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Slam Dunk Pizza, Ukiah

“Sports themed pizzeria scores loan”

Slam Dunk Pizza is a sports-themed pizza restaurant in Ukiah, California. Owners, Matt and Stephanie Dunken, both have a background in pizza business, but this is the first business they have owned themselves. Their restaurant offers a variety of toppings as well as “house specialty” pizzas, burgers, beer, and soft drinks. Slam Dunk Pizzas are available for pick up, delivery, or for onsite consumption, where patrons can also view sports on TV and enjoy arcade games. Slam Dunk Pizza also welcomes groups to hold events in either of its two party rooms.

Matt and Stephanie were confident they could run a pizza business successfully, but they needed help with the startup process. In particular, they needed assistance refining their idea and applying for financing. They presented their idea to their Mendocino SBDC advisor, Steve O’Mara, who thought they had a lot of potential, but recognized they would need a convincing business plan if they were to obtain bank financing. He also wanted to make sure they were prepared to overcome all the hurdles that first-time business owners can face in the startup process.

Steve O’Mara worked with the Dunkens to fine tune their ideas and present them in a detailed business plan that would help them persuade a bank to back their startup. He gave the Dunkens an example of West Company’s “Business Plan Workbook,” and advised them on each step of the plan, including renovation and equipment, staffing, marketing, and menu planning. The Dunkens found a location for their restaurant, and, with Steve’s help, finished their business plan in April of 2013. They also found some private investors interested in helping to back the project.

Matt and Stephanie Dunken were able to obtain a loan from Savings Bank of Mendocino County and an additional loan from private investors. They hired 8 employees and opened Slam Dunk Pizza in October of 2013. They held a pre-opening thank-you party in September which helped generate buzz for the restaurant, and they have successfully used social media to generate interest in the restaurant and its offerings. They also sponsor local sports teams, which ties in nicely with the sporting theme of Slam Dunk Pizza, and helps spread word about the restaurant.

“[Mendocino SBDC] always had time for us, never rushed us, and their knowledge of opening a business was fantastic. They helped us put our business plan together from the first word to the last.”

Slam Dunk Pizza
CEO: Matt and Stephanie Dunken
Ukiah, CA