Last Night in Oak Cliff, Jay Jerrier and Zoli's Showed How Not to Open a Pizza Restaurant

Categories: Food News

Zolis-opening.JPG
There is no doubt Jay Jerrier is deft with social media. Certainly the quality of his food helps explain the success of both locations of his Cane Rosso pizza restaurants, but his skilled use of Facebook and Twitter doesn't hurt. The Deep Ellum location of his Neapolitan pizza restaurant has more than 8,000 likes on Facebook. Lucia, considered by many the best restaurant in Dallas, has 3,000.

So by the time Jerrier was ready to open his newest spot, a New York-style pizzeria in Oak Cliff, his Internet presence had gathered its own inertia. A Facebook page for Zoli's NY Pizza Tavern was quickly spotted by D Magazine, and the restaurant had a blog post published about it before Jerrier had even settled on a location. The momentum was building, post by post.

Jerrier's not just social-media savvy, he's traditional-media savvy, too. He held a slew of preview events that produced pizza porn by the pound. There were five mentions of the spot in D by the time the restaurant opened last night, and four more here on City of Ate.

See also:
-Jay Jerrier of Il Cane Rosso to Open New York Style Spot
- Zoli's, a New York-Style Pizza Shop, Opens in Oak Cliff Next Week

So last night at 5 p.m., when Zoli's was expected to open, a sizable line had already formed outside the door. Two women dropped out quickly. "We're going to go drink and come back," they said, which turned out to be a solid plan, except for the coming-back part. Inside the restaurant, a computer glitch was delaying the opening while outside demand continued to swell. When the doors finally opened there was a deluge of hungry people.

The line stretched the length of the restaurant and then snaked around the tables. And while the cashiers were taking orders, a lingering computer issue held up the tickets servers planned to use to deliver slices. The place was loud and uncomfortably warm. Seating was at a premium. Stress levels were high, and some of the staff looked like they'd been dropped into a sugared-up kindergarten class without any training.

"The amazingly poor service is what got me," someone named Donny Perry wrote on Zoli's Facebook page, where more than 70 people weighed in on the first-night fiasco. "There was no excuse for that. The wait staff had the personalities of a wall. A smile, a thank you, a we're sorry for the delay could we get you something to drink? These are kind of basic things."

Trinh Tran piled on: "My family and I were affected by the computer glitch. After waiting 40 minutes for our order, we found out it never made it into the system. Luckily we saved our receipt and later got it (although it was wrong)."

But there were far more comments from customers who supported Jerrier despite the rough start.

Patrick L. Boyd-Lloyd blamed the customers for showing up in the first place: "ANYBODY who goes to a place on OPENING NIGHT is CRAZY!!!"

Kathy Maloy said her group of five had items missing from their order but despite the error "the food was absolutely delicious!!!"

Regardless of the customer's sentiments, last night was a disaster. Jerrier called it that himself, citing chaos with the ordering process, a green staff and overwhelming crowds. He decided to shut the restaurant down early, and apologized to his customers. He also promised to open again tonight at 5 p.m.

Suddenly the old-school, pre-Internet, quiet soft opening isn't looking so bad.

Zoli's 202 W. Davis St., 214-942-9654, zolispizza.com

Location Info

Venue

Map

Zoli's NY Pizza Tavern

202 W. Davis St., Dallas, TX

Category: Restaurant

My Voice Nation Help
50 comments
becoolerifyoudid
becoolerifyoudid

If it was that bad at Zoli's I can only imagine what will happen tomorrow through the weekend at Trader Joe's.

dentonyte
dentonyte

im cool with them closing for computer issues, but lying to future customers about running out of food is quite the BRIDGE BURNING. 


dentonyte
dentonyte

i can understand computer problems, but don't lie to future customers that u ran out of food! Hell to the no!

anteeezy
anteeezy

dont got to a restaurant on opening day... d'uh!

Americano
Americano

Restaurants require practice, like sports teams need training camp.  Many of the staff will not last, but the one's who do will be better for it.  I've opened more than a few restaurants, and something went wrong on opening night in every one.  (and that's with a soft opening)   That is how you learn.

Cliffhanger
Cliffhanger

Personally  I like to order a pie from Home Run, crack open a beer, and bitch about how Oak Cliff is going to hell in a handbag.

Daniel McGarvey II
Daniel McGarvey II

I have little compassion for people who choose to wait in line to eat

Will Evans
Will Evans

Went with friends, ordered and waited with patience, had a great time, lots of good people, and learned that the grandma pizza slice is even better than the hype. (that's actually our party in line in the picture).

roadrunnereats
roadrunnereats

After 6 months of hype and build up, I'm battling Zoli's overload and I haven't even eaten there.

Twinwillow
Twinwillow

Hey, shit happens! Especially on the opening night of a new restaurant. Part computer (the biggest problem) and to certain extent, a green crew. It'l all work out though because Jay is pro and we all love the guy.

Jay, I wish you all the best. I know you will be a huge success in Oak Cliff. It's the perfect place for Zoli's. See you at there in a few weeks when the initial madness dies down.

Holly Zimmerman
Holly Zimmerman

Why did they not have ordinary order tickets - old school - and call it out to the kitchen? Reliance on computers is stupid.

Oscar Mendoza
Oscar Mendoza

I love Oak Cliff, Zoli's is going to be successful regardless of their early issues

Jay Jerrier
Jay Jerrier

We'll extend hours once we get the logistics down. We need a few good services under our belt before we start doing lunch and call in orders.

mcdallas
mcdallas topcommenter

They should have called it BPE.  Best Pizza Ever.  You know, to manage expectations...

