As a Papa Murphy’s Mom, I participate in a discussion group that allows me to ask questions and provide feedback and thoughts. There are private focus groups and surveys designed to gather opinions on a variety of subjects, too. I love being part of programs that allow me to chime in my two cents about new menu ideas or concerns regarding hot-button topics like food allergies. Occasionally I receive a gift card to buy a take and bake pizza but for the most part, it’s just an opportunity to work closely with a brand that I admire.
That opens doors to do cool things like go behind the counter, ask questions, see how things tick and even make my own pizza. A few weeks ago, Scott and I visited a newly opened Papa Murphy’s Pizza to learn all about the things you don’t see. How fresh are the ingredients? What about food allergies? Things like that. Giving my opinion about things online or in conference calls is great but a behind-the-scenes experience helps put things into perspective.
We met with Ronda Pardee who runs the new Bettendorf, Iowa location. They recently relocated to a new building and I want start by
gloating pointing out that it has a drive-up window. Yes. A pick-up window. Call ahead and order your pizza or salad then drive up to the window to get the order. The process of getting a Papa Murphy’s pizza is already pretty simple (and quick) but this feature at the new location is just brilliant. During the winter months, we won’t even need to get out of the car.
After getting a tour of the site, Ms. Pardee proceeded to tell us about their products. Did you know that the crust is all made in-house? They have two different dough mixes they use for their regular pizzas. We had the opportunity to watch team members Jay and Morgan hard at work creating pizza crusts in preparation for the day’s orders. The thin crust dough has less yeast but includes olive oil while the thick crust has no olive oil and more yeast than the thin. Papa Murphy’s proudly offers a gluten-free crust but they have it shipped in from gluten-free experts, Udi’s.
The discussion about gluten-free products opened the door to a great discussion on how Papa Murphy’s handles food allergies. Ms. Pardee explained that they take allergies very seriously by using new bowls and gloves when the customer lets them know of an allergy. She went on to explain that they show the same level of consciousness to accommodate customers such as vegetarians or those with religious beliefs relating to food. While I figured restaurants had an obligation to factor allergies into their process, I never would have thought about the cultural or religious aspect.
Fresh is good. Does that mean everything is chopped at the beginning of the day? Nope. While Papa Murphy’s chops their ingredients daily, they don’t do it all at once. To ensure it is fresh, they chop it in small batches. Of course, there are some items that are from a can and not fresh (IE artichoke hearts) but even those items are closely monitored. Even though they chop in small batches, they still have some that doesn’t get used. Rather than discarding those ingredients, they are donated. Speaking of charitable giving, local Papa Murphy’s stores offer fundraising programs as well. Ours even offers “Behind the counter” tours for groups and organizations like scout programs and pre-schools.
So let’s get back to the pizza. Their standard assembly time is 6 minutes but typical time at our branch is 3 minutes. Customers can call their orders in ahead of time and have it waiting when they arrive. (See above reference to the drive-thru!) They pride themselves in being customer oriented. Our particular location caters to the customers, even opening early if need be. During Hawkeye football games, they make sure their customers are able to pick up their pizzas and be home in time for kickoff.
Before leaving, Ms. Pardee showed me how to make a pizza. I opted for the Mediterranean Chicken. I love sun-dried tomatoes and a pizza with that is just heavenly. Of course, I’m not real proficient in the kitchen so being in someone else’s kitchen didn’t make me any better. The ingredients are all weighed as they go onto the pizza and modifications to the ingredients can be made upon request. “Extra onions in place of mushrooms” on the Angus steak and garlic as an example.
They regularly offer specials and even include an artisan line of pizzas now. While the menu offers their standard items, customers can create their own combinations as well. A few items are seasonal, like refried beans for Cinco de Mayo, but other than that most ingredients are available year-round. I even discovered that our store offers things like thick-crust cheese bread and special-order lasagna. Of course, they also offer salads and cookie dough. Yum.
While I was already a fan of Papa Murphy’s pizza, our look behind the curtain just secured my opinions… and made me realize that just because something isn’t written on the menu doesn’t mean it isn’t available.
To find the Papa Murphy’s Take and Bake near you, visit their website. You can follow them on Facebook and Twitter but I recommend you connect with your local store to see what promotions, discounts events and perks they offer. If the service at other stores is as great as ours, then you can’t go wrong.
What’s your favorite Papa Murphy’s pizza?