The Pizza Insider: Behind the Pizza Peel: RC Gallegos

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Thursday, December 3, 2015

Behind the Pizza Peel: RC Gallegos

The goal of the Behind the Pizza Peel series is to reveal the warm--and sometimes wild--personalities that create America's favorite food on a daily basis.

Who are the people behind the pizzas, and what made them choose a pizza peel over a briefcase? What's their inspiration and what keeps them going? We find out in this ongoing series.

Installment #8

Behind the Pizza Peel: RC Gallegos

RC's NYC Pizza Texas
RC Gallegos

Pizzeria: RC's NYC Pizza & Pasta, Kingwood and The Woodlands, Texas
Age: 46

Years in Pizza Biz: 12.5

Favorite Hobby outside of Pizza: family

The Pizza Insider: Why did you choose to go into the pizza business?  

RC Gallegos: I always made pizzas growing up in Texas because you really couldn't find good pizza back in the day. So me and my friends would make pizzas at home. We didn't have all of the modern bells and whistles and training, but we were doing our own little thing with it. So I always had that passion of wanting a better pizza, but never thought I'd have a restaurant. 

So when the opportunity presented itself and I was wanting to open a restaurant, being in Texas, I was thinking either pizza (because that's the only food I've ever cooked in a restaurant) or barbecue because barbecue is so popular in Texas (but I had never cooked barbecue before). 

I chose pizza.
When I opened, I thought my pizza was good. One of my buddies from New Jersey came over to support me and try my pizza. He told me it was horrible. He said I'd be shut down in four months. 

I thought he was joking, but he said, "No, I'm serious; go to New York and tell me if this is the best you think you can do." So I took his advice and that's where my story really begins.

The Pizza Insider: Looking back on your original goals, how do they match, or differ from, where you are today?  

RC Gallegos: I was a bit delusional in the beginning. When we first opened, I thought that within five years we'd have three locations, selling franchises, etc. That was the goal for the company. We're a completely different place today. That's still our pipe dream, but reality sets in and there's numbers to account for and stumbling blocks that you run into. And now with social media, everything is completely different. Twelve and a half years later we still have direction, but our guests and their experiences and our employees are really the driving force of where we are today.

The Pizza Insider: Do you have a favorite memory associated with pizza?  

RC Gallegos: Definitely those old high school memories of making pizza at home with my best friend. Just me and him on a Friday night making pizza and talking about whatever teenage kids talk about.

The Pizza Insider: When you eat at other pizzerias, what type of pizza do you order and why? 

RC Gallegos: When I go to other pizzerias I look at everything from crumb, toppings, marketing, menu layout, etc. There's so much to learn from other pizzerias.

The Pizza Insider: Who are your role models or mentors?  

RC Gallegos: Tony Gemignani. It's unbelievable what he can do with pizza and the vision he has. I started as a New York-style pizza shop, but now I've been able to expand and offer so much more  with a thin and crispy, deep dish, Neapolitan, etc. You can get a larger foothold on your market by offering a little bit of variety. Of course, in Texas, the all-meat pizza is still the most popular by far.

The Pizza Insider: In your opinion, what separates a good pizza maker from a great pizza maker?  

RC Gallegos: Passion. Even my kid who's 11 makes pizza at the restaurant. It's good, but he's not at the level of a great pizza maker yet. It's not that perfect balance--the evenness of the dough; the right amount of crust on the edge; the balance of the sauce to dough to cheese to toppings ratio. To me, that's what differentiates and defines a great pizzaiolo from a good pizzaiolo; they have that passion to pay attention to the minute details. 

RC Gallegos

The Pizza Insider: What’s the best advice you ever received?  

RC Gallegos: If you're going to do this, don't waver. Stick to your guns and don't keep changing your concept.

The Pizza Insider: Do you have any words of wisdom for new pizzeria operators?  

RC Gallegos: Don't be afraid to ask for help and don't turn help away. It's a huge industry and we all have our own niche. So many people reached out to offer me help; they've all been where I've been. I've even helped a direct competitor around the corner from me. Don't be so egocentric to think that you're the best and could never need advice or help.

The Pizza Insider: If someone wrote a book about your life, what would it be called?  

RC Gallegos: Against All Odds

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