Straight Outta Kitchen: NYC PIE’s Journey to Build a Leading Pizza Brand in India

NYC PIE is a gourmet pizzeria specializing in New York style thin crust pizzas.

The brand is the brainchild of Raj Rao, an ex-Four Seasons, Ritz Carlton F&B veteran of 30 years and Sukriti Singh Rao. They knew that pizza as a category is loved by most people and so they started their very own pizza brand in August 2014.

Since then they have transformed the majority of the business into a cloud kitchen model, drastically cutting overheads incurred in running a dine-in space.

We had a chance to chat with Sukriti Rao for this edition of Straight Outta Kitchen.

Sukriti Sing Rao - Pizza Brand Owner
Sukriti Singh Rao, NYC PIE

Here’s a look at our super fun conversation:

Do you run the entire show by yourself?

Since the brand’s inception 4 years back, Raj and I were running it by ourselves but from March this year, I got in two partners – Jaspreet Singh Jolly and Yashpal Garg. Jaspreet and his family had earlier started Republic of Chicken in India. Yash is an ex KPMG, he’s our CFO now.

How do you differentiate yourself from your competitors?

Our dough and sauces are made fresh from scratch daily. Our meats and cheese are all imported and are of top-notch quality. But what really differs us is our passion, dedication and focus to make NYC PIE as India’s leading pizza brand.

new pizza range nyc pie

You have had your share of PR features, what was the pinch-me moment for your brand?

When Mr Vir Sanghvi tweeted about us a few times and said that we’re the best in the business and also NYC.PIE won the award of the Best Pizza restaurant three years in a row.

What marketing strategies would you recommend for such a niche brand?

Since we’re a niche brand, our target audience is very selective and therefore, our marketing strategy is also very selective, reaching the right filtered audience. Mostly social media, advertisements on food ordering platforms, SMS campaigns, B2B event activities and exclusive event partnerships have been successful for us so far.

Is it tough to be out there building a brand with patriarchy all around?

Yes, although I’m the toughest out of all three of us, people tend to listen only to my male partners so if I want someone’s ass kicked, I load the gun on Jaspreet’s shoulder.

Have you ever had a 911 situation in your kitchen, if yes then what?

Yes. On one Diwali night, we had a waiting of 45 minutes for our then dine in space. It was one wild night, where I and my delivery boys didn’t even get to drink a sip of water for 6 hours.

Another time, one of my delivery boys bailed out at the last minute, and I went on a delivery and got a tip in return ☺

A restaurant brand/restaurateur you look up to?

I look up to the QSR model in general where you expand close to 100 outlets and yet manage to maintain the same standards.

Name any 3 kitchen essentials for your brand?

Our oven – which is handcrafted from a French guy in Puducherry. Our ingredients that cannot be compromised and the makeline for prepping our pizzas.

Your favourite pizza type?

pizza by nyc pie

La Bomba, as Raj used to call it ‘a Vegan’s nightmare’ with pepperoni, ham, sausage, and bacon. Another one is Firecracker – chicken in peri-peri sauce.

What would you’d be doing if not running your own restaurant brand?

Importing furniture from Bali and Thailand. I have a weakness for interiors.

Something you wish you were told before starting NYC Pie?

Raising capital for brand expansion is way more tough than what you read in the daily financials ☺

If you had a biography made, what would the opening line be?

A complete Bollywood movie with all the drama.

How do you plan to scale your business?

My partners and I are in talks with a handful of potential investors and something should work on the same lines as we want very soon. We want to open 100 of NYC Pie outlets across the country, starting with establishing ourselves in Delhi NCR first.

Three problems that you want a tech company to solve for your brand?

Communication with our customers
Order management
Inventory management

What advice do you have for budding women entrepreneurs?

Do what the hell you want. Stop listening to other people’s advice and following a clichéd lifestyle. We’re way stronger and the only person who can stop you from succeeding is you.

Want more? Read other Straight Outta Kitchen stories here.