2-Minute Tuesday – Three Guys Pizza Pies

Welcome to another installment of Tour Collierville’s 2-Minute Tuesday! This week, Keith sits down with Dave Pippin, owner of Three Guys Pizza Pies, to talk about pizza, family, and Collierville.

Watch the video here, or read the transcript below.

Three Guys Pizza Pies Video Transcript

Keith: Hey, this is Keith with Tour Collierville, and I’m here with Dave Pippin today for our 2-Minute Tuesday.  Dave is the owner of Three Guys Pizza Pies.  Dave, welcome.

Dave: Thank you.  I appreciate you having me.

KE: Absolutely.  Glad you could make it.  So, I think I’ll start off—most of the time, we start off—with just a little bit of history about you and how you got into the pizza business.

DP: Sure.  You know, I actually got in the pizza business accidentally.  I started with Chuck E. Cheese’s as an electronics technician after I got out of the Marine corps, working on the games, the show, pizza equipment and things like that.  I enjoyed it.  I enjoyed the business and the environment.  I eventually moved over into the operations side and stayed with Chuck E. Cheese for about 25 years.

KE: Wow.  Was that here?  Were you based here in the Memphis area?

DP: When I left, I was living in Memphis and running all the stores in West Tennessee, Louisiana, Arkansas, Kentucky…  I had quite an area I was travelling around.

KE: That had to be interesting, Chuck E. Cheese for that many years.  Is that…

DP: Yes.  (both laugh) Lot of growth.  And you know, I worked around a lot of great people with high standards. They taught me the importance of standards and working with good people and things like that.  It was a great experience.  It prepared me, I feel like.

KE: Yeah.  So you learned a lot about the experience there.  When did you think about starting your own and going out?  When did that come about.

DP: You know, probably eight or ten years ago.  I’ve always been interested in owning my own business.  I consider myself an entrepreneur at heart—but yet to break out.  I just started thinking about, you know, can we open up a business in an old school manner like a grandma/grandpa would do, take care of the employees, have a great product, and have a competitive price and compete with large companies, national companies, and things like that?  And the name actually came from a couple of my mentors and peers at Chuck E. Cheese.  We brainstormed the idea.

KE: So they kind of knew that you were going to step out while you were there?

DP: These two guys did.  And, you know, that wouldn’t have been something that would have been… welcomed, I should say.

KE: Yeah, sure.  Nobody wants a competitor.

DP: But we all kinda had the same thing.  We had a lot of people that worked for us for a long time.  Some of our managers and employees had been with us for 20+ years.  And we were seeing things change with health insurance and other benefits and things like that.  And you know, just, we didn’t feel good about the environment and the way we were taking care of people.  So that kind of led to: Well, what can we do?  And then that’s how Three Guys came about.

KE:  So you were saying that you had kind of a brainstorm with a couple other guys on the name?

DP: Absolutely, yeah.

KE: So how did it…  What—How did you guys settle on Three Guys?  What did that…  Just because of the two other guys?  There was three of you?

DP: It was a— We started with Three Guys Pizza Pies.  And that was the name, that’s where our trademark is.  And we just like the way it flowed.  It wasn’t too trendy.  It was just a simple deal: Three Guys Pizza Pies.

KE: So those other two guys, are they part of the business?

DP: One of them is.  We’ve got a restaurant in Virginia, and that’s a licensed unit.  And the other one, he is still with Chuck E. Cheese.  And you know, who knows what the future holds?

KE: Yeah, no.  I got you.  Absolutely.  So, what is the—a little bit about your product, about the pizza—is it a certain style?  Like Chicago style or New York or whatever?

DP: Yeah.  Our pizza is a thinner crust product.  It’s going to be likened a bit more to a New York style pizza.  You know, what we do now is nothing like what we had done, like we thought we were going to be doing originally.  I mean, we had to evolve and change with the business.  We make our own dough every day.  We grate our own cheese in each location, every morning.  Grated cheese tastes better than shredded cheese that comes in in a package.  We don’t really buy a lot of pizza toppings—we buy commodity level products.  Rather than buying a beef topping, we just buy beef, and we cook it in our locations.  And we do that with all the products we can do that with.  And it makes for a great product, and when you buy commodity level, your products are cheaper.  They’ve been handled less.  And it’s just better.

