Mike Bausch

Mike Bausch is the Owner of Andolini’s Pizzeria in Tulsa, Oklahoma. After graduating from Saint Mary’s College of California in 2004, Mike and his brother, Jim, started their pizzeria together. In its very first year, Andolini’s had to double its capacity due to demand in the Tulsa Metro area!

Today, Andolini’s Pizzeria has multiple popular locations and is known for its made-from-scratch pizza, craft beer, and customer-focused atmosphere.


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Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • Mike Bausch reveals how COVID-19 has impacted Andolini’s Pizzeria and what they are doing to stay afloat
  • Mike’s experience opening his pizzeria with his brother at age 22
  • Mike shares his favorite social media strategies and the secrets behind his successful systems
  • John and Mike talk about how the restaurant industry differs in Tulsa, Chicago, and other US cities

Resources Mentioned in this episode

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Episode Transcript

Prologue  0:03

This is the Always Direct Podcast and we talk with movers and shakers in this world to learn about the ups and downs they went through to get where they are now. Let’s get started with the show.

John Rayyan  0:17

My guest today on the Always Direct Podcast is Mike Bausch. Mike Bausch is a rock star in the restaurant industry. He’s a speaker, restaurateur, entrepreneur. He owns Andolini’s Pizzeria with his brother. He’s a pizza today journalist and pizza expert, pizza Expo expert and a regular speaker when they were having the expos which I don’t know how long it’s gonna be out for. And I’m really excited to have you on my podcast man.

Mike Bausch  0:43

Right on. Thank you so much for having me.

John Rayyan  0:44

Cool. Cool. Cool. So are you guys I mean, I watched a lot of YouTube videos I studied up on you a little bit as much as I could. And you guys have been open since May. If I’m not mistaken.

Mike Bausch  0:56

We our dine-in went back to being open. Since May we never close the pizzerias, we did curbside and switched, you know, on a dime to a curbside model in under a day. So, yeah, we there wasn’t a lot of talk that, hey, this is going to be a change. It just was a rumor that it took place. And a lot of people were struggling or scrambling, what are we going to do? How do we change? What do we add? We created a whole marketing strategy and implementation plan, which usually like a four to six week effort in 90 minutes.

John Rayyan  1:31

Yeah, yeah, I heard you talking to somebody was interviewing about that. And yeah, I mean, you got to move fast. I mean, I don’t know if anybody else is on his deck as quickly as you have to be honest with you. A lot of people are still struggling and it’s been five months over here by me, at least and that’s great. So did you have your own drivers are you only go through DoorDash

Mike Bausch  1:55

I’m only through DoorDash. Except for large caterings Sure. Each state laws are different in Oklahoma, we could deliver alcohol only if our drivers deliver it. So we can’t use DoorDash for alcohol, which would be your can. And I wish we could do that. But DoorDash is a third party having that level of abundance of drivers at the ready to see what sucks about drivers. If you have drivers in your pizzeria, you’re screwed no matter what you either have too much staff waiting to drive that you’re just burning labor, or you get real busy and all your staffs gone. Yeah. So it’s just screwed either way. So I like to use third party but you got to be really smart with how to use it.

John Rayyan  2:38

Yeah, yeah. I mean, a lot of times drivers come in, they’re unprofessional. Sometimes they are professional. I mean, it’s a whole mix of bag. Mixed Bag when you get them sometimes they come in with sandals and their hair is messy. And you’re like what are you what are you doing but are you delivering food? You can’t look like that. Am I correct?

Mike Bausch  2:53

Yeah, the there’s there’s a lot of ways to approach the driver program. If someone sucks Very easy to blacklist them. It’s very, very easy. You just have to do it. instead of complaining about it to them they don’t care if their actions. There’s not like you’re going to awaken them. It’s like okay, that person sucks. But but my goal is to make the Dasher definitely call them with DoorDash door Dasher, feel welcome and happy as that’s rare that a lot of restaurants are like, Hey, would you like a drink? So that way if someone is seeing a list of places to pick up from, I want them to be like, Oh, actually,

John Rayyan  3:32

yeah, they’re nice. They respect me over there. Yeah. Yeah, that’s great. That’s a great point. Um, so kind of a strange question because everybody’s kind of struggling right now a little bit. A lot of people are doing really good. A lot of people are struggling. A lot of people are in the middle of the road, in your restaurant because you have a lot of a lot of seats. You have a bunch of bar you have five restaurants. I mean, you have a gelato place. You have a food truck. How are you guys doing now? I mean, are you guys are you coasting by? Are you you know, struggling a little bit Are you guys actually visited before?

