The Perfect Pair: Pizza & Beer

In the rankings of things that are liked throughout America, pizza is certainly among the top 10, if not the top five. If beer isn’t tied with pizza, it’s just behind it. Regardless of whom you are or where you live, it’s almost unheard of that any American dislikes pizza and beer. In plenty of cities, towns and villages across this great land of ours you’ll find pizzerias right next to the local tavern. Pizza has always been popular but it seems as though it’s seeing an explosion in growth parallel to that of craft beer. Consumers are interested in trying the various styles of both, and experimenting with all sorts of pizza toppings. Just like French cuisine plays well with fine French wines, American beer plays well with pizza. Bill Bourbeau, GM of Boynton Restaurant, explained how to maximize this money-making pair.

Just like pizza and craft beer have been skyrocketing in demand, so have the demands for farm-to-table and locally sourced ingredients. Specialty hops are being used in beer. Farmers’ market produce, specialty cheeses and locally sourced proteins are finding their way into pizza. Today’s consumer is paying close to attention to the sources of the ingredients in their foods in beverages. They’ve also, generally speaking, accepted that higher quality food and beverage items made with higher quality ingredients come with higher price tags.

Most bar owners know that pizza is a no-brainer bar food. To truly maximize customer growth and optimize profits with pizza and beer, however, operators need to utilize the two effectively. They need to know their customers, their expectations, the general market segment (college students, families, professionals), and how to make the most money from their audience. Odds are that you know your market and your customers, so what do you need to know next?

You need to cost your pizza and beer properly if you want optimize your profits. When it comes to beer, the ideal number is 16 percent. In terms of pizza, the ideal is 32 percent. The basic formulas are as follows:

  • Beer: $95.00 ÷ 1984 = .0478 x 16 oz. = $.478 ÷ 16% = $4.80
  • Assuming that a small cheese pizza costs you a little under $1 (25 cents in dough, 15 cents in sauce and 50 cents in cheese): 25% food cost @ $5.99 for a 10-inch small cheese before toppings

Now you need put your customers and your costs together to make money. Embrace a good local craft beer or a good local food item (or both, ideally) that can represent you as a brand. This will help you to represent quality. You also need to train your staff on what items are locally sourced and what’s sustainable. They also need to be able to really sell craft beer and not just the typical domestics. Avoiding waste is another key to profits. Don’t bring in expensive locally sourced items if you’re not going to use them. Answering yes to the following questions is also essential:

  • Do you offer something as a bar that your competitors do not?
  • Are you offering beer flights/samplers?
  • Is there anything you’re offering as a pizza seller that others are not?
  • Do you offer multiple sizes and styles of pizza?
  • Have you taken gluten-free guests into account by offering both gluten-free pizza and gluten-free beer and cider?
  • Are their locally sourced pizza toppings and ingredients you use that can pair with local craft beers?

Of course, you’re going to want to shout about pizza, ingredients, beer and local partners. And where is the best place to do that shouting? Social media channels! Instagram is perfect for pictures of beer promotions and new pizza ideas, while Facebook is great for event postings, menu changes, and responding to followers’ questions. Twitter is ideal for spreading the word about promotions such as beer dinners and events.

Finally, you need to understand that pizza and beer represent a fantastic opportunity to increase check averages. Sure, a $10 check average can be achieved by selling cheese pizza and domestic beer. But why not double that average? In fact, why not offer gourmet pizzas in multiple styles for at least $16 and sell great local craft beer for $7? The sky is the limit when it comes to food and beer pairings, and the numbers prove it. According to PMQ Pizza Magazine, the pizza segment has grown 3% over the past year, exceeding expectations. The Brewers Association found that the craft beer segment has seen 22% growth in annual sales. Truly, pizza and beer are the perfect pair.


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