Pizza Head, the vegetarian pizzeria on the Tower Grove East side of the South Grand strip, closed until further notice on March 17. Owner Scott Sandler has kept busy in the meantime, though, hosting a pop-up bagel sale and plotting how to reopen his restaurant during the coronavirus pandemic.
Pizza Head will indeed return Thursday (April 2), and bagels will play a role in its new business model.
It wasn't simply the halt to dine-in service that forced Sandler to shift his operations. Customers can no longer walk in and grab a slice or two to go.
“Our slice model is dead,” Sandler tells Off the Menu. “That was 50 percent of our business.”
The exact details are fluid — “It's changing every day,” Sandler says — but the plan is to make bagels in the morning and whole pizzas in the afternoon and evening.
Customers will order bagels online in the morning and pick them up when Pizza Head is open for pizza ordering and pick-up from 3-8 p.m. After opening Thursday through this weekend, the planned regular days of business are Tuesday through Sunday.
At Gioia's Deli, owner Alex Donley calls it the Payroll Pizza.
Sandler says the bagels have been “extremely popular” with customers, and if they continue to be so, he might have a couple of convection ovens installed in Pizza Head's dining room to handle demand.
“Right now we're going to bake them in the pizza ovens, which are terrible to bake bagels in,” he says. “We're making it work.”
Pizza Head will likely offer a set number of whole pizzas each day, Sandler says. With only four ovens in its kitchen, the restaurant can bake only so many pies over five hours.
Sandler believes Pizza Head is in a good position to weather the pandemic without turning to any of the measures made available through the federal stimulus.
“Fortunately, I've always been the one to realize that when you're feasting, you've got to be worrying about the famine,” he says. “I've always taken care of that element.”
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