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Alumni residents sell pizza from basement

Justin Tardiff | Wednesday, November 9, 2005

Domino’s and Sbarro beware. Thanks to sophomore business major Patrick Leimkuehler, the residents of Alumni Hall no longer need to call local restaurants for a slice of pizza.

Leimkuehler, an Alumni resident, is giving local pizza chains the proverbial run for their money after creating a pizza place in the basement of Alumni, aptly named Dawg Pizza after the dorm’s mascot.

Along with two roommates – fellow business major Dan Ott and architecture major Kevin Kelly – Leimkuehler started the business Oct. 8. The three are currently the only employees and are all equal partners.

“I wanted to [start] it last year, and I went to talk to the guy running food sales last year and he just wasn’t really enthusiastic about it,” Leimkuehler said.

But the idea didn’t die. This year, the plan resurfaced through Alumni’s Hall Council, when someone broached food sales as an option for students.

“I said I’d do it because my older brother, who graduated last year, used to work in the Keough kitchen and … they kind of did the same thing, so that’s where I got the idea,” Leimkuehler said.

The basement pizza business set up in Alumni parallels those established by many other men’s dorms such as Keenan, Dillon, Keough, Zahm, Morrissey, Knott and Siegfried. Carroll, Stanford, Sorin, St. Edward’s and Fisher are among those that do not have pizza sales.

Dawg Pizza does not have to pay rent since it also sells dorm merchandise, which helps the business thrive.

But luck played a role, as well.

“We were looking at ovens online, and we got keys to the food sales room in the basement,” Ott said. “We went down there, and we actually found a pizza oven which nobody told us about. I don’t think they knew about it either.”

The three are still trying to cover the starting cost, but they’ve made more than $1,000 in sales, not all of which is profit, after only about two weeks of work, Leimkuehler and Ott said.

“Supplies cost a lot,” Leimkuehler said. “Last week we over-ordered, so we had some crusts that just went bad.”

Despite such initial difficulties, sales have continuously improved.

Leimkuehler said being a business major has helped smooth some bumps in the road.

“Initially there wasn’t anything specifically I used from class, but as we started doing stuff we made spread sheets from our Management IT class that we use,” he said. “As we started the business up, more and more stuff that we learned in class was making sense.”

Sophomore Josh Raycroft, one of Dawg Pizza’s first loyal customers, said the three men make a good pizza.

“I think it’s really cool how they took the initiative to put it together,” Raycroft said. “The guys are cool, and I like to help them out. It’s convenient, it’s right here and it’s not that expensive.”

Leimkuehler said price and time are two of Dawg Pizza’s greatest selling points.

“It’s really cheap,” he said. “It’s like four dollars for a 12-inch pizza, and we’ll deliver to your room in under 10 minutes.”

Ott said that residents seem to like the pizza and that people have been buying Dawg Pizza instead of going to LaFortune.

Dawg Pizza also sells breadsticks, nachos and drinks.

Students said they like to work in the pizza places in dorms because it’s generally not a difficult job.

“I occasionally get people ordering from Stanford, so I guess it shows that if people know it’s there, they’ll make use of it. We get a lot of business usually,” said John Cappa, a sophomore in who works in Keenan’s pizza place, Zaland.

As in Alumni, most of the dorms’ pizza services do not bring in a lot of money.

“It’s pretty much non-profit. What we make I just give back to the workers,” said Morrissey senior Dan Liem, who ran his hall’s concessions last year.

“We made sure all the drinks are at least 50 cents cheaper than the vending machines,” Leimkuehler said.

Word of mouth has already taken Dawg Pizza a long way, with the help of Mass announcements and advertising.

“We’ve put flyers throughout the dorm and sometime this week we’re [going to] slide flyers under everyone’s door,” Leimkuehler said.

Dawg Pizza is open Sunday after Mass until 1 a.m., and Monday through Thursday from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. Orders can be placed in person or by phone. After 11 p.m., the pizza is delivered to dorm rooms.

Each of the three employees works about 10 hours a week. From 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. only one person works, but after that, at two of the men are in the kitchen. Over time, the men expect to hire other students in order to expand the hours, deliver to other dorms and perhaps spread out to basements of other dorms.

“It’s really fun. It’s not hard to do, I hang out with my friends and we deliver to people in our dorm, so it’s really kind of social, too,” Leimkuehler said.

Generally the other in-hall concessions open after 9 p.m. on most days of the week, and benefit the students who work in them.

O’Neill has a concession business on the first floor.

“We sublet [the profits] to a couple of guys that run it. It’s been that way all the years I’ve been there,” O’Neill rector Ed Mack said. They sell pizzas, breadsticks, and different kinds of pop. We just got the slushie machine fixed, so they’re in the slushie operation now.”