The story of Pizza Pilgrims

01/06/2016 10:53:09

We interviewed Thom from Pizza Pilgrims to find out how they built their brand to be a such great success...

Pizza Pilgrims started life in 2011, after driving a three wheeled Piaggio Ape back from Italy on a 6 week “Pizza Pilgrimage” of discovery. Once home, we installed a Neapolitan pizza oven and sold our first pizza on Berwick St Market. Since then, we have traded at a huge variety of events across the country, and opened four little pizzerias in London (so we can make pizza in the rain). Our latest pizzeria opened on Garrick St in Covent Garden in May 2016. We are only interested in making the best quality pizza possible - with handmade, 48 hr proved dough and ingredients shipped in from Naples. The pizza is accompanied by Italian wines & craft beers - as well as foosball, arcade machines and tunes you have not heard in a while.

What are your top tips for building a successful brand?

I guess from our point of view – it was really important to build a business that made sense to us – and not feel like you needed to be similar to everyone/anyone else. If you are focused on your competitors and how they do things, it is a shame as it is your business to build in your way. Obviously, it is important to make sure you are staying aware of things that are not working out (we had one or two particularly “out there” ideas that were best in the bin) and taking advice where necessary – but it is more important that whatever you are creating is how you want it to.

Salcicce and Friarielli Pizza

How are branding and marketing linked?

I think your brand is so much more than just marketing. It is everything that you stand for in the company. You brand should be an encapsulation of what you are trying to achieve, how you behave in certain situations as a company and also how you interact with customers, team members and even other companies. Marketing is just one small facet of your brand (albeit one of the most visible as this is how the majority of people will see you behaving as a brand).

Why is creating a brand important?

People like to identify with the things that they are buying, whether that be bath soap, cars, or pizzas. Having a brand allows people not only to help remember a great experience or product, but also allows to bring an indication of what separates your product from the other ones out there from a personality and identity point of view, as well as purely the product itself.

James spinning Pizza

Which other brands do you admire or inspire you?

Focusing on restaurants – we really love Byron, who have always done a great job of keeping it simple, doing what they do really well and also having fun with their brand. I particularly love how every place has its own unique design and feel – a great example of how a brand is much much more than just a logo and look and feel.

What were your influences around brand development?

We were obviously influenced by the great brands that already existed (Byron as above, Hawksmoor, Wahaca) but not coming from a hospitality background, we were really able to approach a number of things about the brands in a completely novel way. I think this was really key to coming up with something that we feel is interesting and unique.


Did you / do you take food or hospitality trends into account, if so, what?

Not really no. We found ourselves in the middle of a bit of a movement with streetfood, but that was really more by accident than design.

What is unique about your brand?

We want to celebrate two things really – pizza and people. That means never scrimping on any pizza ingredients ever, and making sure the awesome people who make the pizzerias what they are able to be themselves. I think this helps bring a nice “house party” atmosphere to the pizzerias which is exactly what we are looking for.

What are the future plans for Pizza Pilgrims?

To be honest – we are just enjoying the ride at the moment. We have ambition for the company – but we are not looking to run before we can walk. As long as we are enjoying it, the pizzas are still tasting good and the team still enjoy working for us, we will keep on trucking.

Polaroids 1

Thom Elliot, Co-Founder

Pizza Pilgrims 

Photo credits: Myles New

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