Mike Bausch  4:06

We’re not busy here we’re coasting. And there’s while some people are down 50% some guys are down 20% of that the SBA funds store the store is different. Our biggest most central located store had construction on the street. At the same time, fine dining, my lottery and my main store all were in the center of a heavy new nine month construction, which supersoft that just ended. So instead of a 30% down, it’s around 15% down. Now, if you counterbalance that the SBA is just paying the loans right now until October, that offsets it and it’s we’re in a good position. Good when that ends. It gets harder. PPP money helped us pay payroll, which we aggressively got as much that that we can healthfully. It’s smart. To get back to work as fast as possible, I did what the PPP was intended to be. And now it’s okay. What When will it work as our projections work? We’re good till January, January, if something doesn’t bend, whether it’s more testing more a vaccine that people believe in, or just something that bends that not that people go out to eat, but people don’t feel that they are being irresponsible and going out to eat at restaurants. And people in general, want to go out if a concert can’t exist in January. I think we’re in a good spot that doesn’t occur, it’s going to need more for the restaurant industry as a whole was going to need more funding.

John Rayyan  5:44

What did you say if somebody doesn’t have an agenda? Would you say in January,

Mike Bausch  5:48

most, most projection for most restaurants I talked to including mine, everyone’s kind of like either they’re coasting on the PPP or they’re a little up of the or if they’re really down. Everything’s kind of like Alright, we’ll be okay. Then January, all everyone goes out to eat in December, and then come January. It’s always a drop off anyway, you drop off with no PPP, no SBA funding, and a pandemic on top of it. Even the most insulated of cities and towns are not going to be able to survive that easily.

John Rayyan  6:20

Yeah, yeah, definitely. That’s a major concern out here. Not not just in general January cuz everybody’s paying the bills from the Christmas season. It definitely slows down. But what’s really concerning for the Midwest and anywhere that has a solid winter is that what are we going to do right now everybody’s eating outside and they have like, 25% capacity on the inside. But what are we going to do in two months? Nobody’s gonna want to sit outside when it’s freezing out there. So I don’t know how they’re gonna handle that. It’s gonna be very interesting to see how this all plays out. It’s so sad though. It’s very sad. But I mean, hopefully I listen to Maybe a weed out some of the weak ones and creates more profitability for the strong ones. I don’t know.

Mike Bausch  7:05

Yeah, I mean yeah, there’s if I was looking for a positive the positive is is that I think everyone learns how to be a better restaurant tour. Yeah, the there’s there’s weak because you just are crappy pirate restaurant they call pirate restaurants in restaurants where people pay everyone under a table and they’re hitting on the hostess and stuff like that. Yeah, they maybe they die. But what I’m afraid of is the guy in year two, year three just getting his foot feeding his footing can’t survive it because I wouldn’t have been able to survive in 2008 no way 2020 Okay, I’m better setup I am getting funding. I have a bookkeeper I have accounts I have my my taxes organized and digitally available. 25 year old me no way to hell would have had that.

John Rayyan  7:55

Yeah, for sure. For sure. Yeah, I you know, restaurant business. You know, I want to ask you, I want to dive into your How did you so you you’ve grown. You were in with one restaurant for six years. So you really just like, hunkered down, fixed it up focused on that. And then from there, it started popping out the next four pretty quickly. It seems like I am mistaken if I’m wrong, but it took six years to get to the second one. But then after that, it was much faster

Mike Bausch  8:23

on the and I probably want it I was ready for it. Three to four years. No one wanted to take a gamble loss. I didn’t want an investor. I couldn’t even get going to a property and say, Hey, I think I’d like this property. They would mess with me because I was young. I have one guy who was like, Well, let me see your 3d renderings of what your concept would look like here. Like 3d renderings. Okay, and my dumb ass goes and buys. It doesn’t take a paycheck for two months to get you know, 3000 bucks worth of 3d renderings are like that. They weren’t going with a chain that immediately failed and then added another thing there that immediately failed. And now they’re on their fourth concept. And at that same building a different district that I’m not in. I took over a building that was a Farmers Insurance building, fully retrofitted, and a bank, my main bank said no, another banks said, Hey, all this paperwork, show us all this. I did it all. And then the banks do what’s called going to committee where you can do everything they asked and have all the proper things, which if you were buying a house, you would have gotten the house 20 times over, but they go to committee and they’re like, do we want to loan to a restaurant and two of the banks that I had done business with, for years up to that point just said, No, what’s a Third Bank who saw that I was competing in Italy had all this press behind us. They have the restaurant multiple times and said, We believe in this and and took a gamble on us and they have been paid quite handsomely in interest over the last 10 years as a result of that, so I call that away.

