Live and Let Pie w/ Thom and James Elliot of Pizza Pilgrims

Pizza Pilgrims founders Tom and James Elliot share their inspiring journey from a 6-week Italian pizza road trip to growing a 25-store pizza restaurant chain in London. They discuss key lessons on empowering people, maintaining quality while scaling, adapting to change, and managing partnership dynamics. Through organic growth and a focus on culture, the brothers have built an etremely successful pizza brand.

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Here are 5 episode highlights that summarize the key points from the podcast transcript:

  • Origin Story: Tom and James Elliot, founders of Pizza Pilgrims, started their pizza journey by taking a 6-week trip through Italy in a small Tuk Tuk vehicle. Inspired by the Neapolitan pizza they tasted, they returned to London, modded their Tuk Tuk with a pizza oven, and began doing pop-up events and street food, eventually growing to 25 stores.

  • Importance of People: The Elliot brothers emphasize that people are the most important aspect of running healthy restaurants. As they’ve scaled, they’ve learned to empower their general managers to fully run their restaurants like their own businesses. Hiring the right team members and creating a positive, learning-focused culture is crucial to their success.

  • Adapting and Pivoting: During the COVID-19 pandemic, Pizza Pilgrims quickly pivoted to selling pizza kits for delivery. This new offering helped save their business during lockdowns. The brothers stress the importance of staying flexible, saying yes to new opportunities, and being willing to change plans based on market response.

  • Partnership Dynamics: As brothers and business partners, Tom and James have a unique working relationship. They have complementary skill sets, with Tom being more analytical and James more entrepreneurial. Bringing in additional leadership team members has helped them make better decisions as the company has grown.

  • Controlled Growth: While Pizza Pilgrims has expanded to 25 locations, the founders never set out with that goal. Growth has been organic, driven by the need to provide opportunities for their great people. They’ve taken on external investment to fund new locations, but are very focused on choosing the right sites, maintaining quality, and preserving their culture as they scale.

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