PPP Success story

Small business owner Melissa Maese Goldberg flipping pizza dough for her pizza shop

When Melissa Maese Goldberg was visiting the east coast while in high school, she discovered that she could buy pizza by the slice, her mind was blown, and she thought that was the coolest thing ever. After she graduated from UTEP in 2007, she had a few jobs and then thought back to that high school trip, and decided to introduce the idea of pizza by the slice to El Paso.  She opened the doors of her first restaurant, The Pizza Joint on March 17, 2011. She opened her first restaurant in one month, forcing her to make decisions quickly. She started with seven employees in one location, and currently has 42 employees in three locations.  Her sales have also grown from $250,000 during her first year to almost $2,000,000 in 2020.

Initially, Ms. Maese Goldberg had to face many obstacles to stay in business and to survive.  She had to go through a learning curve, master the hiring process, and even convince El Paso to love pizza by the slice as much as she did. She quickly realized that managing people is a lot of work, to include training them. Another obstacle was understanding her business taxes and how to file them, most of all, how to be profitable. Her initial plan was to be closed on Sundays, but soon realized opening on Sunday was necessary for her business to be profitable.

By 2020, The Pizza Joint’s three locations were well known and loved by El Pasoans. When COVID 19 came and forced closures and changes that were devastating to all small businesses, restaurants where especially hard hit. Ms. Maese Goldberg applied for and received a Paycheck Protection Program loan. She credits this PPP with being able to retain most of her staff, to keep business as usual without business being usual. She believes she would have had to close her downtown location, which has been the hardest hit without the PPP.

Melissa states that the greatest benefit of owning her own business is being able to do things her way and the connections it has allowed her to make with the community.  She mentors her employees, and offers an open mic to allow local performers to showcase their talent.

Melissa offers this advice to others interested in starting their own small business: Organization is key, to include following each penny, hiring good people who are like minded, and using systems when you have so many different people to work with. Also, she says it is important to ask for help, your local SBA and its resource partners are there for you. Finally, don’t fall behind on your taxes!  She states “It’s been tough, it’s been rewarding. I am an entrepreneur, which means just enough crazy in me to make it work.”

This article does not constitute or imply an endorsement by the SBA of any opinions, products, or services of any private individual or entity.