KE: So you’re doing a lot of the preparation.  Things aren’t coming in…  You’re not just opening packages and putting it on some dough.

DP: No.

KE: You’re doing it all kind of hand made yourself?

DP: The pizza you’re eating today, we made that dough yesterday morning.  It’s going to rise in the walk-in overnight, and it’s going to give us a very specific result.  Every part of the pizza, we’ve looked at.  How do we make it better?  How do we get a fresher product?  Or whatever we need to do.

KE: That’s awesome.  I know just from eating there myself that the pizza is great, but also, I really like the sandwiches.  I’m a fan of the Big Guy.  So you guys do more than pizza, too?

DP: Oh yeah.  Our sandwiches, we have them—and we have great sandwiches—we use a bun that we actually bake off when you order it.  So you’re getting a sandwich bun that is crispy on the outside, it’s light and airy in the middle.  It’s hot, and who doesn’t like fresh bread?  It’s great.

KE; I like it.  Sometimes, I like it too much.

DP: Exactly, yes.  We all do.  But we also do chicken wings.  They’re fresh, never frozen wings.  You know, sometimes that’s hard.  We only have so many days.  But it’s a great product.  There’s no substitute for that freshness and that level of quality.

KE: Absolutely.  I know that we made a post, I think about Three Guys, on the Tour Collierville Facebook page, and one of the comments that we got was: “Believe it or not, these guys have the best fries in Collierville.”  So I was surprised by that, but…

DP: You know, our french fries, everybody’s got them in one form or another, but you know we like to put our special touch on them.  We use what we call Fry Dust.  And we just dust them with a few spices.  It makes them a little more special, I guess.

KE: Oh, they’re good.  No doubt.  So, you’ve got the location here in Collierville.  How did that come about?  Because I know you have other locations.  How did you choose Collierville?

DP: Well, you know, I actually chose Collierville first.  It was going to be my first location.  Exactly where I’m at right now.  And that was eight, nine years ago.  We just couldn’t get a deal worked out on it.  So you know, I spent six, seven years looking at that location and waiting for the right scenario to come up.  Fortunately, a couple of years ago, the gentleman that was operating it called and asked if I’d be interested in the space and equipment and stuff.  I was very interested, excited about coming to Collierville.  And we made that happen.

KE: That’s awesome.  And the location for yours is over by Academy, is that it?

DP: Yes, that’s it.  Right next door to Academy at the corner of Byhalia and Poplar.

KE: Gotcha.  So you made the commitment to come to Collierville.  Are you… Was it a good decision?  How’s business?

DP: Business is good.  It definitely was a good decision.  Still a lot of upside left.  Collierville’s very competitive.  We recognize that.  And, you know, we work hard to make sure everyone is walking out happy and full, feeling good about coming back.

KE: Absolutely.  So you’re kind of in it for the long run here?

DP: Oh absolutely.  Absolutely.  We’re going to be around.

KE: Gotcha.  Well that’s good.  We’re glad to have you, and I certainly enjoy it.  As you have the… I’ll give you the mic.  Is there anything to talk, to say to Collierville?  Or anything else you want to say about your restaurant?

DP: You know, I would say that Three Guys is a very family friendly environment.  We don’t deliver pizza.  We think pizza’s best eaten right out of the oven.  We offer free video games for the kids to play while you’re waiting.  You know, if your kids want to play on the floor or, you know, draw on the table, whatever—we’re okay with that.  It’s a casual environment.  If you’re a beer drinker, we have great deals on beer.  If you’re not, that’s no problem; we have iced tea and soft drinks as well.

KE: Yeah, I know I’ve seen just from going in there that it looks like people are coming in for a sporting event and their kids are there and things like that.

DP: Right.  It’s… You know, again: I spent 25 years with Chuck E. Cheese. So I am all about the family.  And mom and dad need to be able to come in and sit down and order food and relax and not worry about if their kid is singing loud or laughing or, you know, standing on the seats or something like that.  It’s all… We’re all about…

KE: That’s just part of it.

DP: That’s it.  That’s it.  You know, I mean, if you’ve got kids, then you know.  And we’ve all got kids.

KE: Yeah, absolutely.  I think so.  Well, man, I appreciate it.  Thanks for coming in.

DP: Oh, thanks for having me.