Arizona Pizza Company Franchise Opportunity

Arizona Pizza Company franchise interview

Arizona Pizza Company - One of our first historic interviews before our podcast was launched.

Franchise Interview with Arizona Pizza Company

Franchise Interviews meets with the Arizona Pizza franchise. This was one of our first interviews.

Franchise Interviews- What were you doing before starting Arizona Pizza Company?

Bill Stevens- I owned multiple restaurants. I have been in the restaurant business since I was 20 years old. Arizona Pizza was the culmination of all the different restaurants that I owned.

Franchise Interviews- What were some of the factors that made you decide to go into your own business? Many entrepreneurs we interviewed knew early on that they wanted to go into their own business. Did you have the same experience?

Bill Stevens- My grandmother always told me as a little kid how I would be successful and a millionaire. Your question makes me think back to my first paper route. When I was young, I tried to get a paper route, but my mother wouldn't let me.

Franchise Interviews- Do you remember how old you were?

Bill Stevens- I was around 11 years old and remember having to beg my mother. I couldn't get a job anywhere because I was too young. The paper route was like owning your own business. The way it worked was that the papers came to your home. At the end of the week, you collected all your money, and then you had to pay the publisher "x" amount of dollars, and you got to keep anything left over.

Arizona Pizza Company franchise interview

We already had a great system in place with Arizona Pizza Company. 

Arizona Pizza Comapany 

Franchise Interviews- What were some of the biggest obstacles you had to overcome in starting Arizona Pizza Company?

Bill Stevens- The one obstacle for most people is money. The biggest obstacle for me in the beginning was understanding all the documentation. We already had a great system in place with Arizona Pizza Company. However, it had to be documented, and it took a whole year to assemble all that information. I started Arizona Pizza Company because I kept creating restaurant concepts and opening new restaurants. I was in restaurant number 4 and told myself I should design a package that I could replicate repeatedly. I didn't originally intend to franchise the concept, but I knew I wanted to be in the restaurant business on a larger scale.

Franchise Interviews- Did you know Arizona Pizza Company would work as well as it did?

Bill Stevens- I strongly felt Arizona Pizza Company would work but never thought as well as it did. As I previously stated, I never planned on franchising the concept. I did plan on building some more restaurants for myself. A franchise attorney from out of state ate at the restaurant during his summer vacation. He had a second home in the area, and he had read about the opening in the newspaper. The casual dining atmosphere was enhanced by the wood-burning pizza oven, the Southwestern theme, signature pizza and pasta dishes, and cable television sets strategically placed throughout the restaurant. I was surprised at how smoothly the operation ran. He called me about franchising the Arizona Pizza Company concept. For me, I enjoy building these restaurants and putting them together.

Arizona Pizza franchise opportunity

 There are no cutting corners

Franchise Interviews- What factors do you contribute to your success with Arizona Pizza Company?

Bill Stevens- There are no cutting corners. We use the best products consistently. We offer great products at an inexpensive price. The concept was developed with the family and kids in mind, yet geared toward a broad demographic base that included families, singles, old and young. I know every aspect of this business. I understand the needs of the different types of customers. I know all the puzzle pieces from menu development, equipment, financial planning, and cooking. I have done every single job, and I know it so well. 

The first restaurant's success eventually led to the development of the Arizona Pizza system in 2001, when Bill's third restaurant, featuring the same theme and much of the same menu but with greater emphasis on efficiency and economy, opened in Lenox, Massachusetts.

Franchise Interviews- Why did you choose the restaurant industry?

Bill Stevens- There was an old pizza place for sale, and I said I would try that. I didn't think I would be a restaurateur in a million years.

Franchise Interviews- What is a typical day like as an Arizona Pizza franchisee?

Bill Stevens- I will tell you why Arizona Pizza is a great franchise. It's not as large as an investment or even as big as an Applebee or Chili's. It's a smaller-scale restaurant, but you're not the guy behind the counter of a deli making the subs. You are more like a project manager than a hands-on worker. You do the accounting of sales from the previous day. You also might put in and receive your orders and then be at the hostess deck seating customers.

Franchise Interviews- What skills does someone need to become an Arizona Pizza Company franchisee?

Bill Stevens- Strong organizational skills and the ability to multi-task. Also, the drive to work and be your own boss is essential.


Franchise Interviews- What advice would you give aspiring entrepreneurs looking to buy franchises?

Bill Stevens- To not just be focused on the fees and the royalties. They have to research what a typical day is like as a franchisee. They also need to look at the history and experience of the franchisor.

Franchise Interviews- How has your life changed since starting Arizona Pizza?

Bill Stevens- It has changed for the better because more people are working for me now. I am starting to do the things I like to do and am good at, such as evaluating and improving our systems and designing and building restaurants.

Franchise Interviews- How big would you like to see Arizona Pizza Company get?

Bill Stevens- The sky is the limit. Our menu is designed for all kinds of people. We want to bring Arizona Pizza as far as we can. We have a different product. We opened up in the land of the giants. We are within a mile radius of all of the biggest competitors in the United States. We are next to the Cheesecake Factory, Applebees, and Chili's. People always comment on the fact that we are so unique. We figured out how to do things from all the years of owning restaurants. We can make our lunches and dinners to order where many competitors are prepackaging. We also offer a combination of service methods that meet the customers' needs, e.g., take-out, eat-in, and curbside delivery.

We have developed a system that provides quality food at an economical price and an atmosphere that appeals to customers of all ages and groups.