Posted 7/1/2013 12:00 am
It opened just three weeks ago, but business at Damgoode Pies’ 180-seat franchise location in Rogers is smoking hot, says Jeff Trine, founder of the burgeoning pizza chain based in Little Rock.
“This Rogers store is insane,” he said. “It beat Cantrell and Fayetteville on its first Friday night combined. It beat them combined. It did more in its first week than all of Little Rock. We’re actually caught a little off guard.”
Damgoode has three locations in Little Rock — one of them on Cantrell — and a franchise site in Fayetteville that opened in 2009. The two northwest Arkansas franchises are owned by an investment group headed by Brendan Maxwell of Fayetteville. Trine founded Damgoode in Little Rock and is a partner in the franchise enterprise. Maxwell worked for Damgoode Pies in Little Rock, Trine said.
“We’re currently kind of reassessing our general strategy in Little Rock,” Trine said of his business, which opened its first location at 2701 Kavanaugh Blvd. in Hillcrest in 2001. The Arkansas Highway & Transportation Department is doing work along Cantrell Road, and Trine said it’s an opportune time to renovate both the exterior and interior of the store at 6706 Cantrell.
“We’re kind of taking a good look at where we’ve been and what we’re doing and trying to keep up with restaurant times. The foodie movement has done a lot for restaurants and expectations are higher. Couple that with online reviews and all that kind of stuff — you really just kind of have to stay on top of it. It’s time to re-evaluate and move forward.”
Asked whether customers are more demanding or more educated, Trine said: “Educated for sure. You look at what Scott McGehee is doing and it’s created a whole new level of restaurant,” Trine said, referring to the Little Rock restaurateur behind restaurants such as Boulevard Bread Co., ZaZa Fine Salad & Wood Oven Pizza Co., Big Orange and Local Lime.
“I think that Damgoode helped that come along back when it showed up in 2001,” Trine said. “We certainly feel like we’re a part of the whole foods movement. We try to stay away from preservatives and all that stuff as much as possible. We’re hoping to move ahead again and start getting into some seasonal offerings and stuff like that. We’re not cheap pizza and we need to make sure that the product that we’re selling is top-shelf stuff.”