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INSIDE DISH: Restaurateur rebounds with Pizzology

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Inside Dish

Welcome back to IBJ’s new video feature, “Inside Dish: The Business of Running Restaurants.”

Our subject this week is Pizzology Pizzeria & Pub, a new comfort-food concept by local restaurateur and chef Neal Brown. Brown co-owned and operated the high-end, haute cuisine eatery L’explorateur in Broad Ripple from 2006 to 2009, when a steep decrease in sales with roots in the recession forced him to close its doors.

“Boy, you can really see with clarity where your mistakes were” after closing a restaurant, Brown said. In retrospect, he realized L’explorateur likely created too narrow a niche for itself in a market that wasn’t entirely ready for unusual and innovative cuisine at that price point. The average ticket per person was about $65, he said.

Noting that friends who ran pizzerias were seeing sales increases during the recession, Brown started mulling a move into Neopolitan-style pies with more friendly prices. When the owners of a Carmel retail center approached him about occupying a recently abandoned pizzeria space, Brown found a home for his next venture. To his relief, Pizzology was profitable in its first full month, with 13-inch pies for less than $15.



Not entirely familiar with the Neopolitan style, Brown enlisted chef Rob Coate to develop a dough recipe and learn the proper high-heat baking techniques. In the video below, Coate discusses the months of research—including making several pies per day for his family—necessary to arrive at an optimal product.



More Dish: Notes from the back of the napkin

Restaurant: Pizzology Pizzeria & Pub
Concept: Neopolitan-style pizza with locally sourced ingredients prepared in-house, and cooked at 800-900 degrees in a gas/wood-fired pizza oven
Location: 13190 Hazel Dell Parkway, Carmel
Phone: 844-2550
Web site: www.pizzologyindy.com
Founded: November 2009
Majority owner: Neal Brown
Finances:  As majority owner, Brown has an 80-percent stake in the business; a group of minority owners has a 20-percent stake and receives 3 percent of gross sales
Start-up costs: About $200,000 to build out and rebrand existing restaurant space, covered by minority owners
Sales/Profit: The restaurant was profitable in its first full month of operation (December 2009), making $355; the following month, it made a profit of about $8,000. It now is netting about 10 percent of gross sales. Sales for March were about $121,000.
Seating: 75 seats inside; 35 seats in enclosed patio
Goals: To control costs and open another four Pizzology outlets in the next four years, including one by the end of the year.
Good to know: Brown co-owned and operated the high-end hotspot L’explorateur from 2006 to 2009; a steep decrease in sales during the recession forced him to close its doors.
 

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  • What happened to Goodfellas
    I go to teh Goodfellas over on Olio, is there or was there another one and did it go out of business?
  • Creative & great wine!
    We love visiting Pizzology. The quality of food is great & the wine list is excellent. Too many local restaurants don't invest the time or energy into a great wine list...Neal has done his homework & has taken the time to research his wines & offer excellent choices with "nice glasses"....we are frequent customers & enjoy the experience every time! We can't wait for addt'l locations!
  • Finally Something Locally Owned in Hamilton County
    Thank goodness for innovative "out of the box" entrepreneurs like Neal Brown. I have dined at Pizzology twice and have been extremely impressed with the atmosphere, service, presentation and food. In addition to the pizza, this restaurant's salads, mussels and breadsticks offer something that your traditional pizza stop hasn't dared to try. Unfortunately, the negative comments shared aren't surprising. For some reason our city is really tough on innovative restaurant concepts. There are plenty of marginal pizza joints for those who choose to find that "the better option." For me, I'll support the local owner/chef that is giving us something different- FINALLY! Best to you Pizzology!
  • Not my experience
    I have enjoyed some wonderful pizza in my life. Until Neal Brown's wonderful creation Indianapolis had nothing to offer. Reminds me of Pepe's in New Haven Connecticut....an institution for almost 100 years. May Pizzology continue to thrive! I will drive the 45 minutes from Downtown indy anytime for this pizza.
  • Calling Gordon Ramsay!!!
    This is a place any reputable chef and knowledgeable food patron would find challenging to love. From the poor and pathetic experience we 16 guests received at the oddly-named diner Sat 4/17, Mason appears to have attended and reviewed a totally different eatery. If this place is the best Carmel can offer, it is no wonder why the population has shifted to Westfield and Noblesville. Burnt, tasteless, delayed food, careless and uncaring "service", an open room that reeks of burnt..."something" the moment you enter, salads with no imagination nor taste....wow, our group of 16 can't believe this place attracts anyone for a second visit. Amazingly, Pizzology is quite proud of its pricing. Our group can well afford any restaurant but we had a real problem being overcharged for what we felt was highly inferior food. Astoundingly, the excuse give for our hour + wait on our pizza orders was that the establishment "didn't enough enough ovens to cook all the pizzas that had been ordered". Gosh, I thought a successful business model would include enough equipment to serve customers. We will never return, we continue to relate our tale to all our Indy and Carmel friends how utterly bad the entire concept is, and to us 16 genuine Italians, what was served up was certainly not Italian food.
    • Awesome place
      I dont know what the reviewers are complaining about. This place is awesome on its own. And that in a city thats dominated by chain restaurants or the likes of Petite Chou which serve bland unimaginative cuisine at $32 price points and yet do roaring business. Truly the food standards in this city are super low - Pizzology has raised the bar beyond sight for most.
    • Who wrote dat?
      >

      That looks remarkably like a well-placed post. Pat. Almost too pat.

      It reminds me of the days when the "rest of the world" started getting on board. For some reason, people couldn't figure out why others hadn't done what they thought about, taking a turn Ben Franklin used: a fictitious person who "... you have to come see the site I visited and it was .... .... ..."

      Fortunately, it doesn't happen quite as often as it used to. But it was funny to do some homework and find the people who were saying this were somehow connected with the topic at hand.
      (challenging them worked quite well as they weren't smart enough to deflect things put to them)

      There used to be something similar: on a discussion list, someone would say, "Lurkers suck!" followed by a "no we don't". oops.
    • Not a Fan
      Agreed... If you like burnt pizza crust then this is your kind of pizza. I would much rather go to Some Guys, Bazbeauz or Puccinis.
    • We need even more
      For a city our size, we have always had a relative paucity of good local restaurants. So I'm ecstatic over Neal's Pizza, Greg's Recess, Martha's takes on Paris and Italy, Dan's Meridian -- all the startups over the last few dozen months that are doing well. As for Frank's comment, Perhaps a personal conversation should be taken offline.
    • Total package
      Though the pizza is top notch, Pizzology also brings the goods on its mussels, salads, soups, and beer and wine list. You will not find a more eclectic, approachable, and affordable wine list around.

      Also, major kudos on the decor and the tunes. The last time I was there I heard plentiful amounts of Wilco, Bowie, and the Beatles. Plus the newly opened patio provides a nice space to enhance the overall experience.

      Keep up the good work Neal and hopefully your next location will be a little closer to where I live in the city.
      • Finally
        At last Indianapolis has a pizza place that serves something akin to actual pizza. If you like Dominos or, heaven forfend, Pizza Hut, stay far, far away from Pizzology. If you like good pizza - Serious Pie in Seattle, any number of places in NY - than you'll love this place.
      • Missing Goodfellas
        Tried Pizzology. To each his own, I guess, but we weren't impressed. Best of luck to the owners, but we miss Goodfellas.

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