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Mar 2, 2013 05:31 PM

Pepe's Branches Hurting?????

Regular readers of this board know that I am a New Haven native and a Sally's lover. That said, I do like Pep'e Apizza very much in New Haven, but have never liked the branches in Manchester, Fairfield or Danbury. I have never tried the NY or Casino branches.

I have often found that restaurants doing good business do not resort to coupon magazines to stimulate business. Pepe's in Fairfield county has large billboards on I-95 to advertise.

Today, the March-April edition of Clipper magazine arrived in our mailbox, actually we got 4 copies. Lo, and behold, there is a full-page ad for Pepe's Fairfield and Danbury locations with two coupons. On Fridays and Saturdays they are offering 2 free salads with the purchase of any large pizza. On Sundays-Thursday: $5 off any large pizza.
A large Mozzarella pizza is $16.25 (according to their website).

It appears that business must be hurting to give away 2 salads that would sell for $7.90 with a $16.25 purchase on a Friday or Saturday night.
Taking $5 off a large on weeknights makes Pepe's cheaper than many or the very ordinary local pizza joints.

Even so, I'll still make the 30 minute drive to Wooster Street in New Haven (as I did tonight) for Apizza and avoid the Fairtfield Pepe's which I can reach in 15 minutes.

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  1. It's a pretty big leap to associate promotion and marketing to a company hurting. It could be their very success that is driving the couponing. It could be that they can AFFORD the discounts because they have the volume to do so, and are just trying to increase traffic to even greater numbers. Salads are low cost items to include with a pizza, itself a very high margin product. Think about it, Little Caesars sells a (crap) pizza all day, every day, for a measly $5 and makes money doing it.

    4 Replies
    1. re: CapeCodGuy

      The first couple of years the Fairfield branch was open you would have to wait hours to get in on a Friday and Saturday night. Now, the place is not full.

      IMHO, and I've been a New Haven Apizza eater for almost 60 years, Pepe's took a very good thing and spread it far too thin. They cannot run 6 locations at the same level as the original Wooster St restaurant.

      The staff is different, the ownership is not the same at all locations (assorted partnerships). and it has lost some of its mystique by overexpanding.
      Apizza made in a coal fired brick oven is an artisinal offering and can't be mass recreated ala the McDonald's formula.

      Local New Haven area CHers are familiar with Jimmie's of Savin Rock, a multi generational seafood and hot dog emporium that had branched out in Hamden and Norwalk in the past, that has since retrenched to the main West Haven shorefront location and rakes in the money there.

      1. re: bagelman01

        I can't speak specifically of the Pepe's branches vs. the original, but it could be as simple as the oven. Ask ANY Bostonian to compare the original North End location of Pizzeria Regina to any of the branches and they'll say the same as you, night and day. Why? Most claim it's all about the oven, the original has 90+ years of use and seasoning. The branches are all much newer ovens. Very analogous to Pepe's IMO.

        As to comparing business from 6 or7 years ago to now, omitting the fact that any new restaurant out of the box gets a bump in business which levels off, ALL restaurants are down in this economy, even good ones have double digit decreases.

        1. re: bagelman01

          I agree with this spreading yourself too thin theory. Same thing with Chips for pancakes. First and only Orange. Now Trumbull coming, and he wants to open in Norwalk. Scares me.

          1. re: cheereeo

            I don't care for Chips in Fairfield at all, and find Orange tolerable at best.
            That said, the owner is a friend and he has family to run Fairfield and Trumbull (haven't discussed Norwalk with him).
            Unlike Pepe's he owns all the restaurants, not differnt opartner groups and no need to replicate a 100 year old brick oven.

      2. The yonkers location seems to always have a steady crowd whenever I go.

        Definitely not as good as the original, but a LOT better than most of the places near me. id go more often but its expensive for a pizza joint.

        1. Bagel, I have wondered whether the clam rakers in Rhode Island who supplied only the original Pepe's for decades, can supply all the satellite stores.

          1. I think bagel has a, 2fers, early birds are usually the harbingers of a change in strategy. I have never been to the outposts either, but I do believe the over-expansion dilutes the model. Aren't D'bury and Yonkers fairly new? Maybe just trying to create a little traffic in the door, more useful than the stupid "Like us on FB!" nonsense

            4 Replies
            1. re: BiscuitBoy

              Danbury and Yonkers are fairly new. As I understand it, Danbury and Fairfield have the same ownership, Yonkers, Manchester and the Casino have different ownership combinations.
              The traffic at the casino keeps the Pepe's full. The novelty has worn off in Fairfield. Those of us who only eat New Haven Apizza will trek to Wooster Street. For those who just like good pizza, Fairfiled has too many other good choices.

              Friday afternoon, I took my 16 yo to Colony Grill (Fairfield) for lunch. She would not even consider Pepe's. The location is NOT hip.

              In fact my wife saw the coupons in the ad and asked if Pepe's was going to close in Fairfield....

              1. re: bagelman01

                ah Colony...the hot oil pie, right? Friend of mine knows the owner. They're branching out a little too

                1. re: BiscuitBoy

                  Yes, but they are not immune to this problem either. A friend of mine reported that the Colony in Avon closed a few months ago. It never really caught on in that part of the state.

                  1. re: BiscuitBoy

                    Actually, I had mushroom, never was a fan of the hot oil pie.
                    I know that they failed in Avon, but Fairfiled is busy and they are opening in Milford soon.

                    BUT, unlike Pepe's who exists on Apizza, Colony in Fairfield (and I assume Milford) is in a trendy entertainment district and has a thriving bar business. Pepe's needs to make it on the food end.

              2. I haven't ever witnessed a slow day @ the Mohegan location.

                4 Replies
                1. re: Td61

                  I just don't understand all this talk that discounts and coupons mean a business is in trouble. Many of the oldest and most successful, and very busy restaurants around here always have coupons and gift certificate deals all the time. It's a viable marketing strategy for a place that wants to maintain traffic and attract new customers. That is all.

                  1. re: CapeCodGuy

                    Not to be argumentative. But the Cape is a unique situation.
                    Having had a home on the Cape for decades, as well as owned rental units there, I've seen that one of the first things tourists (and others from off Cape) do on arrival is look for the dining discounts to make there vacation dollars go farther.

                    And in off season so many of the restaurants are closed or hurting that even the best need all marketing tools available to get through the slow months of reduced population and income.

                    1. re: bagelman01

                      Bagel, that's not argumentative at all. You make a valid point.

                    2. re: CapeCodGuy

                      Even expensive restaurants can offer a deal.....apparently Fishtails has no problem with it.

                      The Deal

                      Fishtail by David Burke is rated "very good to excellent" (24) by Zagat. New York Magazine hails this Upper East Side spot a Critics' Pick and calls the restaurant's namesake a "virtuoso chef with a distinct, razzle-dazzle style." For $99, regularly $200, two can dine on a four-course menu packed with fresh seafood options.


                      Personally, I'm more wary of lawyers who advertise myself.