What started as a part-time pizza delivery job turned into much more than Jeff Ambrose was expecting. After working at the original Woodstock’s Pizza location in Corvallis, Oregon, he helped the owners open a new restaurant in Isla Vista, California instead of looking for a full-time teaching job. Then he helped open locations in Chico and near San Diego State, getting more invested and proving to be invaluable with every step of the process.
After the original owners passed away, Jeff was promoted to president, and in 2001, he and his wife, Laura, purchased all five California locations and promptly got to work bringing Woodstock’s to Santa Cruz and their home in Pacific Beach. According to a list created by trade publication Pizza Today, Woodstock’s currently is ranked third in the nation among independent pizzerias, and loyal fans throughout California are quite familiar with their fresh ingredients and creative combinations.
Best part about doing business in SD?
Laura: Living here! We live in Pacific Beach, and have our administrative offices in P.B., and do most everything we can in PB.
Pros and cons of running a business with your spouse?
Jeff: The pro is we’re both working on something that truly matters to us. We tend to look at the business from different perspectives. Laura is more focused on our customers’ experience and marketing,
Laura: Jeff is more focused on internal operations and the financial details. It can be difficult to separate work from our personal life. We admit to spending lots of our free time talking about the business, or pseudo-business related things.
Most rewarding part of owning Woodstock’s?
Jeff: Interacting with our fantastic customers and our dedicated team of employees.
Favorite pizza on the menu?
Jeff: Woody’s Waui and our recent creation the Kickin’ Carnitas.
Laura: I’m a vegetarian and have lots of pizzas I rotate between. There’s our legendary Grateful Veg, the Pesto Primavera and in the summer, our Bikini Zucchini. I also love our Mediterranean without meat.
Advice for young entrepreneurs?
Jeff: In restaurants, you not only need great recipes, you’ve got to have a strong business background and the leadership skills to hire talented people. Listen to your customers and be flexible to adapt to changing customer demands. Bottom line, being your own boss can become an anchor that drowns you unless you can trust others to work for you.
Quote/motto you live by?
Laura: Our motto at Woodstock’s is “Work hard, have fun.” We also try to live by the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”