Rick Pizzi is a regular on the Ice Cream Trade show circuit. He’s the smooth looking dude from Waltham Mass. As well as providing the locals of Waltham some of the finest fruits vegetables and frozen treats, he is a pretty good judge of karoake bars to boot. He is often used in this consulting role at the NICRA convention each year.
Lets visit a bit with Rick and learn a little more at Pizzi Farms.
Description of your frozen dessert business?
We are a traditional New England style “walk up” window Ice Cream stand, open seasonally from April 1st to Oct 1st. We offer 14% Hard Ice Cream, 10% Soft Serve, Hard Frozen Yogurt, Sorbet, Sherbet & Slush. Our menu includes Upside Down Banana Splits, Sundaes, Frappes, Ice Cream Sodas, Fresh Fruit Smoothies & Raspberry Lime Rickey’s.
We are located in Waltham, just 9 miles west of Boston, MA.
How many employees?
We have 24 staff members working 3 hr shifts from 11am – 10pm daily, this allows us plenty of flexibility to schedule around summer vacations, summer classes & captains practices. College Students make up about 60% of our staff with the remaining being high school students. Our high school staff gets us through Easter, Mothers Day, Memorial Day & Labor Day weekends. We are probably the only seasonal Ice Cream shop that closes on the Fourth of July. (You’ll find me golfing that day!)
What did you do before entering the frozen dessert business?
Pizzi Farm is a roadside farm stand built in 1965 selling fresh fruits & vegetables grown on our 35 acre farm started by my grandparents in 1933.
What inspired you to get into the business
When a local ice cream landmark (Chadwick’s) lost their lease and was forced to close, I thought ice cream would be a perfect compliment to my existing business. I headed off to Penn State for Dick Warren’s “Successful Ice Cream Retailers Seminar” in Jan 2000. When I returned I joined both NICRA & NEICRA and attended their conventions meeting some of the friendliest people on earth ! Our first cone was served in August 2001.
How many flavors to you sell?
32 flavors of hard ice cream, 6 flavors of hard frozen yogurt, 2 flavors of sorbet, 3 sherbets, 2 no sugar added ice creams, 5 flavors of slush, 17 flavors of soft serve.
Most Popular Flavors
This year we introduced Salted Caramel Chocolate Pretzel ice cream which has been overwhelmingly popular ! JavaBerry is a New England favorite soft serve flavor consisting of a twist of Coffee soft serve & Raspberry sherbet. Black Raspberry Chocolate Chip & Peanut Butter Cup are our top selling frozen yogurts.
What Equipment do you use?
We have 3 Nelson dip cabinets, 3 Taylor Freezer 8756 soft serve machines, Flavor Burst & an Elmeco slush machine.
What is your greatest marketing triumph?
I learned about Moovie nights at a Nicra convention from the folks at Capinnari’s, We featured movies on our lawn tuesday nights in July & August. The response was so positive that we have been asked to take our “show” on the road this season. “Movie Night at the Mansion” will be held on the lawns of the Lyman Estate in Waltham,MA home to the oldest greenhouse in the United States and in August we will present “Movies on the Common” next to city hall. Our signature movie is the “Christmas in July” feature as we choose a christmas themed film and run a “Toys for tots” drive.
What do you love about your business?
I find it rewarding when a customer thanks me for getting into the ice cream business and compliments how we created an environment for them to come out an enjoy a night out with their family !
Whats the one thing you wish you could change about your business?
Weather in New England has been crazy….80 degrees in March, Snow in April, Rain in May and a heat wave in June !