Bailey Ventures: Offering Far More than Pizza

Bailey Ventures has served its region for over a quarter century, operating as the umbrella corporation for four Boston Pizza restaurants throughout the Alberta province. Boston Pizza International Inc., a large national franchise specializing in presenting family-friendly casual dining and a sports bar under one roof, has over 350 locations in Canada and approximately 175 in the U.S. Although Bailey Ventures franchises the corporate concept, which is built around renowned pizza and pasta dishes, the company runs its locations with a locally minded outlook.

Dennis Bailey opened his first location in Calgary in December 1987 after leaving the window manufacturing industry. While starting fresh in the food and hospitality industry at first felt like a leap of faith, the venture has blossomed into great success and a legacy Dennis can pass on to his family. “My son, Dave Bailey, is our director of operations and my daughter, Lisa Brunn, is the controller, while Dave’s wife, Jasmine, is a district manager,” shares Dennis, who remains CEO of Bailey Ventures. “This [family-led management structure] is one of the big advantages of our corporation. It helps us make decisions in a short time frame.”

Corporate Oversight with a Family Focus

With a new generation of Baileys taking point and assuring cost-efficient, customer-focused operations, all four of Bailey Ventures’ Boston Pizza locations proudly remain independently owned and reinforce guest satisfaction with the help of 200 carefully selected and trained employees. Boston Pizza’s corporate offices help manage the list of suppliers, prices and menu items with the input of the subsidiary stores.

Dennis views this corporate oversight as a means to stay dependable and successful. “The corporate office does all of our purchasing, ensuring we have a consistent, quality product,” details Dennis. “Suppliers are required to submit products to our corporate offices for approval. They have to meet our high standards – if they don’t, they don’t get the contract.” The in-house chefs also have a say in determining product selection.

The franchise relies on focus groups to test new products before they make it onto the Boston Pizza menu. If the focus group thinks an item could be a success, the various locations put it to the test. “We might run a new product as a feature or special to test it and see how it fares with customers,” explains Dennis. “But every new product that’s featured doesn’t make it onto the menu.” The company prides itself on maintaining a diverse menu as a means to maintain the loyalty of its longtime customers and to attract new ones.

Don’t let the name fool you; Boston Pizza is much more than just pizza. Boston Pizza’s menu encompasses any craving, including spicy buffalo wings, the gravy- and cheese curd-smothered fries specialty poutine, BBQ pulled pork sliders, bacon-double-cheeseburger pizza, crispy chicken pecan salad, baked salmon filets. The franchise also features an interactive children’s menu and the option for customers to place orders for pickup online.

According to Dennis, it’s all about providing delicious, quality food that consumers want. “You should be able to get good service at nearly any restaurant, but I want our customers to say ‘Wow, that was great,’” stresses Bailey.

Helping the Dough Rise

Boston Pizza is all about noticing trends in the market and responding with innovative solutions; to achieve this, the company changes its menu about twice a year. “We like to keep pace with what’s happening in the industry,” shares Dennis. “It’s important to take notice of what consumers want.”

Recently, Boston Pizza has responded to the demand for gluten-free products by creating additions to its menu that address such dietary considerations. “We’re leading the field in that regard, with gluten-free pasta and pizza choices,” details Dennis. “It’s been a phenomenal success so far.” Also noteworthy is that the company offers menu items that meet the guidelines of the Heart and Stroke Foundation’s Health Check program. The company has the ability to do so because nothing is frozen or processed. “Everything is made fresh daily,” describes Dennis. “We’re definitely not a fast-food restaurant.”

In addition to responding to industry trends and updating menus, Boston Pizza expands and revamps its facilities about every seven years. “That’s about the timeframe corporate has decided on when buildings start to get tired,” explains Dennis. Remodels include everything from new carpets and seating to kitchen equipment, assuring the company’s presence on the leading edge. “The last location we opened was very modern and state of the art,” describes Dennis.

Bailey Ventures understands how to successfully navigate the industry’s state of flux, but running a restaurant, even one supported by a larger corporation, presents challenges. “This business is always hard to keep up with, but as long as we keep delivering a quality product with an exceptional level of service, we’ll be successful,” shares Dennis.

Boston Pizza is a national franchise with corporate oversight, but Dennis thinks the difference that can be felt at his locations comes down to family and good people. Indeed, his independently owned locations maintain a warm atmosphere and serve as local hangouts for families, friends and coworkers to meet and share a great meal. Bailey Ventures maintains its Boston Pizza restaurants with a hands-on philosophy and dedication to quality, and the Bailey family will continue to take on a leadership role in the industry that assures delicious, innovative products that consistently please consumers.