Mike Amidzich, owner of Pizza Man
Company address: 2597 N. Downer Ave., Milwaukee, WI 53211
Number of employees: About 80
Where does the name “Pizza Man” come from?
“Before Pizza Man, I was in the rock festival business, and at those concerts I roasted chicken and steaks and hot dogs and they called me ‘chicken man.’ So when I got out of that business, the natural progression was to become ‘Pizza Man.'”
What Pizza Man traditions and staples have you retained at your new location?
“The menu is about 50 percent the same. We’ve got the old bar – the original bar. We have the famous hard-to-open doors, and the aesthetics are similar because of 100-year-old barn wood and brick.”
How does the new Pizza Man differ from the original restaurant?
“It’s larger, but yet it’s comfortable. It’s bigger, but it’s designed in a way where it doesn’t look big. It looks cozy. It has a second-floor balcony and patio also.”
How would you describe your business’s culture?
“I would say it’s very eclectic. We get everybody. We get students. We get people from the suburbs. We get young professionals. We have elderly people revisiting memories of Pizza Man. We get a real cross section of people. We don’t have a target demographic, and that’s why we’re so successful. We’re not a fad restaurant. We’re a destination restaurant for so many different types of people.”
What will be your business’s main challenges in the next year?
“Challenges will be to keep the camaraderie and the traditions of the old place. We hope to create a place that will create new memories and new experiences for people to cherish and remember and to pass on to their friends and family. The old place had a lot of character. People got engaged there. They got married there. They had first dates there. And the challenge is to keep that tradition going on. It’s a romantic place to come, to start those relationships in life and hold those celebrations. It’s a place of celebration.”
What’s the hottest trend in your industry?
“There’s two: beer and wine. We’re serving much more craft beers than we have before and of course we’re known for our great wine selection.”
Do you have a business mantra?
“Just service to the customer and a degree of excellence in our food.”
From a business standpoint, who do you look up to?
“Karl Kopp from Kopp’s Frozen Custard and Elsa’s on the Park and Jerry Cohen from Major Goolsby’s – two bar owners.”
What was the best advice you ever received?
“Know your limitations. If you don’t know something, don’t pretend to. Ask for help. Get advice. Don’t try to do it all yourself. Just know what you’re capable of, and when you’re stuck reach out to the experts and find help.”
What do you like to do in your free time?
“I love to golf. It’s relaxing. It’s challenging. You’re playing against yourself. You can never be perfect at it. It’s a challenging game.”