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Chuy from Rizzo's Pizza working the dough

The Beginning at Rizzo's Pizza

It was the winter of 2018-2019 and I had just made my way back to New York after spending a season in Mexico, exploring the possibility of relocating there.

I urgently needed a job! As I was walking down Steinway Street in Astoria, a quaint sign grabbed my attention: Rizzo's Fine Pizza, in Astoria Since 1959! Immediately, I knew it was a story I wanted to tell. Right under that sign, hanging from one of the storefront windows, another sign said "Help Wanted". So I walked inside.

Founder Joe Rizzo's son, who was the owner at the time, happened to be there that day, and after listening to some of my story and taking an interest in my background in digital marketing for the tech industry, he said that there might have been something that they could use my help for. But he felt he needed to put me to a test first, so he offered me a job that I was uniquely unqualified for: delivery.

Before that, I had barely managed to get on a bike around the parking lot of a disused railway station in a small Colombian city called Pereira. Riding one across the streets of New York, a city that I was just beginning to discover, or attempting to deliver pizzas in perfect conditions while they were still warm, was far from what I was prepared for. Add to this the fact that I didn't really have any winter clothes, and it was the peak of the cold season.

But I took the job, and survived for two weeks. Then I was brought in and slowly given more responsibilities: starting the pizzas, loading them with toppings before sending them to the oven, tending to the counter or taking orders by phone.

By the time the spring arrived, I had a pretty good idea of all the aspects of the store, and we were ready to start a digital transformation that brought Rizzo's into a new era. We implemented a cloud-based POS solution (Toast), optimized the online ordering experience, an effort that was recognized with a Travel & Hospitality Award in the best online ordering category; seamlessly integrated third party delivery platforms to the store's system, and kicked off a digital marketing strategy that included email marketing, a loyalty program that we named the Rizzo's Neighbors Club, and a social media presence with tons of video content, photos and heartwarming long time customer testimonials.

All of this set Rizzo's Pizza up for success during a critical time, and got them ready to face the challenges brought by the pandemic soon after.

Rizzos Pizza in Astoria for Food As Content Blog 2

Rizzos Pizza in Astoria for Food As Content Blog