Popular pizza places in Ponsonby and CBD

5:00 AM Saturday October 10, 2015 Colin Taylor

Exterior view of the original il buco pizza restaurant at 113 Ponsonby Rd, Auckland

A well-known pizza brand with outlets in Ponsonby and in Vulcan Lane in the Auckland CBD within leased premises has been placed on the market.

“il buco is Italian for ‘hole in the wall’,” says Leah La Hood of Bayleys who, with colleague Meredith Graham, is jointly marketing the two il buco outlets for sale as one package via expressions of interest with a deadline date of November 11.

La Hood says il buco was established at 113 Ponsonby Rd 13 years ago in 2002 and was the first pizza restaurant to offer authentic Roman pizza al taglio or pizza by the slice in New Zealand.

The restaurant runs a seven day operation opening from 7.30 am to 9 pm with busy take away and sit down eatery seating up to 18 customers outside. The business currently pays annual rent of $18,720 plus operating expenses and GST.

The il buco 35C Vulcan Lane store was opened in 2014 and has been run as a weekday venue for lunches only. “The venue is fully licensed and seats 26 patrons inside and out,” says La Hood. “This means there is opportunity for a buyer to open in the mornings, into evenings and on weekends too in this high pedestrian traffic area.” The annual rent for the Vulcan Lane property is $45,000 per annum plus operating expenses and GST.

“Both locations have separate leases in place until 2023, on the basis that all rights of renewal are exercised,” says La Hood.

Daily food preparation work is undertaken in Ponsonby with fresh pizza delivered each morning to Vulcan Lane in an il buco branded VW Caddy.

“The two venues run complementary operations – with the CBD branch serving casual corporate clientele during the lunch period; and il buco Ponsonby is very much a neighbourhood all day dining establishment drawing its customer base from the immediate Ponsonby, Grey Lynn, Freemans and Herne Bay localities,” La Hood says.

Nekoda Croft, chef at Il Buco, making pizzas.jpg

Nekoda Croft, chef at il buco Ponsonby creating a pizza. 

“The nature of this dual operation could potentially allow a new owner to run a labour-efficient split-shift staffing model for the kitchen and front of house staff, or working hands-on in a front of house management position.”

She says pizza is part-made in advance and finished off in a format that allows stock levels to be kept at an optimum.

“Access to an evening operation allows for the transfer of any surplus food items prepared but not sold during the lunch service. This maximises production efficiency while minimising waste. The business also has a ‘zero carbon rating’ with sustainable business practice charity Conscious Consumers.”

Graham says the Vulcan Lane il buco location has recently undertaken successful initial market research on the potential of increasing its out-catering sales – with a view to replicating the success of the Ponsonby branch’s out-catering service.

With a substantial selection of vegetarian pizzas, pastas, and vegetable ingredient based soups, il buco is a member of the New Zealand Vegan Society resulting in a strong vegan and vegetarian following.

Graham says il buco has won multiple awards over the years from local and international media including Concrete Playground, Viva and Metro magazines in a range of different categories ranging from Best Pizza through to Cheap Eats.

La Hood says il buco’s crispy based Roman-styled pizza is baked in 600 mm by 400 mm rectangular trays with the format allowing for a more consistent spread of toppings and the precise cutting of pieces.

Business founder and owner Jonny Rudduck, who is selling up the two pizza powerhouses to pursue his new dream of establishing an heirloom fruit orchard in Northland, says there are three banned words within il buco’s ethos – “chicken, pineapple and microwave.”

“I love seeing customers sit down, relax and eat in at il buco because pizza tastes best straight out of the oven. Saying that, a customer base spanning the breadth of Auckland allows us to serve our pizza hot and ready to eat, or half cooked ready to heat up in less than five minutes at home or the office.  We’ve even flown a customer’s pizza to Dunedin for a birthday function,” Rudduck says. 

Leah La Hood.jpg

Leah La Hood of Bayleys.