Jarrod Ives, a former WunderHaus restaurant employee, works on his music Nov. 3 in a studio he built in Hot Springs, Ark. His newborn daughter, Ella, sleeps next to him. (Will Newton for The Washington Post)

For a lot of people the Pandemic has given us time to consider a lot of deep questions. And some of the lot-of-us are asking the following: Do I have to have a job-job?

Most are a “yes.” But some aren’t so sure.


This story follows some folks looking for alternatives.

It’s an excellent breakdown of the splintering effects of the COVID on a single restaurant, Little Rock’s WunderHaus.

Yes a lot of restaurant jobs are the worst, but a lot of the worst jobs teach the best stuff, both about business and the business of being a better version of yourself.

When you’ve figured out some of the world for yourself, the path to improvement–should you have any interest, will be better mapped out.

Employees will be back within the next two years. It has been my experience that if you let them go do their thing–figuring out a bit of the world and themselves–they return all the better for it.

And they are ready to work.


A formerly partially frozen AP Festival Pizza.

I get asked all the time if I would get back into the restaurant business. 

The follow up question is typically along the lines of ‘what would you do different,’ or something like that. 

Hard “NO” on #1, but I think a lot about #2.

Nobody doesn’t know it’s awful out there right now. So much pivoting … 

These people may not be coming back.  Barring an economic shift (which will come at some point). A topic for another post.

What would I do if was to open another pizza shop? Start with the pizza itself. There is nothing new under the sun, but you can innovate with existing products and procedures. (And tech. Could this be a business blog entry/ linkedin-thing if I didn’t mention tech?)

** Remember, we are simplifying and automating crap procedures. Nobody wants these jobs right now.

  1. Use a raw frozen dough skin. You cannot know how many unwanted employee hours are deleted here—and potential order problems solved. Austin’s Pizza of the past did this: we used them at ACL. Guess what? Pizza was sometimes better there than at the stores. 
  2. Use an automatic sauce machine/ robot. They exist. They probably work. It seems like a small thing but it’s not. 
  3. Get a dairy to develop a pizza-sized cheese sheet. Trust me on this. I have been to cheese plants (oh the smells). They can make a 14” log and slice it with deli paper in the middle. 

We have cut out a huge amount of non-staff-able, poop-y labor, we have avoided most problems that can occur before the restaurant opens, and we have reduced costs with perfect measurements. If all of this can be done from frozen even better. 

All the (only one) person has to do is set this pizza in the oven. That’s it. A HUGE amount of pizzas are just cheese.

Part 2 coming soon; probably Fridays.