Warm Smiles and Great Tasting Pizza
If you haven’t stopped by Pizza Factory recently it may be time to stroll in and meet the new owners who purchased the business three months ago. Kulvir Aujla and her husband Sukhi are quickly earning a reputation not only for their great tasting pizza but also for their warm and friendly service.
The business is truly a family affair. Kulvir is the primary owner and Sukhi assists her in the kitchen along with marketing the business and making deliveries. Their niece Alyssa McGahey is also actively involved on the front end. In addition, Sukhi’s father and the couple’s son and daughter come in to assist and volunteer their time.
Another behind the scenes promoter is Sukhi’s mother. Kulvir says, “She is an ambassador and promotes Pizza Factory to seniors. Our kids have also been actively promoting the business to their friends and sports teams.”
Sometimes when an opportunity crosses your path you have to jump at it. Kulvir was working in management at Walmart when she heard through the grapevine that Pizza Factory in Steveston was for sale. With an extensive background in the restaurant industry she felt the time was ripe to make the leap and run her own business.
They gave the restaurant a fresh makeover with olive green paint, new seating, a new countertop and wall signage to showcase the full menu.
A fun new seaside logo features a friendly orca named “Pep” (short for pepperoni). In the future Pep will become a costumed mascot. They are grateful to Yeti Works in Steveston village for designing their fun logo and website. Sukhi and Kulvir point out that they are eager to support local businesses.
What are the couple finding most rewarding in the early days of running the business?
They say working together for the first time is a pleasure. They are also feeling empowered being self-employed which allows them the freedom to make decisions for their business. They thoroughly enjoy getting to know their customers as they drop in and become regulars. Sukhi says, “Our intention is it run it like the TV show Cheers.”
“We’re having a good time. That’s what we want to do.” Sukhi Aujla
The Aujlas live in Richmond’s Hamilton neighbourhood, but have always had an affinity for Steveston. They believe the two areas share a similar spirit. They are excited to be a part of Steveston’s business community and are demonstrating their philanthropic nature by supporting local events.
Recently they donated 15 pizzas to a group of McMath Secondary School students who participated in Convenant House’s Sleep Out to Support Homeless Youth. Pizza Factory has also become the official pizza supplier for the Islanders 04 softball team. Kulvir says, “We are actively looking to support local sports teams in Richmond.”
Over the Easter weekend Pizza Factory staged a three day customer appreciation blitz. A team of 30 volunteers (aka friends and family) helped to conduct this marketing campaign by wearing matching “Ask me how to get a free slice” t-shirts as they handed out coupons throughout Steveston. People lined up around the block to take advantage of this tempting offer and over the course of three days 1,300 slices were served. In the process they discovered ninety per cent of the people who dropped by the business didn’t know they existed.
To introduce more clients to their business they suggest swinging by on July 1 to see what fun things they will be doing to celebrate Canada Day.
New to Pizza Factory are loyalty cards and pizza by the slice. High school students in particular appreciate being able to drop by at lunchtime with the new earlier business hours (open at 11 a.m.). For Kulvir and Sukhi it is all about forging a symbiotic relationship with their customers. Their intention is to always keep the question “what can we do for you?” in the foreground of conducting business. The direct result of a customer’s request, Pizza Factory now offers 15% off take out pizzas.
“Our customers appreciate us as much as we appreciate them.” Kulvir Aujla
While Pizza Factory is a franchise each location is given freedom to customize their business to best fit the community. They are not restricted to abide by a set menu and can introduce special items such as chicken and veggie samosas, Punjabi-style pizza and butter chicken may soon be introduced. Some of the top sellers include Hawaiian, house special, taco, bacon burger, barbecue chicken, spinach and of course, kid pleasing favourites, cheese and pepperoni pizzas. Gluten-free is available for medium size pizzas and whole-wheat crust is available upon request. All of the dough is made fresh each morning.
“If we’re blessed by the pizza gods we make dough more than once a day.” Sukhi Aujla
Every business has good stories and one unfolded during our interview. A Power Rangers film production member came in with a request for 42 pizzas for the crew, which were needed the following day. He had heard the buzz that Pizza Factory was the place to go for exceptionally friendly service.
It couldn’t happen to nicer people.
120-12020 First Avenue
Richmond BC V7E 3L9