Brickhouse Frozen Products LLC is pretty happy these days with how its frozen pizza business is doing. The company's handmade 12-inch Jonny B’s Frozen Pizza is finding a booming market in North Dakota, one that Tom Schultz, company president, wants to expand into other states.
“It’s a name we kind of want to keep growing,” Schultz said.
The business is owned by Tom, Thomas E. and Becky Schultz and Jon, Jill and Scott Beyer and began producing frozen pizzas in 2018. Tom Schultz said they initially started making frozen pizzas at Jonny B’s Brickhouse in downtown Jamestown as a way to give employees work to do in the afternoon during a time when the restaurant specializing in wood-fired pizza wasn’t busy. The frozen pizzas were made and sold out of the restaurant for about a year, he said.
“The response was awesome,” Schultz said.
So they contacted the North Dakota Department of Agriculture to see what they needed to do for resale in locations outside of the restaurant. In June 2018, they started selling Jonny B’s Frozen Pizza at small-town bars, grocery stores and gas stations and with a strong response, they decided to expand.
“We just needed a bigger facility,” Schultz said. “We were only able to produce about 400 pizzas a week at the restaurant.”
In December 2018, Brickhouse Frozen Products opened in 8151 36th St. SE in a building owned by the Schultz family that is also home to four of their other businesses.
“We had this space available here under the office, converted it to a production facility,” Schultz said.
He said the move for the frozen pizza production was "huge."
“We were able to expand substantially and we still have a lot more room to expand," he said.
Brickhouse Frozen Products can turn out 2,500 pizzas per day if needed, he said. Right now, it’s selling about 2,500 a week, he said.
“We’re very happy,” he said. “Very happy with the public’s support.”
Brickhouse Frozen Products now sells its pizzas in grocery stores, bars and gas stations in a large area of North Dakota.
The business, a Pride of Dakota member, also recently became the fourth North Dakota business to participate in the Cooperative Interstate Shipment Program, which allows the company to ship products across state lines under the North Dakota Meat and Poultry Inspection Program.
“The purpose of doing that was so we could look at some distribution with an actual distributor,” Schultz said. “Currently we do all our own distribution and I’d like to get to the point where we still do our own distribution in the areas we want but then be able to work with a distributor on these areas that are outside of our territory.”
That includes western North Dakota, Minnesota and South Dakota, he said.
He said with the facility in place it's now a matter of getting sales to where they want them to be. It’s also possible down the road they may build another facility with increasing demand, he said.
Jonny B’s Frozen Pizza has been popular with groups for fundraising, Schultz said. That is one way the business gets the word out about its pizzas. People will buy pizzas to support youth, he noted, then continue buying them once they’ve tried them.
What’s unique about Jonny B’s Frozen Pizza, Schultz said, is that they use a live dough for the crust.
“Most frozen pizza on the market, it is a par-baked crust which means it’s partially baked, it kills the dough, doesn't allow the dough to rise,” he said. But the Brickhouse Frozen Products pizzas have a restaurant-style crust, a live dough that rises in the oven when it’s baked.
“The product’s been fantastic for us, we love it,” he said, “and as far as the toppings and stuff ... the products we use they’re not cheap, the higher end of everything you can buy.”
Schultz said people would see the pizza and think the price was a little high, but once they tried it they liked it.
“It’s worked out just fine,” he said. “That’s what we found out,” that people will pay for quality, he said.
“Even if we sell less … we’d rather have it that the people love what they’re actually eating,” said Becky Schultz, Tom's mother and secretary-treasurer of Brickhouse Frozen Products.
Brickhouse Frozen Products produces nine kinds of pizza. The top seller is three-meat, Tom Schultz, said accounting for 25% of their sales last year. Most popular beyond that are pepperoni, beer cheese bacon jalapeno and Chicken Bacon Ranchfredo.
“The taco is one of our newest ones and it is fantastic,” he said.
They are working on other flavors, he said. Schultz said extensive testing and taste-testing occur before any new pizza variety is sold.
“Most of our sauces are multiple products put together,” Tom Schultz said. “They’re basically a homemade sauce like you would make at home. That’s kind of our longest process is figuring out the sauce.”
Brickhouse Frozen Products employs 20 full- and part-time people, Schultz said. Employees work four days a week with a three-day weekend. Becky said they are flexible with employees who may need to come in a little later or leave a little earlier because of child care issues.
Being able to provide jobs in Jamestown was also important, Schultz said.
“... whether we make money or not, even if we can at least break even we’re employing people in the community,” he said. “And that’s kind of been one of our main goals. … we don’t want to lose money, your goal is always to make money, but at the end of the day it comes down to, it was the same with the restaurant, at least we’re helping our community by providing places for people to work.”