It’s been almost a year since Ben Roberts opened Pizza Supreme Being, a highly regarded pizzeria in downtown Sac serving whole pies, slices and squares for dine-in and takeout. A few weeks ago, he switched to a tight new model, selling whole pies to go (no slices, no squares) and limiting production to just 45 pies a day. We caught up with Roberts on Friday afternoon while he was answering phones and taking orders.
What was it like to change your business model?
Because we serve pizza, it was pretty painless. I was already paying attention to what was happening in Italy and was making my life decisions based on that. When restaurants had to go down to 50 percent occupancy, we decided to go down to zero percent. That’s when we switched to whole pies. To eliminate crowds, we got rid of slices and squares.
How does it work?
You call in to order, and we give you a time to pick up. We don’t allow anyone to walk up and order. If you walk up when somebody is picking up an order, we’ll politely ask you to leave. We want to give that person their individual space.
Why 45 pizzas a day?
I figured out 45 is what I need to keep the lights on. I didn’t want to get greedy. I had to lay off three people; I still have two full time. I need to make sure the people who are employed here can get paid, but I want my restaurant peers to be able to make money, too. I never want to get to the point where people feel they have to keep us afloat. I want to make sure we’re an essential business and not pulling people out of their comfort zone in order to support us.
How long does it take you to sell all 45 pizzas?
It all depends. Today … what time is it now? It’s 1 o’clock. We still have six pizzas left. On Wednesday, we didn’t sell out until 8 p.m. Other days, we’ve sold out at 10:30 a.m.
What’s a typical day like for you now?
It’s a rollercoaster. Each day is different. Each hour is different. I’d worked in catering before, so I’m pretty good at coming up with things off the cuff. We’re evolving daily.
How do you think about the future?
I’m not going to bring any extra product in, in case we do full lockdown. I’m fully anticipating a full lockdown, where we can’t even come to work, so we keep our ingredients as sparse as possible.
How are you feeling emotionally about the situation we’re all in?
I worry for humanity. Sometimes, my anxiety takes over. I’m just going day by day. I have hope that everyone who’s had to close their restaurant will be able to get them back open. I love going out to eat. I miss going to Jim’s Good Food. I miss going to Sa Ra Bang [a Koran restaurant off Watt Avenue]. I miss seeing my hospitality peers face to face.
During the pandemic, Pizza Supreme Being is open for pickup by preorder only Tuesday–Saturday. Every day, 45 whole pizzas will be sold: Options are cheese, pepperoni, Hawaiian and vegan cheese, no special orders. Beer and wine also available to go. (916) 917-5559; 1425 14th St.; pizzasupremebeing.com