WEST OCEAN CITY — One of the difficulties many restaurants encounter after their grand opening is that running a restaurant is hard and it stays that way for quite some time. The business is demanding on both the staff and the owner, requiring long hours, dedication and tight controls.
Would-be restaurateurs who don’t have the time and energy required to run a place profitably soon find out that no matter how good their food is, patron satisfaction is only a small — though obviously critical — part of the restaurant business.
Canan Murat knows how demanding the restaurant business can be. She has worked with or for various family members helping to run restaurants since before she started college. Just as with any other task you perform over and over again, running a restaurant soon became second nature to her.
The less a person has to stop to figure out how to solve a problem, the more time and energy he or she has to innovate and critically review operations. Once you’re good enough to be successful in the restaurant business, every day you hone your skills that much more. Every day is an opportunity to improve.
Which is why Four Season Pizza is already opening its second area store. After success with the restaurant in Willards, Murat took advantage of the opportunity presented when the space next to the Liquor Mart came available.
Although it is a full service pizzeria, offering everything that one entails, she has developed a menu for people who know they are hungry but aren’t sure what they want for lunch or dinner. Four Seasons Pizza’s offerings are extensive enough to satisfy nearly any craving, even if you aren’t sure what that craving is.
Given that the restaurant has only been open for a few weeks, Murat said, it is gratifying how many of the different dishes have proved to be popular. It speaks as much to her understanding of how to run a restaurant as it does to the time and effort put into developing recipes that make each meal unique while sustaining the kind of consistency that is critical for cultivating return business.
On top of that, the location is as convenient for takeout as it is for dining in. Four Seasons Pizza is on Route 50 West, which means people leaving the beach can place an order when they get in their car and be able to have it coming out of the oven as they pull into the parking lot.
Non-pizzeria menu items such as gyros, burgers and specialty sandwiches served on rustic rolls round out the restaurant, but Murat understands that having “pizza” in the restaurant’s name holds her and her staff to a higher standard where Stromboli, calzone and, of course, pizzas are concerned. It is a challenge they rise to each day.
The dough is made on the premises. The blends of cheese they use were developed in accordance with a particular flavor and consistency in mind. But what separates Four Seasons Pizza from other places is that price consistency is as important to them as quality consistency.
As they built their menu they did it with an eye toward keeping the guesswork out of what dinner is going to cost.
As anyone who has ever placed a delivery order knows, it is a little frustrating to have to remember to ask which items are on special on which day. Buying a pizza shouldn’t be as fraught with pricing questions as buying a car. Prices, they believe, should be fair and consistent.
So, for example, if you want two medium pizzas on a Tuesday afternoon or a Friday night, it will cost $13.99.
There is plenty of room in the new space for patrons to have their meals in comfort, should they decide to dine in. Even so, Four Seasons Pizza is perfectly happy to deliver any of the items on the menu as well, making them one of the few places that will bring out, say, a large pie, a turkey club, a spicy Buffalo chicken wrap, and some drinks.
The most important lesson any restaurateur can learn is that given the appropriate attention to detail and commitment to keeping the correct ingredients on hand, it is possible to do everything well. It’s an attitude Murat has been cultivating most of her life.
Four Seasons Pizza
12611 Ocean Gateway, West O.C.
Hours: Sunday-Thursday 10 a.m.-11 p.m.; Friday-Saturday 10 a.m.-Midnight