High Scores for Slam Dunk Pizza

"[Our advisor] helped us put our business plan together from the first word to the last.”


Owners Matt and Stephanie Dunken hand a pizza over the counter at Slam Dunk Pizza in Ukiah, CA.

Slam Dunk Pizza is a sports-themed pizza restaurant in Ukiah, California. The owners, Matt and Stephanie Dunken, have a background in the pizza business but this is the first business they have owned themselves. The restaurant offers a variety of toppings as well as “house specialty” pizzas, burgers, beer, and soft drinks. Pizzas are available to eat on site, where customers can watch sports on TV and enjoy arcade games, or customers can get pizzas to go or delivered to their door. Slam Dunk Pizza also welcomes groups in its two party rooms.

Matt and Stephanie were confident they could run a pizza business successfully, but they needed help with the startup process. In particular, they needed assistance refining their idea and applying for financing. They presented their idea to West Company advisor, Steve O’Mara, and he too thought they had a lot of potential, but he knew they would need a convincing business plan if they were to obtain bank financing. He also wanted to make sure they were prepared to overcome all the hurdles that can face first-time business owners in the startup process.

Steve O’Mara worked with the Dunkens to fine tune their ideas and present them in a detailed business plan that would help persuade a bank to back their startup. He gave the Dunkens West Company’s “Business Plan Workbook,” and advised them on each step of the plan, including renovation and equipment, staffing, marketing, and menu planning. The Dunkens found a location for their restaurant, and, with Steve’s help, finished their business plan in April of 2013. They also found private investors interested in helping to back the project.

Matt and Stephanie Dunken were able to obtain a loan from Savings Bank of Mendocino County for $50,000, and they secured an additional $50,000 from private investors. They hired 8 employees and opened Slam Dunk Pizza in October of 2013. They held a pre-opening thank-you party in September which helped generate buzz for the restaurant, and they have successfully used social media to generate interest in the restaurant and its offerings. They also sponsor local sports teams, which ties in nicely with the sporting theme of Slam Dunk Pizza, and helps spread word about the restaurant.

According to the Dunkens, the dream of Slam Dunk Pizza “never would have happened” without the help of Steve O’Mara. Matt Dunken says, “[Steve O’Mara ] always had time for us, never rushed us, and his knowledge of opening a business was fantastic. [He] helped us put our business plan together from the first word to the last.” Now that they are open, the Dunkens are focusing on increasing sales and making Slam Dunk Pizza “a fun and happy place for everyone in and around Ukiah to enjoy.” The restaurant seems like a winner indeed.

Torrey Douglass