Affable Canadian Shaun Hanna is one crafty fella. Over a year ago, toying with the idea of opening a pizza shop in Nanjing, he figured what better way to acquire the necessary knowledge than to write his thesis on the subject of opening a restaurant franchise chain?
Now, as we enter Nanjing’s autumn, the mother ship of the chain is now a reality, located alongside the domineering Yingtian Da Jie overhead expressway, not far from the positively over powering, new Golden Eagle development in Hexi, while two more Mai Pizza could also be opening up, in different parts of the city, by year end.
The pizza is excellent, no question, up there with the tried and tested best that Nanjing has to offer elsewhere, although Hanna himself is also quick to acknowledge that on account of local tastes, he is unlikely to be producing much pizza with that slightly burnt crust that foreigners love so much.
For The Nanjinger, the sandwiches are the absolute standout. For let’s face it; until now, a good sandwich was nigh on impossible in Nanjing (a certain German bakery sometimes excepting). At Mai Pizza, the humble but classic clubhouse sandwich, a staple on many a hotel room-service menu in China, has never had it so good. And yes, that’s Canadian-style gravy in the photo above. There then come the BLT and various flat bread options, from which we sampled a chicken version that was truly impossible to fault.
Hanna also had a year to get the pizza dough right, and that meant experimenting with different types of flour. Having eventually found one to meet his exacting standards, the next challenge was the minimum order amount; two tons to be exact. Yet, the canny upstart has done well, having got through half of this in the couple of months since opening.
Any self respecting thesis examining a food delivery service would no doubt be adamant that price entry levels must be extremely competitive. Mai Pizza hits the spot so sweetly one wonders how on earth they turn a profit.
Said thesis would also highly recommend an APP as the best online way to touch its clients. Hanna has followed suit, with both an Android and iOS version that is, however, something of a work in progress.
MAI PIZZA is located at 839-6 Yingtian Da Jie, Jianye District 南京建邺区应天大街839-6. Tel: 13913993477. A second location is slated to open on 1st October in Pukou District’s Qiaobei, at Unit 112, Dept. 8, Business Block 16, Tianrun City, 5 Tianhua Nan Lu 浦口区天华南路5号天润城第十六街区商业08幢112室.