When you think of pizza, you think of friends, parties, and everyone grabbing for the pie if you think like an ad guy. Even if you’re not in advertising, eating pizza is an American tradition, bringing families and friends together for good times and fun memories.
It’s no wonder then, that the Goldberg family opened in Manhattan Beach the summer of 2008 and never looked back. Fresh Brothers Pizza husband and wife team, Adam and Debbie Goldberg, along with Adam’s brother, Michael, and the Goldberg father, who handles their financial operations/headquarters in Chicago, operate this hugely successful pizzeria.
But not just any pizza. Chicago pizza. Gluten-free pizza. Something that everyone can enjoy. Even those with food allergies. Debbie explained they chose to implement a gluten-free training program developed by the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness for their staff to teach what it is, why and how some people react.
Fresh Brothers Pizza now takes special precautions to prevent dust particles and airborne gluten in the cooler. This has allowed many children and families to enjoy a pizza meal together they might never have been able to before.
The Goldbergs use the highest grade cheese, and the best CA tomatoes for their sauce in the special herb mix recipe they received from Scott, another Chicago-based Goldberg brother who has run his successful, Miller’s Pizza, for more than 20 years in Gary, Indiana.
“We haven’t changed a thing from what my brother’s guy has created,” Adam proudly shared. “We also use the best meat products. Our sausage comes from a meat packing plant in Chicago; we make our dough fresh daily, and make hundreds of pizzas.”
Rodeo Realty Realtor, Carmen Mormino, said, “(Fresh Brothers Pizza) tastes like Chicago pizza. Everything is nice and fresh. It doesn’t taste like every other California pizza. And me being a Chicago boy, I should know.”
Both Adam and Debbie have a professional background in TV production which they feel prepared them for the restaurant business even though they hadn’t worked in the food business since they were young. Adam said, “We knew in three months whether we’d make it or not. Coming from the entertainment industry, we knew this either hits or it doesn’t.”
Adam knows of which he speaks, having produced four hit MTV shows, Dismissed, Next, Exposed, and in his words, “the almighty” Date My Mom. He says the last five years in the business financed the launch of Fresh Brothers Pizza when he quit the production business cold turkey.
“I opened up my garage, called everyone I knew and said take what you want, get it (all his production equipment) out of here.” This all or nothing attitude has served him well in helping make the company a success.
Debbie’s prior TV background isn’t too shabby either having produced Television programming for Discovery and Learning Channel, among others. Debbie’s mentor and former boss, Executive Producer and Owner, Pie Town, Tara Sandler, had this to say about Debbie’s unusual decision to quit the TV business and start a pizza company.
“Debbie’s one of the best producers I’ve ever worked with and I knew if she was embarking on a new career, she was going to be proactive, think of different ways to promote the business, take advantage of social media and look at her business similar to producing a TV show.”
Sandler added, “She’s a really great person, fun to work with and that is really important. You always want to be laughing with someone in the trenches. Debbie is creative and smart. Basically a very nice person whom you really want to spend time with, which is why I think she’s so successful.”
As the female partner/mother who manages all their social media, traditional marketing and kid’s birthday parties, Debbie smiling, revealed her nickname at her children’s school is “Mrs. Pizza.” Needless to say, her twins are very popular there.
Debbie’s motto is, “Life is too short not to go without eating pizza.” She said, “We love kids and our food appeals to moms. Our fresh kid’s special includes five vegetables crushed into the sauce and only a few kids have caught onto it.”
Understanding a night out with children requires entertainment to keep them occupied based on their personal experience raising little children, children’s programming is played non-stop on two TVs in every store (Calabasas has 20 plasma screens.) Children are also given pizza dough to play with while adults enjoy a night out.
This focus on children has made their private pizza birthday parties a huge hit, too. Local South Bay resident, Kathryn Robinson, recently threw a Fresh Brothers Pizza party for her son’s 5th birthday with 30 other five-year-olds.
“I wanted to try something new, different and fun,” she said. “At five, it’s neat to see him make something himself and eat it. Kids ate stuff their parents normally wouldn’t be able to get them to eat.”
Each birthday party includes children being given stickers to stick on pizza boxes; poking holes in pizza crust; making their own pizza crust, and decorating their own pizza and cupcake with frosting, M & M’s and gummy bears. Typically, parents enjoy the party because every child eats their own pizza while the adults snack on the delicious wings and salads.
“So fun. He LOVED it and didn’t want to leave,” Robinson added excitedly. “He said it was the best birthday he’s ever had.” Tyler enthusiastically chimed in the background, “It was awesome!”
The Goldberg’s Fresh Brother Pizza stores are now known all over the region for their fresh chopped salads and traditional 100-percent original Chicago pies with stores in Manhattan Beach, Redondo Beach, Marina Del Rey, Westlake Village, Calabasas, and one opening in Beverly Hills in May.
“I chose Manhattan Beach to open our first store because I didn’t want to drive on a freeway to work,” Adam said with a touch of irony. “Now I’m constantly on the road driving our Ford 350 Cargo van between all five stores.”
He’s not complaining though because now rather than the demanding 18-hour days of TV production, he can spend more time with his family. After much research, soul searching, and analysis before taking the leap of faith to launch Fresh Brothers Pizza, spending more time with family was part of the reason Debbie and he considered starting the business.
All of the Goldberg family plays an integral piece of the pie, so to speak, in the exploding success of their first-time business venture together.
Brother Michael joined the business soon after the Manhattan Beach store launched and currently oversees the day-to-day operations of running the business and their 150+ employees. He and their father ran a very successful trucking business together, where he was responsible for dispatching 500 trucks in the business for sales and operations.
This experience definitely comes into play in his new role in California. Using the financial infrastructure from the family’s trucking business, which was sold before the launch of Fresh Brothers Pizza, their father still plays an integral role in their lives professionally by handling all the financial details of the company with a staff of five.
“Being able to capture (financial) details, grow the business and not have to deal with any financial issues or payroll has played a HUGE part of our success,” said Michael.
As Operations Director, Michael is responsible for “putting together management teams – general managers, food costs, wage percentages, keeping everything in check, dealing with cleanliness of stores, hiring personnel, making sure they’re functioning at the highest level we’ve created for the business -- cleanliness, professionalism, and friendliness.”
Adam on the other hand, thrives on “opening stores, finding locations, dealing with the cities, bringing in contractors and transforming a space into a Fresh Brothers Pizza.” He also does whatever needs to be done by creating new menus, working with food purveyors, research and development, and integrating everything into the stores. As a team, they all are always looking for ways to improve the business.
Fresh Brothers Pizza's clever advertising campaigns are a big part of their business success. The brainchild of Pitts + Pitts Advertising, a referral from a client, local Manhattan Beach grocer, Grow, Adam said, “We looked at his ads and saw his brilliance.”
Creative Director Mike Pitts explained using the pizza itself in ads came from a collective decision to make the advertising fresh and fun because that’s what the product is. “Their pizza is the product of fresh thinking, really delicious and really fun. Pizza stands for fun.”
Strong believers in giving back to the community, the Goldbergs consider this another key to their success. They are all incredibly involved in the community, donating food to churches, temples, youth teams, soccer teams, schools, fundraisers, and more.
There’s no end in sight for the Goldbergs as they set their view on expanding even further, which is remarkable in this down economy. Just goes to show, Americans will always have a need to eat more pizza.
Especially delicious, Chicago-style pizza made with love and passion.