Following the success of his New Edinburgh pizzaria, The Works owner Ion Aimers, is opening up a second ZaZaZa Pizza on Bank and Holmwood—vowing in a recent banner at the construction site to “cure the Glebe of boring pizza.” But despite the declaration, he said he’s not looking for a food fight with any local businesses.
CanCulture: Why do you think ZaZaZa Pizza has been so successful?
Ion Aimers: We have taken a product that has been manipulated by fast food and business who are looking for more profits than quality, and we’ve made our pizzas out of whole foods and put it in a great environment.[. . . ] It’s giving people what they want. The second part of it, which they won’t discover until they come in here, is that we try to set [the restaurant] up like a theatre.
CC: What made you decide on the Glebe as the next location for ZaZaZa?
IA: It seems like it’s reasonably close to our other [ZaZaZa]. The Glebe has also been very good to another concept of mine [The Works] that I opened a few years ago, so it seemed like a natural decision. This location is a little bit further south of the central part of the Glebe, but it is very close to a new and exciting part of the city with Lansdowne Live. So that sure can’t do us any harm.
CC: How do you think the Lansdowne Live project will affect business during its construction?
IA: I think we can stand on our own wherever we put our building. I don’t think a triple ‘A’ location guarantees success. I think great food guarantees success. [. . .] I think any time you make a food from scratch, it’s good food. As for The Lansdowne Live issue, I don’t involve myself in politics. That’s something between the people of the Glebe, the developers, and the retailers. I think the end result will be a very positive one on the amount of traffic. Whether that traffic is good or bad, that’s not for me to comment on.
CC: Are you concerned about the competition surrounding the store?
IA: I’ve never worried about competition. [. . .] We look at everybody as part of a neighbourhood, so I understand they are going to eat at Kettleman’s and Pizza Pizza and that’s great. We just want to try and get our share, and we are happy to see them thriving as business people as well. Plus, it’s a different product. I might throw back a piece of Pizza Pizza or a Kettleman’s bagel once in a while myself, and there is nothing wrong with that.
I should add that I hope Pizza Pizza doesn’t take us as competition either. We’re just neighbourhood neighbours. You don’t look at your neighbours, whose kids go to school with your kids, as competition. You look at them as part of the community.
CC: Are there any plans to expand ZaZaZa beyond the Glebe and New Edinburgh?
IA: I would hope so. I’m very careful not to look to far down the road—walk don’t run—but yeah, I would like to think there is room in some other Ottawa neighbourhoods for us, definitely.
CC: What places are you considering?
IA: It’s not unreasonable to suspect that we will be looking in Centretown Westboro, Gloucester, Ottawa West, and Nepean. I’m not sure we want to go for the suburbs just yet.
—Photos by Yuko Inoue