which imparts a nice, charred flavor.
“All those things from a food standpoint differentiate the product,” Baines said.
Training pizza makers to bake pizzas in the coal fired oven is akin to teaching a chef how to grill a perfect steak, Baines said. It takes time to teach people how to use the oven and its nuances.
“The good news is that they’re really only dealing with one product,” Baines said, “and what I’ve found is we really get high levels of consistency and execution. If someone is making the same product over and over and over, they tend to get really, really good at it.”
In 2020, Baines said the brand worked with Woodstone, a manufacturer of ovens, to test our gas-enhanced coal-fired ovens. They baked more than 100 pizzas and wings in the oven to see if it would impart the same flavors as their coal-fired ovens, and it did. The gas/coal-fired ovens have been introduced into three Anthony’s locations and they’ll be used in all new Anthony’s restaurants going forward.
Pizza comprises about 50% of sales.
Beer and wine are available. Some units have a full liquor license, and alcohol sales are healthy, ranging from 13-20% of sales depending on location.
Baines admits there’s not a lot of innovation at Anthony’s. Instead, the brand looks to stick to what it does best – its core products being pizza, meatballs, wings and salad.
“We work really hard to make sure we execute at a high level of consistency,” Baines added.
There’s a big focus on hospitality and making sure customers feel comfortable. Servers always offer up to serve the first slice for the guests.
Prior to COVID, Anthony’s experienced 30% of off-premise dining, and during COVID it was up to 100% so the food has to travel well, Baines added. Today, sales are an even mix of 50% off-premise and 50% dine in.
Anthony’s uses AI technology for answering the phone to take orders. “It’s really helped us,” Baines said. “On a peak Friday night, it can be challenging at times for our wonderful people answering the phone and taking orders. We have about a half-million orders a year that come through the telephone, and now we know that we’re never going to miss one (and) we don’t have to put anybody on hold. It’s great that these technologies continue to be refined to where it can be really, really helpful and help (customers) to have a seamless experience for the guest.”
The brand maintains continuity with a robust training program for managers, with two or four managers per restaurant depending on the volume of a location. Anthony’s has been successful promotion from within, and they encourage employees to think about their time with Anthony’s as a career.
Anthony’s footprint is shrinking as the business evolves and more business is off-premise. The legacy Anthony’s are about 3,200 square feet, and the new model will be about 2,000 to 2,200 square feet. There’s less capital investment, helping to make the brand more attractive to franchisees.
The brand is currently seeking out qualified franchisees.
“Taking care of people in this industry is by far the most important,” Baines said. “It’s a wonderful business. Yeah, it’s hard work, but it’s also a lot of fun. People who are attracted to this business and stay in the restaurant business are those that like being around people, like being around guests but also like being a part of a team, and being a part of developing a team.”
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