Nick’s Pizza & Pub: Combining Pizza and Purpose
Nick Sarillo opened the first Nick’s Pizza & Pub in Crystal Lake, IL in 1995 with his dad’s pizza recipe, a great original Chicago thin crust pizza. Ten years later, Sarillo opened his second location in nearby Elgin, and just last year, he opened a third location in the Lincoln Square neighborhood of Chicago.
Since the beginning, Nick’s has had an interest in the community. Yulia Miller, Marketing Coordinator at Nick’s, explained that community involvement is the reason Nick’s got started: “We are in the restaurant business because it provides opportunities to improve the lives of our team and our guests—every day… we improve our guests' lives by welcoming them into our home and providing them a place to connect with their family and friends.”
Surviving in the restaurant industry is a challenge. Sarillo imagined a different way to address this challenge, to combine great food with a great work environment. In 2002, Sarillo and a core group of his team discovered their organizational purpose and articulated “The Nick’s Experience” – “Our dedicated family provides this community an unforgettable place; to connect with your family and friends, to have fun and to feel at home!”
After being around for twenty-three years, it should come as no surprise that Sarillo is known not only for his pizzas, but also for his smart business skills. In 2012, Sarillo published a book on his success in the restaurant industry: A Slice of the Pie: How to Build a Big Little Business.
Like GiftAMeal, Sarillo’s values includes social responsibility. Nick’s pledges to give five percent of annual net proceeds back to the community. To hit that percentage, Nick’s relies heavily on fundraisers.
Miller explains, “Fundraisers, which are created and driven by our guests, help us reach out to the larger community and support organizations and people in need. We believe that is the right thing to do.”
Community members looking for a place to host their fundraising event can book the restaurant on either a Wednesday or a Thursday during business hours. Nick’s just asks that you book the date at least a month in advance, that way there is adequate time for promotion.
Fundraising participants just turn in a flyer, provided by Nick’s, when they order their meal. Then, Nick’s donates twenty-five percent of the proceeds (excluding tax and alcohol) from the net sales of the event to the fundraising cause.
All different sorts of fundraising take place at Nick’s from year to year. They do a lot to benefit national as well as international causes—just this year, they hosted a fundraiser for the damage caused by Hurricanes Irma and Harvey as well as one for No Kid Hungry. Plus, Nick’s is interested in more local fundraising efforts as well. If you scroll through their fundraiser archive, you’ll see several events with proceeds going toward medical bills for various people in the community.
And their community outreach extends even beyond fundraising—they’ve also been a GiftAMeal partner for the last year and a half. With all three of their locations, Nick’s has helped to provide 4,739 meals through GiftAMeal to those in need at Lakeview Pantry in Chicago.
More power to “Pizza on Purpose!”