When The Proper Pizza Company opens in The Cove dining precinct in December, it will provide Coasties with delicious European-style pizzas and its owner with a platform to launch a new global empire.
The Proper Pizza Company opened in New Zealand two years ago – the first restaurant is in O’Connell Street in central Auckland.
Stuart Deeks, a seasoned hospitality entrepreneur, and his partner Ina, who works tirelessly by his side, have now decided it’s time to open the second restaurant in Whangaparaoa because they love the area and want to live on the Coast.
With recipe inspiration from Europe, The Proper Pizza Company will give Kiwis the freshest, tastiest, European-style pizza they have ever experienced, Stuart says.
The Whangaparaoa restaurant will be licensed and seat 45 people with indoor and outdoor seating, offering a high-quality but affordable family dining experience. Locals will also be able to order food to go and for delivery until early morning.
Pizzas range from a snack sized 20cm right up to a whopping 60cm size – the biggest pizza in New Zealand. “It’s the size of a table,” Ina laughs.
“We use only the best locally sourced ingredients and hand-kneaded doughs made fresh each day in our own kitchen.”
The standard base is a thin-crust European style, made with sesame seeds. It’s low-gluten and vegan.
Savory pizzas come in 10 different flavors and there are a couple of dessert pizzas including a delicious Apple Crumble Pizza and a Nutella and Fresh Fruit taste sensation. The Proper Pizza Company has gluten-free, dairy-free, Halal and keto options to ensure everyone is able to enjoy their fix.
And pizza is not the only option on the menu – the restaurant has a range of appetizers, soups, fondues and salads. For dessert there are 12 flavors of fresh gelato to choose from alongside the dessert pizzas.
Ina, who is originally from Albania, met Stuart when he was in her homeland on business. She was interested in being part of the Esquires Coffee Houses franchise which Stuart founded in New Zealand and subsequently took around the world.
When he sold the Esquires business the relationship remained strong. “We started out as friends, then close friends and finally started flirting and dating,” Ina says.
Her family owns a number of restaurants and hotels in Albania and while she is not a trained chef, she has grown up surrounded by great food and running successful businesses in the hospitality industry.
“I know great flavors and quality,” she smiles. “Stuart and I are the perfect team.”
Stuart and Ina decided they wanted to build a business together and started travelling the world looking for the right opportunity.
“I wanted to be inspired – I needed to find something special that I could build a restaurant and then an empire around. The pizza that The Proper Pizza Company is inspired by meets all my criteria,” Stuart says. “I couldn’t be prouder or more excited to share what we have created!”
Stuart looked at several businesses in the United States and the United Kingdom but didn’t settle until he ended up back where he started – in Ina’s homeland Albania.
Albania doesn’t have the global fast-food chains found in so many countries around the world, but it does have one very famous pizza brand which The Proper Pizza Company is inspired by.
Pizza is not considered cheap fast food in Albania, Ina says. “We share our neighboring Italians passion for great food and pizza in particular. It’s a specialty food, crafted with high-quality ingredients and people really enjoy it as a part of local culture and tradition.”
She took Stuart to her favorite pizzeria and after his first bite, he had decided it was the best pizza he’d tasted in his life.”
Ina and Stuart took the best parts of their European experience – high-quality ingredients and amazing flavors such as Black Truffle – and gave them a Kiwi twist to reflect local ingredients, tastes and our eating out lifestyle.
Once they have the Whangaparaoa restaurant up and running, they plan to quickly open pizzerias in Albany, Orewa and Silverdale.
Stuart is no stranger to restaurant chains. He founded Esquires Coffee Houses in 2001, going on to buy out the Canadian-based parent company and taking the brand all around the world to Europe, the United Kingdom, Asia, the Middle East, Indonesia and Australia. He successfully floated the business on the New Zealand stock market before selling to an international group of investors.
Now he wants to use that experience to expand The Proper Pizza Company, firstly on the Coast, then around New Zealand, before taking the brand overseas.
“The Hibiscus Coast will be the launch pad for our new empire,” Stuart says.
“We are excited to move in, meet the locals and be part of such a vibrant community. We love the area.”