Pizza from the floor and a bucket of slurry: What’s going on behind the scenes at the largest Russian pizzerias
Large pizzeria chains Domino’s Pizza and Dodo Pizza are going through big changes. The first one left Russia, the network has new owners. In the second, the leadership changes.
The SHOT CHECK project found out how companies conduct their business and what employees and customers complain about.
What customers complained about at Domino’s Pizza and Dodo Pizza
— I placed an order, the money was debited, but it was not delivered. I contacted the hotline, where a request for a refund was submitted, more than a month has passed, but there has been no refund – one of the most frequent complaints about the work of the Domino’s Pizza pizzeria chain since last fall.
The chain’s clients scribble hundreds of negative reviews about the pizzeria’s work as carbon copies. Some people receive pizza that looks like it came out of a washing machine, some people don’t get what they ordered, and for others the food doesn’t even arrive at all. There are many complaints that the quality of the product itself has dropped. In many cases, customers were unable to reach the company to express their outrage.
Typical reviews of the Domino’s Pizza pizzeria chain. Photo © otzovik.com
Dodo Pizza is doing better, but there are still plenty of complaints about them. The main ones are: it’s expensive, they don’t provide the toppings, tasteless dough and problems with timely delivery: sometimes the pizza is delivered already cold.
— Rubber dough, not airy and not crispy crusts, also some kind of rubber; I wasn’t particularly pleased with the taste either… The mushrooms are not sweet because they were not fried first, there are few shrimp; there was no chicken on the Hawaiian pizza at all… I think this was our first and last experience with “Dodo Pizza”; we won’t order it again,” writes a regular author of one of the popular review sites with a high reader trust rating.
How food is prepared and delivered in famous pizzerias
SHOT CHECKS agents infiltrated the employees of the Domino’s Pizza and Dodo Pizza chains and found out that, in an effort to make a profit, company managers often neglect all rules and regulations.
For example, in Krasnodar, in one of the pizzerias of the Dodo Pizza chain, the cooks who cook pepperoni or carbonara themselves wash the floors in the premises and the toilet. The team does not have its own cleaner.
“They have this bucket of dirty, muddy water, like a disinfectant, and they use this rag to wipe the tables in the dirty water, and then they cook lingonberry rolls on it. There’s shit everywhere, the floor is covered in garbage. No one monitors the cleanliness of the dishes, no one monitors the cleanliness of their hands, because they wash their hands, then wipe their hands on the apron, touch something there and then cook with the same hands,” says one of the agents.
Company managers often neglect all rules and regulations. Photo © Shutterstock
According to the rules, dough unused during the day must be disposed of – “burned”, but in one of the capital’s Domino’s pizzerias, where another SHOT CHECK agent worked, it was simply thrown into a landfill located right next to the restaurant. As a result, rats bred here in large numbers.
Expired vegetables are used in both chains, but ready-made, unsold pizzas are distributed to employees only at Domino’s – at Dodo, according to the rules, they are thrown out under the cameras.
The couriers who deliver pizza and drinks to customers, in their own words, do not earn very much, so they sometimes treat their work irresponsibly: sometimes the customer receives food that falls along the way with ingredients collected from the floor.
What is known about the owners and earnings of Domino’s Pizza
Why the quality of preparation and customer service at Domino’s Pizza has sharply declined became clear last year after it was reported that the company was going to leave the Russian market. The story is strange at first glance, since the international network closely monitored the quality of products and service after the scandal that occurred in the United States in 2009.
Then two employees of a pizzeria in the kitchen of one of the outlets in North Carolina were filming an entertaining video for YouTube, in which they blew their noses at pizzas lying in boxes, prepared for sending to customers. The resonance was so wide that The New York Times wrote about the event, the hooligans went to the dock, and the top management of Domino’s Pizza spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to rehabilitate the company’s name.
Even The New York Times supported the high-profile scandal involving two pizzeria employees. Screen © nytimes.com
Domino’s Pizza is originally from the United States, but most of its restaurants around the world are franchised and have different owners. The parent company – the holder of the franchise in Russia (and in addition in Turkey, Azerbaijan and Georgia) – DP Eurasia NV – is registered in the Netherlands.
After the start of the SVO, as part of the general trend – the flight of Western brands from Russia – DP Eurasia NV decided to sell its Russian “daughter” – Pizza Restaurants LLC. According to the latest reports published in SPARK, for 2022 the company’s revenue amounted to 3 billion rubles. At the same time, the company went into negative territory by more than a billion.
Despite the large revenue, the company managed to accumulate debts and was preparing for bankruptcy. Photo © SPARK
Throughout the end of last year, the international franchise was looking for a buyer in Russia and even seemed to have reached an agreement with someone. But in the end, the sale deal fell through, and Pizza Restaurants began preparing for bankruptcy. By this time, there were 188 restaurants operating in our country under a well-known brand. Of course, no one in the company’s top management cared anymore about what indignant customers wrote about Domino’s on social networks.
This summer, the chain’s restaurants closed, and then suddenly another buyer appeared. Now the chain is awaiting a total rebranding and, possibly, a new life: the first outlet under the new Domino Pizza brand opened on August 30 on Khodynsky Boulevard.
The new owners of the Domino’s Pizza chain are rapper Timati and restaurateur Anton Pinsky. They promised to invest about 400 million rubles in rebranding and relaunch the network. Photo © TASS / Sofia Sandurskaya
Who owns Dodo Pizza?
It is interesting that a number of fast food market experts believed that Domino’s could be purchased by its competitor, Dodo Pizza. The first restaurant of this chain appeared in Syktyvkar back in 2011, it was opened by local businessman Fyodor Ovchinnikov.
Now the chain already has 950 restaurants. Geography of distribution: 16 countries. In addition to Russia, “Dodo pizza” is known in Nigeria, China, Great Britain, Estonia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovenia, Germany, USA, UAE, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan.
Like Domino’s Pizza, Dodo also operates as a franchise. Its own chain of pizzerias, Dodo Pizza, is managed by the Pizza Venture company. Work with franchisees is organized through the Dodo Franchising company. Now both companies are 100% owned by DP Global Group Limited, registered in the British Virgin Islands. According to open sources, it may belong to Ovchinnikov by 69%.
Legally, the Dodo Pizza chain is now owned by a company from the British Virgin Islands, DP Global Group Limited. Photo © SPARK
According to SPARK data, the total revenue of these two companies in Russia amounted to 7 billion rubles.
What is known about Fedor Ovchinnikov
Fedor Ovchinnikov is 42 years old, a native of the city of Troitsk, Chelyabinsk region, but he received his education in Syktyvkar, did business there, and even now companies from the Dodo network are registered there, and not in Moscow.
When the network came to the capital, Ovchinnikov participated in various television programs and videos of famous bloggers, gave out numerous interviews in which he appeared to the audience as an ordinary, modest guy involved in the development of a difficult business – he even arrived for interviews in an economy class taxi.
Fyodor Ovchinnikov, at the congress of partners and managers of the Dodo company in the summer of 2023, publicly announced his resignation from management. Photo © Youtube / Dodo Brands Russia
Despite his Syktyvkar residence permit, the businessman can now be seen in the prestigious capital’s Khamovniki district near the Trubetskoy park-estate, a few meters from the Frunzenskaya metro station. Here he lives in a new business-class building in an apartment of 80 square meters.
This winter, Fyodor Ovchinnikov announced that he would leave the leadership of the group of companies united under the Dodo roof at the end of 2023.