Illinois based “Simply Slices” pizza shop wants to take their show on the road. Owners Dino and Debbie Pavoni reached out to “The Profit” and Marcus Lemonis asking for help to launch their concept of a franchise drive-thru pizza shop after unsuccessfully investing $100K in franchising their business.
This family owned and operated pizza shop has 2 locations in Illinois. The Crestwood location is managed by their founder and patriarch of the family, Dino Pavoni, while the Burbank location is managed by his son, Doug Pavoni. To say that this company is complicated by family dynamics would be a grave understatement. This issue, as well as the owner’s resistance to change, immediately surfaced as hindrances to the company moving forward in its desire to move into franchising.
Because Marcus is always on the lookout for fast-casual dining experiences and their pizza had good taste, he felt the Pavoni family’s pitch had viability. The risk of taking on a fast food pizza franchise is that consumers won’t adopt the idea and therefore the concept will be unable or organically grow. Conversely, the rewards are that if you are first to market, that you have the ability to be the market leader.
Marcus decides to invest $200K in exchange for 50% of the franchise concept plus his infrastructure which is 30 people who do nothing but work on franchise concepts. Dino will keep 100% of the two operating locations. He wants to look at the name, the menu, everything in reference to the franchise concept. Dino is concerned that he will change it too much.
In his initial assessment of the business, Marcus liked that they had a mascot for their business as it gives people a visual to attach to the brand. He felt that this made the business more light and fun. Another positive of the business is that they also had established processes and recipes for everything that they would like to hand over to franchisees.
The first area of improvement that Marcus highlights is the menu. In order to guide their customer’s focus, Marcus felt they must simplify the menu so the customers understand their choices and the offering quickly. Changes to the menu could also mean increased production efficiencies. He was also concerned with how outdated the restaurant felt. Addressing these issues gave the view the first glimpse into just how uncomfortable with change owner Dino Pavoni really is.
Tensions continue to escalate throughout the remainder of the show. It is clear that not only is Dino unwilling to change, but there are deep-seeded issues between him and his son Doug who manages the Burbank location. In Doug’s contract, he can not make any changes without approval from his parents so that he doesn’t ruin the family “brand” and damage the chances of getting a franchise. Dino and Debbie have also taken issue with an employee of Doug and his wife Christine’s who was formally let go from the Crestwood location and would not come to a meeting with Marcus at the Burbank branch because of this.
While tempers are already on high-alert, Dino’s frustrations continue to rise as Marcus holds a focus group at their main Crestwood location. Marcus gives the customers a platform to give their feedback on the food and shaved ice menu as well as the pricing structure and options on the menu. It is clear at this point that there is a good chance that things are going to end very badly between Dino and Marcus as Dino has a difficult time keeping his annoyance in check.
Marcus has already attempted to simplify the menu and to update equipment to speed up the ordering and cooking processes when he sets his sight on changing Dino’s sauce recipe. Marcus arranges a meeting with celebrity chef, Fabio Viviani, who specializes in the Italian food space to help Dino improve his sauce recipe and make it scalable. Marcus teaches that cheaper ingredients aren’t always better. Sometimes having a better product and getting more repeat business will make you more profitable than the money you save on lower quality ingredients. Dino decides not to show up for this meeting and Marcus is beginning to get very upset with Dino’s behavior. He takes Dino a sample of the new sauce recipe and Dino rejects it. As we see time and time and again, Dino is completely resistant to change in his business.
As a last stitch effort to get Dino to buy into the proposed changes, Marcus suggests a competition between the two branches to reimagine and design their spaces and make upgrades. When Marcus checks in to see how the competition is going, he is completely shocked to learn that Dino will not allow the kids to make changes because he doesn’t trust their judgment and that he is trying to push Doug out of the business. When Marcus addresses him about this, it’s game over for Marcus and Dino’s relationship. This episode ended by Dino’s temper taking root resulting in major conflict between Marcus and Dino. They decide to part ways and they will no longer move forward with the show or the concept.
Fans took to Twitter to vent their frustrations about how this episode played out and especially about how they felt about Dino’s character as a businessman.
I live in the southwest suburbs of Chicago and have driven by Simply Slices hundreds of times. I have never eaten there and after watching the show, I now know I will never ever eat there. Dino is a cancer and his wife is brainwashed. The business is doomed.
— MMNDNSS1 (@mrmarklpeterson) July 11, 2018
— Seaira Scholes (@sealbrandxo) July 11, 2018
Well, don’t eat at Crestwood since Dino the owner is such a childish jerk. A moron like him who kicks his own family in the teeth deserves no business from good people. Beware.
— Jamie Bryant (@jameshmbryant) July 11, 2018
Dino you are a man child who needs to get his but kicked for bullying your children. Shame on you and bet you slap your wife around also #TheProfit
— Joe King (@JoeKing_1969) July 11, 2018
— AlanG (@A_l_a_n__G) July 11, 2018
I just watched the Simply Slices episode of #TheProfit. Wow. Did the owner really condescendingly refer to his customers as groupies? This restaurant is in my town but I won’t be going there.
— Amanda ❤️ (@Lets_Go_Hawks) July 14, 2018
— J Paul (@JudePaul_) July 11, 2018
“Simply Slices” should be renamed “Simply Stressful”. #TheProfit
— Thomas Harkins (@TomHarkins5) July 11, 2018
— Patrick Brown (@MrPatrickBrown) July 11, 2018
— April D. Morgan (@ChefAprilDawn) July 12, 2018
— Scott Dearmore (@scottdearmore) July 12, 2018
Finally watching the “Simply Slices” episode of @TheProfitCNBC. So much toxicity. The business is secondary here. Can’t fix the business when these people are so broken. I don’t envy @marcuslemonis in this episode so far #TheProfit
— Dennis Stephan (@DennisStephan22) July 13, 2018
#TheProfit episode with Simply Slices left me depressed, it was hard to watch.
— Mike Malloy (@mikemalloy) July 12, 2018
“The Profit” airs every Tuesday at 10 p.m. on CNBC.
What are your thoughts on the concept of a drive-thru pizza shop? How did you feel about the way the episode ended? Let us know in the comments section below!