When commercial pilot school didn't meet his expectations, Tanner Stephens decided to fly solo and start his own business.
He took the leap by opening Westside Pizza in Port Townsend last August. Less than one year later, Stephens and his fiancee Bonnie Ogilvie opened a second Westside Pizza in Sequim.
A grand opening celebration is scheduled from today to next Wednesday, June 3-10. Specials include single slices of pizza for less than $1 and two large, three-topping pizzas for "a price that can't be beat."
Stephens, 26, worked at a Westside Pizza shop on Bainbridge Island during his high school years. When he started looking around for a business investment, the pizza industry proved a natural fit.
"I love pizza," he said while simultaneously greeting and serving customers during the lunch rush.
"I can do pizza in my sleep."
Westside Pizza is a Washington-based chain with 18 locations across the state. The dough is made fresh, and the toppings and spices are fresh, never frozen.
Although it's a chain store, the owners are local, Stephens said.
Stephens and Ogilvie, 20, live in Port Ludlow and commute to Sequim daily.
If all goes well, the ambitious young couple plan to open a third restaurant in Port Angeles in the fall.
"There's always customers to be found," Stephens said.
His business strategy is simple: Marketing and customer service are everything.
"I'd rather lose $5 and make a customer happy than make money and lose a customer."
A new whole-wheat crust is on the menu.
Students are eligible for a discount using their ASB cards.
Westside Pizza is unique in that it accepts coupons from competitors in the same town.
"We use their great coupons for our great pizza," Stephens said.
Ashley Miller can be reached at ashleyo@sequim gazette.com.
The Sequim Gazette is located at 147 W. Washington Street in Sequim.
Business hours are Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Phone 360-683-3311, or toll free at 800-829-5810. FAX 360-683-6670.
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