Brie Chrisenberry and her husband Mike founded Fine Folk Pizza in Fort Myers, FL after running Mike’s family’s pizzeria Denunzio’s in Sea Isle City, NJ. Their thin crust NY style pizza is a huge hit and they’ve developed a strong local following in a short time thanks to their dedication to quality and community.
How did you get into the pizza industry?
I was going to school to work in convention services. I met a boy… he promised me free pizza and world adventures.
Why pizza and not some other (inferior) food?
Pizza has truly become such a part of my life; I can’t imagine where I would be or what I would be eating if I didn’t have pizza. It’s seriously, such awesome food. What other meal can you have a gazillion different ways and it has a completely different flavor profile each time?
What kind of pizza do you make at Fine Folk Pizza and why did you go with that style?
We offer a NY style thin crust. Ft. Myers is behind on the foodie scene, most of the restaurants/pizzerias in the area are chains. We saw a huge need for a quality pie here. We have a huge influx of Snowbirds (our seasonal residents that live down here for the winter) from up North NY, NJ, MA, and CT. Daily, I get people in from up North who have been looking for something that reminds them of home, and we fulfill that while converting new guests to our pizza as well.
What are the other pizza options in Fort Myers, FL?
Mostly chains, a few mom and pop. Chicago style is pretty popular down here too.
What has been the biggest eye-opener in terms of running your business?There are so many! The biggest is that I have more impact on peoples lives than I could have ever imagined. My crew relies on me for rent, food, bills, if I fail to bring in sales it affects my whole team not just my bottom line. There is no such thing as a “sick” day.
Secondly, you need a mentor. You ’ll be twice as successful if you have someone in your corner, to toss ideas around, ask for advice, and keep you accountable. I found this out slowly and painfully. I had no idea when we started how many resources that were out there and so many for free!
You have a lot of pride in your business, but is there anything, in particular, you know you can do better as an owner/operator?
You can always work on being a better communicator. I feel that communication with my crew, vendors and guests, could always be better. It’s a daily challenge for me.
What’s next for Fine Folk Pizza?
We always joke that it’s world pizza domination (We’re half serious.) An expansion is on the horizon.
*This post is part of a month-long series featuring women in the pizza industry in honor of Women’s History Month!