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From the Dough Up



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March 14th, 2013



A Note From Owner, Dimitri Syrkin-Nikolau on Expanding:

Wow. It's been five whole years that we've been in Chicago.  I can not even begin to imagine how many Mac N' Cheese slices we've sold to Cubs fans, foodies, TBOX fanatics, Fourth of July revelers, neighbors and fun mumbling-and-bumbling-home-and-in-bed-by-10pm seekers.  Well actually that's not true.  I could probably calculate with startling accuracy exactly how many slices we've sold, but I digress. Let me get to the point.

It's been a sprint inside of a marathon for the past year, and it's about to pick up pace.

Just over a year ago, I paused to look back at the company we'd created thus far, to examine how well our actions reflected what we stood for. We'd always had a core belief system and a set of values that were shaped by what we intrinsically believed. But with a new name and a new promise to uphold, the theory needed to match the reality closer than ever.

I went back to the start and asked, "Why do we exist?" and "What is our purpose?"  I decided, very simply that it must be our mission to create a business to serve as an example of how to do business better to help breathe life into small business entrepreneurship. The American Dream is in the need of a kick in the pants. Specifically, we'd call ourselves successful when we did good by the people who work here and the planet we live on, all while turning a profit. We seek the creation of "purposeful profit." It's a challenge, but I think, if you tell people what your dream is and they laugh at you, you aren't dreaming big enough.  And in all honestly, if we're an example to even a minuscule fraction of a percent of the people in Lakeview, I'd be ecstatic. But as the popular anecdote says, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.  And so it goes...

First we started with education. We brought a 2nd grade class in to teach them the value of hard work.  When the CPS strike took place, we reached out and gave free pizza to locations that were taking kids that had no way to feed them.  We cultivated a garden at our small lake view office to supplement the ingredients we ordered on a regular basis. We got health insurance and 401k with a match for our employees.  We collaborated with local designers, pottery throwers, artists, writers, printers, and bike makers to form long lasting relationships to build something that was truly Chicago.


And that was great.  We had hope and were on the right track. But we were not yet finished.  We loved our business and what it stood for, but we recognized two things very quickly. First, others might want to partake, and second, to really make a difference, we needed to be in more places than just Chicago. So first, we found a fantastic group of people who understood our example and wanted to be a part of the movement. So together in Boulder, CO we helped build and launch a sister company called Boss Lady Pizza. You might ask, why not another Dimo's? While Dimo's serves as an example, beyond that, we're interested in driving entrepreneurship. Forcing our name and our rules onto someone else ultimately stifles creativity and ingenuity and that's the opposite of what we're aiming to do. What we're doing is bigger than pizza.  It was a proud moment for us to see the life that a new small business breathes into a new city.

While that helps the business community and it helps Boulder, CO, it doesn't have much impact on Chicago? Well actions speak louder than words. So we thought we'd  prove the purposeful profit model is not only sustainable but is a model for growth, and actually grow.  We decided to make something new, and not just a replica, something in a new neighborhood that was designed entirely from the ground up.  Something different and the same in all the best ways. And we decided to do that at the collision of Wicker Park and Bucktown.  Wicker Park was a neighborhood started by Charles and Joel Wicker under the premise that it would be a community where people of varying economic backgrounds could afford to live and work.  Pizza isn't meant to be pretentious. It's the food of the people and we couldn't agree more with the Wicker Brother's goal.

Today the intersection of Milwaukee/North/Damen is an area that has been and continues to go through massive change.  Small businesses have been on the decline in the area and we want to retain that entrepreneurial spirit that creates such a diverse and interesting neighborhood. There are still glimmers of hope, but the business landscape is drastically different today than it was 5 years ago. We're not upset and we're not complaining. We are doing something to turn this around it. We're moving in to keep that essence alive. We like to make our own rules. I mean hell, we take something as sacred as the Chicago Hot Dog and put it on pizza.  Let's keep Wicker weird.


So we decided to put our time and resources into a new small business that will carry craft beer, expand our product to include a farmers market fresh salad bar, source 50% of our produce from local farms, bring Chicago students in for field trips once a month, grow a garden on our rooftop, maintain an outdoor "People Spot," collaborate with all the local shops in the areas, in short, do everything we can to make the greatest possible experience for all who pass through our doors and walk through our neighborhood.  We're here for you, now and always. We promise to be your beacon of hope, a light in dark places when all other lights have gone out.


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