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

Was anyone from the Observer there last night? edit:dumb question ignore, nevermind, I figured it out.  Should have asked did anyone from the Observer actually get food last night?  Also Lockhart tweeted that they will not serve lunch today, the pit is giving them fits

Kathryn Weber
Kathryn Weber

Despite opening night problems, I'm sure they'll be worked out. I've been talking and excited about Zoli's since I heard the concept. I'm going to have to give it a few weeks to calm down OR even better maybe Mr. Jerrier you could extend hours to include lunch?!

Osvaldo Garcia
Osvaldo Garcia

All restaurants in the bishop arts district suck....nothing but a hipsters paradise.

Nictacular
Nictacular

I never saw why people get so pissed off when they go to a place fully expecting it to be a shitshow. Lady Friend manages a Chili's and she said that last week when they did the 15% for Kidd's Kids, that it was a COMPLETE nightmare. Ticket times ran really long, the bar was swamped, lines out the door...and lots of free food handed out on a night people went out specifically to spend money.

I get that you shouldn't have to pay for wrong orders or food that never made it to the table, but I don't think it's unreasonable to be a bit more patient when you can clearly see the resto is getting it's ass handed to it.

kafromet
kafromet

Interesting math in this article. 68 comments on their facebook page (3 of those from the store account.) but I only see 5 negative comments, and those are from only two posters.


I'm not sure how Scott Reitz got this take on things unless he read a different Facebook than I did.  Based on the comments I saw, this article sounds like someone wanted to make a story where there wasn't one.

melissalopez925
melissalopez925

never poo poo the idea of a soft opening.  Fortunately, this place will most likely overcome the disaster not only because of the name, but because of the revitalization taking place.  Warms my OC native heart....

Jay Jerrier
Jay Jerrier

It's all true. We've been working on fixes since last night.

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

I was actually saddened when I read this, because I had the same experience on Saturday.  I walked over to the newly opened Urban Vineyard in 100 degree weather and was greeted by a locked door, brown paper on the windows, and a sign that said, "Closing September 1st".  That, coupled with a giant "GRAND OPENING" sign strung across Browder Walkway.  This was not a happy Myrna.

Jared Culpepper
Jared Culpepper

"ANYBODY who goes to a place on OPENING NIGHT is CRAZY!!!" Yes. No shit this place was a crowded nightmare, The Observer (among others) have been touting it's opening like the return of Jesus. Sucks they had such a rough opening night, but that's how these things go.

Larry Thompson
Larry Thompson

I live in oak cliff and the same sort of things happened when Lockharts and Bolsa opened and they turned out fine .Relax people it will turn out great ,the others did!

Jason Harris
Jason Harris

Silly rabbits. I like pretty much every Oak Cliff restaurant I've been too, but just about each one has service that leaves a lot to be desired. That's coupled with the hype of a grand opening of course is going to leave you hungry and tired.

frankturrentine
frankturrentine

@Jay Jerrier Hey, hook me up! I'm right across the street!

loislane907
loislane907

@Jay Jerrier Glad to see you here responding. Good luck and I look forward to coming in for lunch, some day soon! :)


foodbiatch
foodbiatch

@Domingo Rodriguez Disagree. Cracker crust can't ever be the best. What is this, St. Louis? ;)

doofUSA
doofUSA

@Domingo Rodriguez Eno's is my #1 for Dallas, but that's a completely different style of pizza

doofUSA
doofUSA

@Osvaldo Garcia real hipsters can't afford to eat at most of those restaurants

Twinwillow
Twinwillow

@Osvaldo Garcia You must live in Frisco.

alteredjustice
alteredjustice

@Nictacular That's an extremely reasonable thought process to be patient. Unfortunately people who have never suffered or toiled a day in their lives will never understand this "patience" of which you speak.

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

@Nictacular Clarice Teasfield reported that on channel 4 and made it sound like it went as smooth as silk.

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

@kafromet Not so fast.  Go over to Pegasus and read their article on Zoli's nightmare opening.

joe.tone
joe.tone moderator

@kafromet You're right: "twice as many" is bad math. I don't think he meant that literally, but we'll change that.

doofUSA
doofUSA

@Jason Harris I've received good to great service at every Oak Cliff restaurant I have been to.

Nictacular
Nictacular

@Myrna.Minkoff-Katz Maybe it was at some other places. I didn't go. Although, I bet the people watching was off the charts that night!

kafromet
kafromet

@Myrna.Minkoff-Katz@kafromet This article doesn't reference that article, it specifically calls out the Zoli's Facebook page and says "more than 70 people weighed in on the first-night fiasco" and "twice as many comments from customers who thought Jerrier could do no wrong."

 Neither of those are correct.

jharris214
jharris214

@doofUSA I'd like to say the same doof, I really would, but no other part of town have I had so many instances where they were out of particular items or where the service was just slow.  That's not to say everyone has been guilty.  I've had great service at Ten Bells, Boulevardier, Nova and such.  However some of the others it's been poor, and it wasn't when the place was slammed.   Hell, even last year during the Bastille Day party, I waited in a line for 30 minutes only to then discover that they ran out of food.  The event still wasn't even at its half way point.  To me, that's just incompentent. Now granted, I've never had a bad meal in Oak Cliff. Everything has been delicious, but that doesn't make up for poor service.   

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

@kafromet The Pegasus article includes a photo of a sign on the the door that read: "Sold out, sorry & thanks."  How sensitive...

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

@joe.tone Who the hell knows?  But I was pissed.  I haven't been back, but maybe I should check it out today.  If I do, I'll report back.

Now Trending

From the Vault

 

Loading...