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Lena’s Wooden-fired Pizza & Faucet prides itself on workforce members, meals high quality | 1-on-1 with Pizza Management


Lena’s Wooden-fired Pizza & Faucet is run by workforce members who really feel like household to its house owners. The Alexandria, Virginia-based pizzeria opened in 2017 and has saved its second-floor open by including 4,000 sq. toes of themed eating.

| by Mandy Wolf Detwiler — Managing Editor, Networld Media Group

Eating places run greatest after they’re run by household. That is the philosophy of Jason Yates, who alongside together with his spouse and son, personal Lena’s Wooden-Fired Pizza & Faucet in Alexandria, Virginia. It is named after Yates’ mom, Lena, who was an Italian raised by Italians. His mom at all times saved the home as a heat spot for Yates and his 5 brothers rising up. There was at all times a pot of crimson sauce simmering on the range, and at all times an additional child or two staying for supper.


“Constructing (the pizzeria) was a tribute to my mother,” Yates stated, “and my reminiscences I had rising up along with her and my father and brothers.”

Amongst the favored dishes the Yates household had round have been big meatballs and a meatball pizza. The meatballs have been giant as a result of the brothers at all times had associates over, and so they boys have been at all times hungry. “As an alternative of creating small meatballs, she made one giant meatball the dimensions of 4.”


Yates says he is aware of the neighborhood effectively — his household has owned a number of different companies, together with an iconic automotive restore store for the reason that Nineteen Sixties and he wished to construct a gathering place. The household, Yates stated, may be very well-known for its hospitality which comes from its workforce members.

“We actually pleasure ourselves on having actually good workforce members,” Yates stated. “Now we have extraordinarily lengthy tenures with them — we’re speaking 10 years or longer — and we actually deal with them like they’re household. You are solely pretty much as good as your individuals are, as a result of they’re those on the entrance strains taking good care of issues. From our chef to our servers to our greeter — all people’s essential and we actually emphasize loads of coaching and loads of family-type ambiance with our workforce members.”

The restaurant opened in 2017 with 2,000 sq. toes inside and 1,000-square-foot patio exterior. The Yates’ companies are recognized for its nice customer support, nice merchandise and at all times being open throughout harsh instances like unhealthy climate. Firm administration would choose up its workforce members by four-wheel drive to make sure the restaurant stayed open.

“Individuals could not drive, however they’d stroll all down the streets an we’d completely be inundated with a totally full restaurant and a totally full (heated) patio,” Yates stated.

When the pandemic hit in 2020, it was all fingers on deck. Lena’s was in a position to put a tent up behind its constructing, including 4,000 sq. toes of eating and permitting clients to socially distance.

“It was known as the Oasis. We have been open when everybody else wasn’t,” Yates stated, “and we may truly entice expertise as a result of all people was shut down on the time.”

Lena’s served consolation meals — Italian fare —– and carryout enterprise boomed. They have been in a position to preserve the tent up for about two-and-a-half years earlier than the town requested them to close it down.

No worries, although. The restaurant had an additional empty 4,000 sq. toes on a second ground it wasn’t utilizing. How did they handle to maintain it full?

Every interval, they gave the area a distinct expertise each few months. For instance, one time the Oasis was constructed out to resemble a winter ski lodge. One other was made to appear like April in full bloom, and nonetheless third was made to appear like Nantucket with an open theme. The latest was the Velvet & Rye, a speakeasy-style tribute to the Twenties.

Every interval lasts about three to a few and a half months. It is saved underneath wraps and constructed out in simply 4 days. The Yates have the identical menu, however they’d specialty dishes to go together with the theme.


On the menu

Pizza is the corporate’s prime vendor and is baked in a 900-degree wood-fired oven. They use no fuel. Pepperoni is the highest vendor, in fact, and it is made with a high-grade pepperoni. The dough is dipped in a high-grade pepperoni sauce they make.

It is a thin-crust, Neapolitan-style pizza with a pleasant wood-fired char on it. Dough is baked utilizing a mixture of oak and walnut. Sauces are made in-house. It is essential to make as a lot in-house as attainable to make sure continuity of the model, Yates defined.

“We pleasure ourselves are actually high-end, contemporary elements,” Yates added. Other than the pepperoni, the Diavola is a fan favourite and is topped with spicy soppressata salami, mozzarella, fried kale, calabrese pepper and scorching honey.

When clients’ favourite pizzerias within the D.C./Philadelphia/Virginia space opened backup, many shoppers selected to stay with Lena’s as a result of the hospitality and meals had been so good. “We actually broadened our total native areas out to the neighboring states,” Yates stated.

The model hasn’t been with out its personal challenges. Discovering good individuals after which retaining them has been Lena’s greatest challenge. Their second problem has been maintaining with the escalating prices of merchandise. For instance, their takeout packing containers have gone up 4 instances.

“It is actually staying on prime of your prices,” Yates stated. “We run a P&L each month and we additionally run off a price range. I believe it is actually essential that folks moving into the enterprise or are within the enterprise really want to have a price range, they want to have a look at their P&L and see in the event that they’re on price range or the place they’re getting off to allow them to repair it shortly earlier than you get six months into it.”

Mandy Wolf Detwiler is the managing editor at Networld Media Group and the positioning editor for PizzaMarketplace.com and QSRweb.com. She has greater than 20 years’ expertise protecting meals, individuals and locations.
An award-winning print journalist, Mandy brings greater than 20 years’ expertise to Networld Media Group. She has spent almost twenty years protecting the pizza trade, from impartial pizzerias to multi-unit chains and each measurement enterprise in between. Mandy has been featured on the Meals Community and has gained quite a few awards for her protection of the restaurant trade. She has an insatiable urge for food for studying, and may inform you the place to search out the perfect slices within the nation after spending 15 years touring and consuming pizza for a dwelling. 




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