John Rayyan  10:04

Yeah, I’m a big believer you got to bet on the jockey. You know if you got the right jockey, if you got the guy the right guy doesn’t matter what to do, they’re gonna figure out a way and from what I’ve learned about you the last week as I’ve been researching you through the internet, is that your Tiger Man, you got the energy of a tiger seems like well, from the videos I can tell from the interviews, you know, you’ve done so much you you know, traveling to Rome going to Italy learning different recipes. Opening five Demarest five restaurants, food truck, gelato place and your your food is amazing. I mean, you have did I see right balls, by the way? All the time. You have rice balls on your menu? Yeah, they’re cheating. Yes. Oh, man. I used to get those from my Sicilian neighbor back in when I was growing up around 1314 years old. And I have I haven’t had them in a very long time and I saw them on your website, and I added my mouth was salivating. So now now you have the restaurant. How do you handle. I mean, first of all you when you got the first restaurant Have you had any experience before that? were you working in restaurants? Where is your family in the business?

Mike Bausch  11:07

Uh, not me. Yes. No. Would you say Did you always want to open a pizzeria? I’m like, or did you always love pizza? Of course I was lucky. I never was pizza. If you don’t love pizza, you’re a garbage individualisation doesn’t roll you up like carpet sushi go up and kill you. But when it comes to a My story is so a quick deep dive of my story is I work a pizza place and a by dining restaurant while in college stuff to pay for college. Go to St. Mary’s College California. My brother got transferred from Florida to Tulsa right when I was getting out of out of college I was accepted to law school about to go to law. So I go on my first day, and I was like, I don’t really want to do this. I was going to go to law school as a jag Royer because I had gone through Marine Corps OCS and was on my path to doing Jaguar but I had been diagnosed Type One juvenile diabetes not to the insulin dependent type, so I could not go back to the record. So now I don’t have the Marine Corps to pay for us. I’m like, What am I going to do? I don’t know if I want to be a lawyer, I probably should a transfer from Fort Lauderdale to Tulsa. Because they there’s so many tax incentives in 2004 here that they moved their base of operations and he said, I’m getting a bonus. Ooh, there. You just want to like, do something with this bonus. I really give a shit just come with a family business. You can run it however you want. And I just wanted to get out of California and came and I went once like Tulsa. I don’t know Tulsa Tacoma Tucson. Which one is it? No, it’s the one in Oklahoma. I go there and I just fell in love with the town immediately saw a line of people a lie waiting to go into a church on a Wednesday night. Before Verizon, Honeywell, Alamo National rentacar all of those big mammoth jammers moved the two North Tulsa in a town near a town called a wasp so 10 to 15,000 people descend on one town most of them like Chicago, Fort Lauderdale, and I thought it was just shooting fish in a barrel open a restaurant and my dumb ass 22 year old mind just nothing but anger and spite in my heart was able to open a restaurant with very little culinary ability, no marketing degree poly side degree and just jumped in and said I’m a sponge let’s do this and work seven days a week, non stop 365 making do at 7am going home around 11pm and just grinded it out till I could learn everything I could learn and made a lot of errors. Learn from those errors. It just kept learning and kept learning and wanted to see what I could do more and get better not just the food side the food side of the price adventure that you just have. That’s the fun part when people aren’t you love learning recipes having Eric cheat me out of it. I saw Aaron cine, I was like, that’s cool as hell. I’ve always said, if we can sell it, I’m not going to talk down to the customer. We’re going to do something I’m stoked about. I love Aaron Genie. I would give a shout out at the pizzeria. We can sell that. Yes. And then it’s not like it’s hard to make. When people how could you possibly do it? Why would you not buy it frozen? It’s cheaper if I buy it and make it and I trust them. I have a good system. No matter who you are a 17 year old, 25 year old culinary student, or, you know, a kid who’s playing baseball in high school. You can learn how to do this right? If I teach you the right way, built that and just learned all my lesson for six years of pain and agile and by the time I went to charity, we were shooting fish in a barrel. It was easy. It was easy. We went to the center of Tulsa after coming out of this suburb in a wasco in North Tulsa.

