Matt and Stephanie Dunken had many years of experience working in the pizza business, but when it came to pairing their love for pizza with sports and opening their own business, they turned to West Business Development Center to make sure they were doing it right.

The Dunkens were confident they could run a pizza restaurant successfully, but they wanted help refining their idea and applying for financing which they would need for hard costs like a lease, equipment, ingredients and to pay employees. Their first meeting with West Business Development Center was a success – their advisor saw the potential too. But he knew that the Dunkens would need a well thought-out business plan with a map to profitability if they were going to apply for 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 and have a plan for those – before they happened.

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. Meeting weekly, they worked through every step of the plan, including renovation and equipment, staffing, marketing, and menu planning. The Dunkens found a location for their restaurant, and, with their advisor’s help, finished their business plan in April of 2013. 

With their well honed business plan and roadmap for success, the Dunkens were able to put together financing from both private investors and the Savings Bank of Mendocino County – each committed $50,000 to the new enterprise. They hired eight employees and opened Slam Dunk Pizza in October of 2013. 

The restaurant offers a variety of pizza toppings as well as “house specialty” pizzas, burgers, beer, and soft drinks. Pizzas are available to eat at the restaurant, 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. They also sponsor many of local youth sports teams and are now a Ukiah institution.

According to the Dunkens, the dream of Slam Dunk Pizza “never would have happened” without the help of West Business Development Center. Matt Dunken says, “Steve 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 they just keep focusing on making Slam Dunk “a fun and happy place for everyone in and around Ukiah to enjoy.” 

Slam Dunk Pizza, 720 North State Street, Ukiah, 707-463-1000,