Q 1. Kindly give our readers an introduction to your business. Please include what your business is all about, in which city you are located and if you have offices in multiple locations/ cities.

Ans: Who needs another pizza and beer restaurant? That’s the question we posed to ourselves in creating Regents Pizzeria. We saw an unfilled niche to “make people happy by providing the ultimate American craft pizza and beer experience.” We serve the highest quality, authentic NY and Chicago style pizzas by the whole pie and the slice along with a full Italian style menu. Growing up in the “Craft Capital of San Diego,” gave us an appreciation of craft beer. So, we paired 32 taps of constantly rotating local craft beers with our pizza in a 150-seat restaurant, designed by George Kelly, a preeminent Restaurant designer and architect. It was a hit. We have become one of the 10 busiest independent pizzerias in the U.S.

Q 2. Kindly give us a brief description about yourself (it should include your brief educational or entrepreneurial background and list some of your major achievements).

Ans:◦ I earned an undergraduate degree in Molecular Biology from UCSD and went on to study at the Cornell School of Hotel Administration, receiving a Master’s degree in 1978.
◦ Soon after, I joined Taco Bell’s finance department and held several positions in various departments, including Zone Director of Operations in the South Central U.S., supervising 350 company operated restaurants.
◦ Later, I spent close to 15 years leading restaurant company turnarounds, working for several venture backed restaurant chains that had gotten into trouble.
◦ In 2008 I joined Chef Steven Carson, a longtime friend and business associate in his entrepreneurial venture in the first Regents Pizzeria, a small, low volume pizzeria in La Jolla.
◦ Sadly, Steven died in 2011 and I purchased the majority interest in the company. In 2014 we moved the busines to an end cap location in the same medical building with the new, large Regents Pizzeria concept

Q 3. What inspired you to (start a new business venture) or (to make significant changes in an existing business)? How did the idea for your business come about?

Ans: ◦ Our success of increasing the business of the small 1,100 square foot Regents Pizzeria taking the sales up five fold gave me the confidence to expand the concept to the larger space and pair with it with a 32 taps craft beer bar.
◦ We have striven to become an authority in American craft pizza and beer. Our food ingredients are the highest quality available and our always changing beer selection is served by Cicerone certified beer tenders.

Q 4. What three pieces of advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?

Ans: ◦ If you don’t fail, you’re not trying hard enough. Take risks.
◦ Follow your intuition as long as it is backed up with true expertise in your chosen field of endeavor.
◦ Listen to your customers, staff, and constantly survey your industry for best practices. Take the great ideas of others and improve on them.

Q 5. What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?

Ans: ◦ Willingness to take a risk and fail.
◦ Never, ever give up. Setbacks are an opportunity for creative new solutions. Persevere in the face of all adversity.
◦ Be optimistic, planful and thorough in your thinking.

Q 6. How many hours do you work a day on average?

Ans: 10

Q 7. To what do you most attribute your success?

Ans: A drive to create the best product possible, constantly improving and persevering.

Q 8. How do you go about marketing your business? What has been your most successful form of marketing?

Ans: ◦ For the entire life of our business, the most impactful marketing has been word of mouth. We spend our money on the highest quality ingredients, thorough training, detailed process documentation and higher than industry standard supervision expenditure.
◦ In the last 2 years, we have begun to invest heavily in social media marketing which is managed by an outside firm.

Q 9. Where did your organizations funding/capital come from and how did you go about getting it? How did you obtain investors for your venture?

Ans: Our business has been predominately financed by our own personal investment. About 15% of the capital investment came in the form of equipment leases.

Q 10. What is the best way to achieve long-term success?

Ans: ◦ Always listen to your Team, Customers and observe the success of your competitors.
◦ Constantly innovate. If you get close to the goal posts, move them.

Q 11. Where you see yourself and your business in 5 – 10 years?

Ans: ◦ We hope to grow our business in a smaller footprint version via license agreements.
◦ Our success has given us the confidence that we can be at the very least a strong regional player.

Q 12. Excluding yours, what company or business do you admire the most?

Ans: Texas Roadhouse. By every measure, they lead the industry in their niche of the casual dining segment.

Q 13. How important have good employees been to your success?

Ans: They are vital. Even more important is to create a strong empowering culture in which they thrive and enjoy giving the best of themselves.

Q 14. How long do you stick with an idea before giving up?

Ans:◦ The short answer is to never give up. However, at the end of its evolution, that idea may be significantly different from it’s starting point.
◦ Take the idea to market. The marketplace will tell you what to do with it next.

