The unwavering support of loyal pizzeria diners ensures a local entrepreneur’s restaurant dreams become a reality.
Small pizza shops in central Ohio face many competitors but thrive on consistent business with loyal customers. With online buzz from fellow pizza enthusiasts, unique pies, and quality food, these local businesses thrive in Columbus.
“We didn’t know why we were so busy,” said Robyn Hensley, owner of Possum Holler Pizza in Obetz. “And then one of our friends who owns another pizza place said, ‘You guys are all over this Facebook page.'”
The Facebook page “Pizza Connoisseurs of Columbus” – which currently has more than 50,000 members – is full of posts complimenting Possum Holler. The Connoisseurs only support local pizzerias and the group’s homepage specifically states “NO CHAIN PIZZA!!” may be encouraged.
Unlike chain restaurants, mom and pop pizza places are locally owned and operated by local people, with one or very few restaurants in their community.
Other restaurateurs win loyal customers through their variety of preparation methods and pizza styles.
“We have a different style of pizza,” said Ed Bisconti, owner of Borgata Pizza Cafe. “I’ve been cooking all my life, and we serve New York-style pizza, and we do all homemade Italian, too.”
Bisconti owns the three Borgata stores: in Worthington, Parksville Street in Columbus and at the Budd Dairy Food Hall on North 4th Street.
Bryan Tyler, owner of Tyler’s Pizzeria & Bakery in Reynoldsburg, said his loyal customers appreciate that his pizzeria is a small business. The larger pizza chains, like Donato’s Pizza near Tyler’s, occupy a different market than convenience stores, he said.
“I can’t imagine how many pizzas they make in one night,” Tyler said. “On a Good Friday night we make 40 pizzas and that’s amazing because everything is made fresh, it’s made very differently.”
Tyler’s doesn’t just make pizza, but the store is a fully functional bakery with a wood-fired oven to make bread, cakes, pizza rolls, calzones and more, Tyler said.
The bakery is a selling point for many customers, especially as the holiday nears, he said.
“Thanksgiving is a very busy time of year for us making pumpkin pecan pies and buns,” Tyler said.
With supply shortages affecting all the supplies, groceries and paper products needed to operate, Tyler said the store’s loyal customers have helped them stay afloat. During the peak of the pandemic, when bread was sold out, customers who came in to do their regular shopping had to leave empty-handed, he said.
“I was concerned that this craziness would hurt our business with our regular customers,” Tyler said. “But it didn’t, and they came back.”
Tyler said he’s able to do what he loves because of his loyal patrons.
“It’s my dream job,” Tyler said. “Other people go to work, I can come in and bake.”