Young entrepreneur an old timer in pizza biz

Belmont B.C. Pizza under new ownership

by BETH ALTENA

Tony Griffin knows his pizza. Griffin is the new owner of B.C. Pizza in Belmont, his second restaurant. He has been working in pizza since he was 14 and took a job at a B.C. Pizza.

The good news, bad news about being very good at something is that you are likely to be doing a lot of it. That’s all good to Tony Griffin, who has a degree in culinary management from the program at Grand Rapids Community College—the third-ranked program in the nation—knew even before his college days that he liked to cook. “I made dinner for my dad one night and after that I was responsible for dinner at least one night a week,” he said. He was about ten at the time. It was only four years later that he took a job at a B.C. Pizza, and he was hooked.

Now, just at age 22, he owns two B.C. Pizzas, employs 28 people and knows how important it is for businesses to be community involved. “In a big town it’s harder to have much of an impact on a community,” he said of his choice to purchase B.C. Pizza in Belmont, located at 2350 Belmont Center Drive (a quarter mile from the YMCA). Griffin considered purchase of restaurants in Grand Rapids, but chose the Belmont area because it is close to Northview and Rockford and is a growing community. “We work closely with the schools and churches in our area,” he said.

The restaurant offers a Point of Excellence program for schools, where B.C. Pizza provides gift certificates that teachers can award to children for kindness to others or other qualities of character. The restaurant offers a deep discount to hometown heroes—teachers, paramedics, police and firefighters. “That’s to thank them for taking care of us locally. That’s what they are doing,” Griffin said, noting there is a fire station just up the road from the Belmont B.C. Pizza and a Rockford Ambulance substation just down the road.

For a restaurant, there are other important elements to success. “Plus our food is phenomenal,” Griffin noted. The first pizza he ever made was a chicken Parmazeti, ironically B.C. Pizza’s biggest fan favorite.

The trick behind the best food is using as many fresh, high-quality ingredients. Whether diners are hitting the daily 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. pizza and salad buffet, or grabbing a grinder, chicken wings sub, wrap or made-to-order pizza, the cheese will be freshly shredded, the meat sliced in house, and the dough will be fresh that day. “We do that every day, all day,” Griffin said.

The restaurant also uses local vendors when possible, such as the El Matador tortilla chips on the nacho pizza (which isn’t on the menu, but is available and delicious). He said people have called the B.C. Pizza wet burrito the “greatest wet burrito they’ve ever had.”

Griffin said he typically puts in about 90 hours a week, so his career isn’t for everyone. It is still an all-American success story about how hard work and determination can pay off, even for a young man in Michigan in a time when the economy could be (and is getting ) better.

“Business isn’t about money, it’s about people,” Griffin said. He believes in encouraging people through a positive environment and a passionate attitude in all he does. “I’m not a retail guy. I’m a pizza guy. I love to make pizzas,” he said.

B.C. Pizza is a franchise and Griffin would love to see others make their own careers as he has done. For those interested, Griffin advises the course of action he took. “Put some experience under your belt, whatever it is you are interested in doing. For any job, getting paid to get the experience is the cheapest college in the world. College is great book learning, but real life experience trumps that any day of the week.”

B.C. Pizza opens every day at 11 a.m. and is open Sunday to Wednesday until 10 p.m., Thursday until 11 p.m., and Friday and Saturday until midnight. For those who have yet to experience a B.C. Pizza restaurant, drop in and congratulate Griffin on his new business and his new daughter, Skylyn Faith—and watch for B.C. Pizza stepping to the plate in local events. “Expect us to do good things in the community.”

 

 

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