Q 15. What motivates you?

Ans: For me, motivation comes from within. Simply speaking it’s the desired to create happiness for our Guests and Team. Additionally, it’s the passion to be the best at what we do.

Q 16. What are your ideals?

Ans: Well, we capture those in our Purpose and Values statement that can be found on our website here: https://www.regentspizza.com/about/

Q 17. How do you generate new ideas?

Ans: They come from everywhere. I try to be as tuned in as possible to all segments of restaurant industry trends. Some ideas come from our Guests, others from customers and vendors. The best are those that come from collaboration.

Q 18. How do you define success?

Ans: Achieving those things outlined our Purpose and Values along with meeting our financial targets.

Q 19. How do you build a successful customer base?

Ans: Most certainly it’s through those things that drive customer satisfaction, visit frequency and word of mouth advertising.

Q 20. What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?

Ans: I get to choose all my objectives and see them through to completion, win or lose.

Q 21. What has been your most satisfying moment in business?

Ans: For me there is no single most satisfying moment. The most satisfying moments are when we can please both our Guests and Team Members at the same time.

Q 22. What do you feel is the major difference between entrepreneurs and those who work for someone else?

Ans: The willingness to take calculated risks and follow your passion.

Q 23. What kind of culture exists in your organization? How did you establish this tone and why did you institute this particular type of culture?

Ans: Our culture is defined by our values that are included in the website reference above. https://www.regentspizza.com/about/ Our aspiration has been to be regarded by our staff as the best restaurant company to work for in San Diego. Some years ago, we decided to write down the values of our company with the help of our Team. They are included in our selection, training, performance review and grievance processes.

Q 24. In one word, characterize your life as an entrepreneur.

Ans: Fun.

Q 25. If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?

Ans: Boy, that’s a tough one. Often, I wonder what would have happened if I took this or that alternative path in my career. In the end, I believe the paths chosen are the ones that are the best if I have listened to my heart as well as my head.

Q 26. How has being an entrepreneur affected your family life?

Ans: I have a very supportive family, so it has had a positive effect on family life.

Q 27. What is your greatest fear, and how do you manage fear?

Ans: Of course, it’s fear of failure. The most successful way for me to manage this has been to confront it with creative problem solving. Also, an understanding that failure is most often the best teacher helps.

Q 28. How did you decide on the location for your business?

Ans: A glib but true answer is that it found us. We have striven to make the best of it.

Q 29. Do you believe there is some sort of pattern or formula to becoming a successful entrepreneur?

Ans: No. I think that formulae for success are unique to the individual. I think a passion for your dream and the willingness to persevere are great fuel.

Q 30. If you could talk to one person from history, who would it be and why?

Ans: Leonardo da Vinci. I believe he had one of the greatest creative minds of all time. It would be wonderful to understand his inspiration and process for achievement.

Q 31. Who has been your greatest inspiration?

Ans: There have been many, for different reasons. Probably a couple of entrepreneurs that I worked for in the restaurant industry.

Q 32. What book has inspired you the most? (OR what is your favorite book?)

Ans: There is no one book that has inspired me the most. I am a big fan of the writings of Ken Blanchard, Steven Covey and Don Miguel Ruiz.

Q 33. What are some of the biggest mistakes you’ve made?

Ans: ◦ Following my heart without listening to my head.
◦ Making decisions without sufficient grounding in experience.
◦ Not listening, period.
◦ Being defensive or having a closed mind.

Q 34. How can you prevent mistakes or do damage control?

Ans:◦ Thorough planning and preparation are two of the best ways to avoid mistakes.
◦ First recognize or admit that you have a problem.
◦ Take ownership and respond quickly.
◦ After that, seek out the best team for the job and collaborate.

Q 35. What are your hobbies? What do you do in your non-work time?

Ans: ◦ I have had a Ham Radio license since I was a teenager. It’s great fun for me and takes me completely away from my work life.
◦ I also enjoy cross training.

Q 36. What makes you happy?

Ans: Making others happy.

Q 37. What sacrifices have you had to make to be a successful entrepreneur?

Ans: I have been willing to take a cut in income and get my hands dirty doing every job.

Q 38. If you were conducting this interview, what question would you ask?

Ans: You have done a great job. I have nothing creative to add.


Company Detail:

Company : Regents Pizzeria
Contact : Bill Vivian
Address : 4150 Regents Park Row #100
City : La Jolla
State : CA
Zip : 92037
Country : USA
Phone : 858-550-0406
Email : info@regentspizza.com