Pot & Pizza: A Perfect Marriage

It’s an idea too good to have gone unrealized: pot and pizza, delivered together.

This spring, Marie Jane’s Cannabis Connection became the first cannabis dispensary in the country to add in-house pizza to its delivery menu featuring recipes developed by Ed Barbeau, owner of Pisano’s Wood Fired Pizza, which was rated best pizza in Oregon by USA Today in 2019.

“My No. 1 priority is to supply all the ingredients customers need to make memorable moments, even if the memories of those moments are a little fuzzy,” said Marie Jane’s owner Christina Jancila. “Good pizza is nice, but not memorable. Our goal was to come out of the gate offering the best pizza in town. With Ed’s help, we are doing exactly that.”

The pizza menu can be found online and once a customer decides on a food order, they must call the dispensary and speak to a budtender to complete the transaction. Everything available in the dispensary is available for delivery. Oregon laws regulating cannabis delivery are strictly enforced. Customers must be 21 or older and deliveries are restricted to residential locations. Dorms and hotels are not permitted, but pick-up orders are also available at the dispensary.

Jancila spoke with Marijuana Venture about the ground-breaking retail shop.

 

Marijuana Venture: How long had you been working on and developing the idea of combining cannabis delivery and pizza delivery?

 

Christina Jancila: The implementation of pot and pizza delivery was the goal from the beginning. In 2016-2017, when we first opened Marie Jane’s, it was during Oregon’s “green rush” and retailers were popping up all over the place. We knew from the start that we had to distinguish ourselves from other cookie-cutter cannabis retailers to be competitive in a crowded market.

To do that we decided to create our own subset market by offering goods and services that other cannabis retailers do not. Corvallis has a population of 60,000 people with 12 cannabis retailers competing for the same dollar. The price and quality of cannabis are comparable across the board and many retailers are vertically integrated. Without our own grow, trying to compete on price alone is a poor strategy. We wanted to add value with something new and unique. We wanted to offer people the key ingredients for memorable moments. And we know from the smiles on people’s faces when we deliver a Munchie Lovers pizza and eighth of Tahoe OG that we did just that. Who doesn’t smile at the thought of pot and pizza? Someone could be having a horrible day and when we show up at their door, with two of the world’s greatest pleasures in hand, it’s impossible for them not to feel better.

 

MV: Did being in a college town like Corvallis make it an ideal location for doing this?

CJ: In terms of demographics, being in a college town is definitely a plus, but the concept of pot and pizza has a very broad appeal. We’re getting calls from people in Portland asking if we can deliver to them.

The real key to success is great pizza, because, while not everyone loves or uses marijuana, the love of good pizza is universal. So pizza lovers are our primary demographic with cannabis connoisseurs being our secondary demographic. Fortunately, there is a lot of overlap in those two demographics, but we are quickly developing a dedicated pizza-only set of customers and that’s just fine with us.

 

MV: Are the pizzas baked on-site? Did this complicate matters at all with the Oregon Liquor Control Commission or any other regulatory agencies?

 
CJ: When people hear about pot and pizza delivery, the first question they typically ask is “Is the pizza made with pot?” The answer is, of course, is “no.” OLCC regulations prohibit this. However, we are in discussions with processors about developing products such as THC-infused pepper flakes, parmesan cheese, ranch dressing and hot sauce that can be purchased by the customer and then added to the pizza at the time of consumption.

The pizza is not made with cannabis, nor is it baked in the store. We did not want Marie Jane’s Cannabis Connection to turn into Marie Jane’s Pizza Parlor. Besides, doing so would have complicated things with the OLCC and would have likely required shutting the dispensary down during construction. Instead, we converted a separate location about 30 feet away into a commercial kitchen which we use to make the pizza. The OLCC requires that marijuana delivery drivers make no unplanned or unnecessary deviations in their route once the marijuana is in the vehicle, therefore, the pizza is walked over to the store where the driver takes the pizza and marijuana product to make the delivery.

From the time the pizza comes out of the oven, to the time the drivers on the way to the customer takes less than 90 seconds. The most complicated part of the whole venture is not with the OLCC, but with the time, money and permits required to convert a warehouse into a commercial kitchen. That was a headache and took more time than we would have liked, but now we have a beautiful kitchen that isn’t a disruption to business or a turn off to customers who come in just looking for pot. Currently, remodeling is underway to expand the floor space in the shop to accommodate pizza sales and make delivery and pickup orders even more efficient.

MV: It’s probably too early to say, but do you envision that pizza sales could eventually make up a significant portion of your revenue? Or maybe even surpass cannabis?

CJ: Originally, we were not planning to debut pot and pizza delivery until this year’s 4/20 celebration, but the COVID-19 pandemic not only ruined those plans but created a need we were uniquely qualified to fill, so we pushed to open sooner than anticipated. As such, we’ve done very little advertising so far and have been growing through word of mouth. We have only been offering pot and pizza delivery over the last few weeks, but it’s already clear pizza is going to be a significant part of our revenue moving forward.

The average sale has grown and we anticipate this number to rise as we start marketing our products and services this summer. Our goal with the pizza was to make a product that can stand on its own, and by bringing in award-winning executive chef Ed Barbeau to develop our menu and recipes, we have created a pizza that will beat the quality of any pizza in town.

It’s no secret that cannabis makes people hungry. Pot and pizza is a perfect marriage, and now instead of our customers having to look elsewhere to satisfy their munchies, we make it more convenient for them. This creates an additional revenue source that would have otherwise gone to another food establishment. Pizza sales will eventually make up a significant portion of our revenue, but the aim is not to compete with cannabis sales but instead complement our marijuana products.

We anticipate that the unique market we have created with pot and pizza delivery will boost cannabis sales going forward, but since this is something that has never been done before, it’s hard to predict if pizza sales will outpace cannabis.

 

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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