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How Mountain Mike’s Pizza has moved forward and stepped up to help our communities navigate challenging times

For every tale of misfortune in the restaurant industry, there are many success stories. Mountain Mike’s is one of them. Part of the reason is that the pizza industry was uniquely prepared to pivot when the pandemic sunk its teeth into the American business landscape.

Dining rooms were closing quickly, and even though that has long been a part of Mountain Mike’s appeal, we are in an industry that has always thrived on delivery and carryout. All we had to do was increase our safety protocols and reassure our loyal fans that we were still open for business, stepping in when other restaurants simply couldn’t.

Our fans responded in a big way, and our hard-working franchise owners were there to meet the increased demand.

“No one is delivering higher increases on carryout and delivery than we are,” says Mountain Mike’s Co-owner and Co-CEO Chris Britt.

What top pizza franchises are doing right

Restaurants were shutting down left and right, but people still had to eat. Comfort food in particular was more desirable than ever. And nothing says comfort like pizza.

In fact, 33 out of 50 states — including California — chose pizza as the definitive comfort food. We’re not sure what went wrong in the other 17 states, but we’ll assume we caught those survey respondents on an off day. This happens to come from multiple surveys conducted before the pandemic, but pizza is still winning the day: 55% of people from a 2020 Farm Rich survey said pizza is their No. 1 pandemic comfort-food go-to (and 35% said they would name their kid “Pizza” in exchange for a free lifetime supply of pizza, but that’s a story for another day).

What Mountain Mike’s and other top franchises are doing to stay on top of the pizza game is remaining flexible. We’ve always prided ourselves on our sense of community, a lot of which has been encouraged by our cozy and welcoming dining rooms where people have been gathering for over 40 years to celebrate life’s happier moments.

But when we couldn’t go back to our favorite pizza to celebrate the game anymore — when games weren’t even being played, for a while — Mountain Mike’s worked hard to help our guests maintain a sense of normalcy.

That meant doubling down on our delivery and carryout procedures, not only making customers feel safe but also delivering to them our same, great, superior product and our exceptional guest experience. It’s not as easy when you’re not smiling and shaking hands in a dining room with the game on, but it’s still doable.

Growth and expansion during COVID

Our success in connecting with our guests has fueled our success at the cash register, too. We expect to end 2020 with 16 new restaurants opened and doing business. That’s a notable accomplishment in any year, let alone a year marked by quarantine and social distancing. Most of that growth is coming from our existing franchisees, demonstrating that they really believe in the direction our brand is going.

We’ve stayed plugged in with our franchisees to offer what they need, pausing franchise royalties, waiving marketing fees, distributing masks to their employees. Our franchisees have in turn stayed in touch with their communities, and they’ve been rewarded with extra business.

If there are silver linings in 2020, certain segments of the pizza industry are part of them.