La Verne Magazine
Spring 1998

"La Verne's Small-Town Businesses"


Creating a Warehouse-Sized Pizza Business

by J.R. Gonsalves
illustration by Stephanie Lesniak

 



At 6 foot 1 inch, with silver grey hair, box-squared glasses and a smile that doesn't quit, Ken Schonfeld finds great success running Warehouse Pizza.

Ken, or Kenny as the majority of people call him, was born in Pomona in 1955. Schonfeld grew up in Claremont, where he attended elementary, junior high and high school, before leaving for San Diego State University. While earning his B.A. in social work, Schonfeld began his career at the Cask and Cleaver restaurant in San Diego. He was a waiter through his stay at SDSU.

Following, he commenced work on a master's degree but decided his true interests were found in the restaurant business. He left San Diego State University. "I realized that I was making more money at Cask and Cleaver then I ever would doing social work," says Schonfeld. He says his stint with Cask and Cleaver taught him restaurant managerial and business skills.

In 1983, Schonfeld got the chance to put his knowledge to the test when he and four other men, Cliff Scott, Dick Burns, Gary Giargosian and Mike Hogan opened Sneakers, a restaurant bar in Claremont.

Schonfeld needed a dependable bar manager for Sneakers, and he turned to Kirk Anderson, a person with whom he has shared a life-long bond since junior high school in Claremont. The feeling is mutual. "After 20 years I still consider him my closest friend," says Anderson.

Schonfeld and Anderson launched into running the restaurant, although Anderson did not have part ownership. For Anderson, his beginning, like Schonfeld's, was not at the top.

However, in 1986, Anderson would get his chance, as Schonfeld did, to join in a true restaurant partnership.

When the opportunity came, he asked Schonfeld for assistance. Schonfeld agreed, and the two men purchased Warehouse in La Verne. However, according to Anderson, he was not sure what he wanted to do with the existing Warehouse Pizza restaurant when he first thought of buying it. "Initially I was going to buy it, gut it and then sell it," says Anderson. "People in the town said that the business would do well where it was. So, I approached Ken with the idea."

Schonfeld and Anderson pursued the Warehouse Pizza concept and turned it into a big success. But at the beginning, Schonfeld said he did not put his full effort into Warehouse.

"At first, I stayed with Sneakers because business was not that good at Warehouse," says Kenny. "When business picked up, I sold my share of Sneakers to my partners and put all of my time into the enterprise."

Warehouse Pizza's business took off, but there was something that Schonfeld found that would benefit him even more financially.

"I realized how much money was made at pizza places off pinball machines," says Kenny. "So I started buying video game machines and renting them out of my house."

Schonfeld had stumbled across another business investment. He named his new business "Game Promotions," and in 1988 Schonfeld's hunch became a reality, when Game Promotions started bringing in customers.

Anderson and Schonfeld had plenty of success at Warehouse, but Anderson wanted to expand. The problem was that Schonfeld was content where he was.

In 1996, Anderson followed through with his idea and moved to Colorado with some friends to a developing area 70 miles from Colorado Springs called Silvercliffe. There, Anderson's supporters quickly renovated an old building in the historic mining town, and Anderson opened his own restaurant: Pizza Madness. The same menu from Warehouse in La Verne was used, and currently, the business is doing well, Anderson reports. "I went to the opening of his new place,[Pizza Madness}" says Schonfeld. "He is doing well."This summer, Anderson is planning to open a new restaurant near Pueblo, Colo.

The two men are separated by distance, but their friendship stays strong. Schonfeld says that the two talk on the phone regularly, but both wish that things were different. "I wanted to capitalize, and he did not. I wish he were with me though," says Anderson.

Schonfeld is currently working on plans for a new restaurant in La Verne, named after his wife Roxanne. He is going to open the restaurant next to Lordsburg Roasters, in the building that he and his partners own.

There is more behind the planned Roxy's, however. Before Schonfeld bought the property, there was a pizza place about to be opened, but before anything was done to open the pizza place, Schonfeld bought the building.

"I didn't want any competition with Warehouse, so I bought the property," says Schonfeld. Roxy's will not provide any competition for Warehouse, but it will provide an added income for Schonfeld, just as Game Promotions did.

Schonfeld is married to Roxanne and has two girls, Jessica, 13, and Sasha, 10. The family lives in San Diego. Schonfeld commutes to La Verne several times a week.

For Schonfeld and Anderson, business has not been hard to come by. One has to think, "Some people are just made for running a business."



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