John Rayyan  14:49

Yeah. So the second location you said the first location was the learning the second location you hit. You hit jackpot to hurt. I mean, that’s what I heard in your videos. You said it was it was gangbusters.

Mike Bausch  15:00

Just a line out the door. And it was Well, at first I didn’t know what to make of it because we would have a lot of people that would come see us and also but it was families a lot. So it was a summer. It’s 20 minutes north of Tulsa. There’s a lot of people in Tulsa, I think, oh, I don’t know, a pizza place. I think you’d like it. Like, where is it? A lot. So I’m never going there. It’s so crazy how, because coming from California, I had to go 20 minutes to go to a convenience store. Yeah. But in Tulsa people are very, it’s very, I’m used to my little areas, like getting someone in Manhattan to go to, you know, Yonkers. Sure, sure. Sure. So, that’s what happened after that.

John Rayyan  15:43

Oh, that’s great, man. I mean, you know, a lot of times people open up a second location and it’s never as good as the first one. You got real lucky and I made a good decision. good strategy, and it turned out to be amazing. So that’s that’s good music, because that’s second location. A lot of times people get ruined by that. Now you obviously but a lot of who they think It starts eating good money you put good money after bad you can’t you know, you don’t know what’s going on. And now suddenly you ruin both restaurants. I’ve heard a lot of stories about that in the restaurant business. I want to talk to you a little bit about this amazing concept. Do you ever hear Metropolis regional street food, man? I freaking love the idea. I mean, you got to Italian beef, you guys Chicago style hotdogs New York City food, Pittsburgh, Boston, Philly. How is it doing?

Mike Bausch  16:25

Well, it’s our it’s the one thing that’s at the food court. We have a lot of food courts, a food Hall. It’s really out scale food Hall in Tulsa. It’s a great concept. It does very well. It’s very profitable right now. They move to purely curbside. And a food haul doing purely curbside is like picking up sunglasses from the mall at sunglass site outside of the mall. You just need to go in the mall. That’s the deal out of foodhall. So it’s post its offline right now. They’re about to initiate it, open it back up and we’ll be back online which I look forward to. I dig the hell out of the concept. I love all these things. They’re all rooted in Italian cookie. Now it’s from Little Italy of Philly or little, you know, in Little Italy of, of New York getting a sad rap or getting a Chicago dog at Wrigley, whatever it was, I just love all these things I grew up around all of them being I grew up in New Jersey, I live in Chicago, I’ve got my brothers that a lot in Chicago, going in Florida to just coming from a Marine Corps family seeing all the food across America. I just wanted to have an all in one concept.

John Rayyan  17:31

I love it. I mean, I really think it’s a I think this is a big idea. This concept right here. I think it’s a very big idea. I think it’s a very scalable franchisable model if you ever wanted it because I just I mean, obviously I’ve never been there, but the idea for me is very sexy. I just think that that’s if I heard somebody open a place like this around me I’m like, Oh shit, let’s go check it out right away

Mike Bausch  17:53

in the the whim and the curse of that concept. Being very straight on it is yeah. To people have been on Philly Philly Tuesday. Yeah it was like no no no if you don’t chop it it’s bullshit or if you don’t if you know where’s like hey go to Philly, they do it 25 different ways I chose my favorite of those 25 but it’s like it’s almost a roll it’s got its it’s sliced in the right state. And then you know whiz but also provolone. We chopped but something but I like it. I like it like chunks out of it. I like it like that. And it sounds like this is this thing’s basketball. Screw you. You got one she’s taking your whole life in Philly. And with that, you’ve never actually been in Philly. I can tell by that. It’s

John Rayyan  18:38

so so so I flew to Philly one time and I don’t remember the names of the places the ones that are right across from each other the the two main ones, I think they’re right across from each other kitty corner and there’s lines around the block. I went to both on the same day and ate both of them. I don’t remember which one I liked, but I like them both. I love them. So however way they make is that how you make it

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