Being the only Black-owned pizza business in Baton Rouge is a handicap and a blessing, according to Armand Sonnier, owner of Phat Boyz Pizza.
Since the closure of the local Pizza Hut chain owned by Lundy Enterprises, Sonnier is now the sole minority pizza vendor.
He said many people are hesitant to try his pizza because they are not used to Black ownership.
“They always think that the pizzeria belongs to Whites only,” he said. Bearing a name many know as the acronym for “pretty, hot and tempting,” one bite into the PhatBoyz’s extra large specialty would change their hesitancy into addiction.
In fact, Sonnier’s customer base is steadily increasing with many repeat customers.
For nearly 30 years, Sonnier has been in the pizza-making business, starting as a driver for Domino’s Pizza. He also waxed floors for extra income.customers who love his pizza.
Over the years, his appreciation for the pizza business grew. One day while on the job, he picked up Pizza Today magazine and came across a pizza oven priced at $10,000. At the time, he was making enough money to afford the oven. He decided to start his own business and work for himself. Once he left Domino’s, he began laying out plans to become an owner in the pizza business
His main objective for Phat Boyz, he said, is to provide affordable pizza, using quality ingredients, and to provide delivery to communities throughout North Baton Rouge.
Sonnier and his staff make their own dough, buy products from local distributors, and make a special blend of sauces and topping combinations to appeal to customers. “We do everything ourselves,” he said.
Competition with other pizza establishments is not the primary focus for Sonnier because his business is independent.
He is focused on providing customers with quality pizza at an affordable price. He used his own money to fund the building they are using to operate the pizza business. His fiancé, Carolyn Haymond, children, and grandchildren help with the business. According to him, customers are looking for a good place at a fairly decent price. He says that these are the reasons why the pizzeria has continued moving forward.
Sonnier’s other objective for this pizzeria was to make his pizza available to communities including Glen Oaks, Southern Heights and Zion City. He felt it was not right that other establishments refuse to deliver to certain areas throughout Baton Rouge.
He has dealt with many startup difficulties including equipment failure and lack of knowledge of state laws in the beginning stages of the business. Throughout the tribulations, he has learned to stay up with certain things such as employee forms, taxes, and laws that were discovered. Sonnier put his all towards not only his pizza designs, but he also strives to makes sure that his customers are satisfied with what they order. He isn’t worried much about being the only Black- owned pizza place in Baton Rouge. He would rather have the people recognize him for his work rather than for being a Black business owner in a predominately White industry.
Phat Boyz is located at 9186 Greenwell Springs Rd . It is open Mon. – Fri., 10am – midnight and onWeekends 10am – 10pm and delivery orders can be placed by calling (225) 923-3433. ONLINE: http://www.phatboyzpizzabr.com/By James Teague Contributing Writer
This article was originally published in The Drum newspaper June 13,2014