Pizzarico’s, a small pizza place on Third Avenue and Dominion Street downtown, has proven to be quite the unique restaurant and has become a popular place for UNBC students to hang out. The small business has become so successful that the Chamber of Commerce placed it in the top three retailers last year.
Rick Lafleur, who owns the business with his wife Margaret, said that this recent success is the result of a couple years of hard work and experimentation, both in the development of the menu and in the events the restaurant is a venue for. It is in these two areas that Lafleur said that his restaurant beats out the larger franchise stores.
Every Thursday night from 8:30-11 p.m. Scott Dunbar and The Family, a local rock group with blues and folk influences, takes the stage at the front of the store.
“We typically fill the house. It’s quite the pleasant party scene,” Lafleur said.
Last weekend, for example, 42 seats were filled in the small venue. Sharing the venue on Thursday nights are typically other local musicians of various musical influences.
“You could see any one of 25 to 30 very talented people,” Lafleur said.
Friday nights also see live shows, on an interim basis. Low-key shows are hosted on Saturdays from around 1-2 p.m.
Pizzarico’s also hosts movie nights every Tuesday beginning at 7:30 p.m. Attendance is free, and movies are projected on the back wall of the store.
“We’ll be looking for a lot of input,” Lafleur said.
With regards to the actual food Pizzarico’s sells, Lafleur said that “the thing about the franchise stores is that you know exactly what they’ll sell you.”
He added that after a couple years of experimenting with different menu items, they’ve settled on focusing on pizza and salad.
“We decided to not be all things to all people, but be the best at good pizza,” Lafleur said, adding that this is in keeping with the franchise model of small, specialized menus.
What makes Pizzarico’s different is the attention to small details.
They import several items for their pizzas, including Roma tomato sauce, oregano from Greece, as well as using premium unbleached hard flour and olive oil in the dough, in keeping with the store’s no trans fats rule.
In addition to their several styles of pizza and organic and classic Greek salads, Pizzarico’s has recently added nachos to their menu. In these nachos Lafleur said that they use nothing but premium aged cheddar and mozzarella cheeses, as well as organic corn chips.
Another thing Lafleur prides himself in is Pizzarico’s health report, which has been getting better and better, with absolutely no violations in the latest report.
He urges people to check out the health reports from various restaurants they attend in order to assess how healthy a place they are eating at.
They are available at www.healthspace.ca/nha.
Lafleur credits the success of Pizzarico’s to his wife Margaret who helps manage the business, Scott Dunbar and Randy Dakota who help organize the live shows, Barbara Sholz, who has been organizing art displays in the building, Dave Rogers, whom Lafleur credits as being a great cook, as well as the hosts and hostesses and various others who have helped the business grow and improve.