Juan Ramos loves to hear his computer go “Ding!” That means a pizza order has just come in.
Online ordering, in fact, is the only way people can get their hands on one of Mr. Ramos’ pies. No phone orders. There isn’t even a phone inside the Pizza Online Co. shop in Goleta. And even if customers walk in off the street, they’re directed to the kiosk by the front door that’s outfitted with a brand-new iPad Pro to order their pizzas.
“That’s been my idea — just to be 100 percent online,” says Mr. Ramos, 55, who’s been in the restaurant business since age 15, both in his native Mexico and, mostly, in San Luis Obispo and Northern Santa Barbara counties. The Lompoc resident actually left the culinary industry a decade ago — “I was tired,” he admits — and went back to school to obtain a degree as a computer technician. His new venture “is a way for me to put together my two passions: food and technology.”
The online-only model translates to a streamlined work force, and that has two primary benefits, according to Mr. Ramos: “For me to save money on labor and to pass on those savings to my customers.”
Prices at Pizza Online Co., where Mr. Ramos is a one-man operation making the pizzas, are, indeed, competitive. Two-topping pizzas go for $6.99 for a 12-inch small, $8.99 for a 14-inch large and $10.99 for a 16-inch extra large. A two-topping, 10-inch calzone version sells for $4.99. And there’s no official menu.
“Customers can order whichever two toppings they want,” says Mr. Ramos, referring to the 32 toppings provided fresh every day, from popular pizza pie pillars — pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms, onions, black olives — to a few that are more unique.
“The pastor has been one of the most popular,” says the owner-chef, adding that what’s usually thought of as a taco stuffing — marinated pork, cilantro, pineapple and guacamole-salsa — “is really good on a pizza.” Same goes for the other protein toppings, like carnitas, chorizo, Italian sausage, grilled chicken and steak, that have been popular since opening day, on Dec. 7.
Pizza sauce options include tomato marinara, of course, as well as pesto, garlic, barbecue, ranch and alfredo. Cheese choices range from mozzarella to blends of fontina, asiago, provolone and Parmesan. Mr. Ramos makes the pizza dough himself, from scratch; customers have a choice of thin or regular crust. (There’s also a gluten-free option he purchases.)
Pizza Online Co., which is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner, also features cold and hot sandwiches for $6 — again, patrons pick the add-ons they want. Salads cost $5, or $6.75 if they include meat. And there are a handful of appetizers, too. Mr. Ramos stocks sodas, although beverage sales are dominated by the boba drinks that his business partner, Sylvia Ayala, makes. The trendy libations, which feature sweet tea, milk and oversized tapioca pearls, are big sellers at Ms. Ayala’s primary business, Woody’s BOBA Drinks, in Santa Maria.
Once customers place their order online atpizzaonlinecompany.com, they come to the Goleta storefront on Calle Real to pick it up.
“I have four barstools inside the store, that’s it — no tables,” says Mr. Ramos. It’s another cost-cutting move and one meant to encourage guests to pick up and go. “Maybe in the future,” he acquiesces, since a few patrons have requested them. Alternatively, delivery is available through Grubhub and DoorDash, which, for a fee, will drive pies all the way to Carpinteria. “Orders are split 50-50” between pickups and deliveries, says the owner.
On opening day, Pizza Online Co. sold five pizzas. Sales are up to 50-plus pizzas a day now — a lot closer to Mr. Ramos’ goal of 200 pies per day.
“I am definitely blessed right now,” he says, admitting that, without doing any advertising, foot traffic to date has exceeded his expectations.
Mr. Ramos believes strongly in the simplicity and efficiency of his business model, which he feels has plenty of franchise opportunity. And that’s keeping his aspirations a lot loftier than just 200 pizzas a day.
“I was dreaming the other day that Amazon called me to say, ‘We want to buy your concept,’ ” he quips. “And then we can just do deliveries with drones!”
Pizza Online Co., 5756 Calle Real, Goleta, is open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 8:30p.m.
Friday and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday. To place an order, go to pizzaonlinecompany.com.