Lockdown Economy Nepal in a Homemade Pizza Outlet with Payal Dhakal

The interview was transcribed and adapted into an article by Sujan Lal Manandhar and Megha Shyamili Purushothaman

Lockdown Economy: Interviews by think tank AlterContacts.org with real entrepreneurs sharing insights, challenges and successes during the COVID19 global pandemic to inspire, motivate and encourage other entrepreneurs around the world.

In this interview, we meet Payal Dhakal, the Founder of Pizza Pasal, which is a homemade pizza delivery service. They aim to build a food chain in the Kathmandu valley and create employment opportunities. Payal talked about how Pizza Pasal started their business during the lockdown. Keeping a stock of ingredients and delivering the pizzas was a major challenge due to the transport restrictions. They also got some negative comments about starting a pizza place during the time of the pandemic. Payal simply put on a smile and kept moving forward. They did door to door marketing by distributing pamphlets to spread the word about their existence in the market. They would pick shorter routes to make deliveries and did not take any long-distance orders. Their priority was getting repeat customers by bringing consistency in their service and delivering on time. Their business is doing well now. Pizza Pasal wants to open a new outlet every three months and promote women entrepreneurship in the coming months.

Watch the video version of the interview.

Could you introduce us to Pizza Pasal?

Payal: Pizza Pasal is a women-led pizza restaurant. We started as a small home-based pizza delivery service. Currently, Pizza Pasal has four outlets (Dhumbarai, Samakhusi, Banathali and Naikap). It has grown into a good pizza brand in a short span of time. We took every safety precaution while delivering the pizza as people were afraid of the pandemic and were in a lockdown. We started with only four people who handled the production, marketing and delivery of pizzas. We now have a team of 7 members. Our major customers are families and students.

What problems did you face during the lockdown and what strategies did you implement to solve them?

Payal: The pandemic itself was a big problem for everyone. We came up with the strategy of doing door to door and digital marketing. We wanted repeat customers to sustain in the market. We focused on bringing consistency in the taste of our food and shorter delivery time. For that, we took pre-orders. We printed out our menu and we went to every house in my community. We used all precautions while doing our marketing. The odd/even rule caused problems in purchasing materials and delivery. We purchased the ingredients a couple of days earlier to make our pizza so that we had some in stock as well. As for the delivery, we avoided the traffic police by taking shorter routes and narrow streets. My brother-in-law and I handled the delivery. I asked my friends to lend me their two-wheeler vehicles for delivery. We did not take any long-distance orders.

What kind of interactions did you have with your clients during the lockdown?

Payal: Some people were supportive. They would compliment us for starting a business and creating employment opportunities at a young age. Some people were rude and told us that we were offering an expensive product while people were facing problems purchasing basic meals. They would tell us it was not time to come up with a business. I coped with the negative comments with a smile on my face. My initial target customer segment were people living in a housing community or apartments. I would give the menu to the security guard. I got the opportunity to talk to the manager of the community. People would get newspapers in the morning. I requested the manager to send our menu with the newspaper.

How did your competitors approach the lockdown and how were your strategies different from them?

Payal: As we were new in the market, we tried to serve our own community first which did not have other competitors. We are an affordable option and we provide the pizzas in three sizes.

Now that the lockdown has been eased in Nepal, how is your organization performing?

Payal: It is performing well. Initially, people were not very confident to come out of their houses and hang out with their friends and relatives at a restaurant even when the lockdown was lifted. We were selling 10 pizzas per day when we started out. But now it is better as compared to the situation in September (the second lockdown was lifted in this month) and our sales are growing every day.

What is the outlook for your organization for the next three months?

Payal: We want to establish a chain of restaurants in Kathmandu valley. I plan to start one new outlet every three months and provide employment opportunities. I would want someone with an entrepreneurial mindset and I would love it if they were women.

What are the three things in your business that you need help with?

Payal: Firstly, we want loyal customers to sustain in the market. We will continuously get better and try to get repeat customers which would help us in expanding the business. Secondly, I need help partnering with food delivery companies. Currently, it is an expensive option so I would like some affordable packages from such companies which would also benefit other startups like us. Finally, I request everyone not to make any assumptions about our product without tasting our pizza.

About the guest

Payal Dhakal is the founder of Pizza Pasal.

Pizza Pasal is a homemade pizza delivery service started by two sisters (Payal Dhakal and Anu Dhakal) during this COVID-19 pandemic. Pizza Pasal has two outlets and two home-based delivery services. They aim to build a food chain in the Kathmandu valley and create employment opportunities.

The UN-registered nonprofit social initiative that helps small businesses and self-employed professionals to overcome the challenges of the pandemic.