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Austin From Scratch: An Interview with Craig Plackis, Founder of Craig O’s Pizza and Pastaria

Austin From Scratch is our favorite series on the blog and involves Owen (age 7) and Malia (age 5) interviewing local entrepreneurs who have created a thriving business here in the heart of Texas.  For this session, we sat down with Craig Plackis, Founder of Craig O’s Pizza and Pastaria.  We selected Craig O’s because it’s our favorite pizza in Austin and we wanted to meet the man behind the famous gluten-free pies.

Owen (our seven-year-old son)
What were your favorite things to do as a kid?

Craig (Craig Plackis, Founder of Craig O’s)
I played a lot of sports growing up.  I ran track, I played baseball and basketball.  Those were my three favorite things to do.  Until I was in high school, then I played football…which I really enjoyed.  I loved being outside and playing with my friends.  I loved playing sports all the time.

Owen
How did you go about learning as a child?

Craig
I was very disruptive in the classroom.  I’m sure today they would say I had ADD.  I also enjoyed Math.  My father was an economics major and he would always throw hard math problems at us to solve as kids when we were riding in the car or sitting at the table.  And we had to go find the answers…either that night or the next day and we had to go back to him.  I wasn’t a big fan of reading.  I am now…I love reading, but math was my favorite.

Owen
Did you ever ride your bike?

Craig
Yes, I had a BMX.  We grew up in the BMX country and it was just becoming popular.  The bikes were getting tricked out like they are today.  I had the mag wheels and a bike called Red Line and we would spend 500 bucks on them in a year and go racing with our friends in the dirt.  So yes, we loved riding our bikes.  We could ride them everywhere when we were kids.  We’d go miles and miles and were just told to be home by dinner.

Owen
When did you first know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?

Craig
I think it was in college when I first realized.  I got to work for some delis and some independent restaurants and I realized I didn’t like sitting down at a desk or in classrooms.  I like being on my feet.  From there, that’s how I decided I’d have to get into business for myself so I could move around.

About this point in the interview, Craig’s entrepreneurial skills jumped into action.  He had noticed a customer hadn’t been greeted as they entered the restaurant so he took a quick break from our conversation to ensure them their order would be taken momentarily.  It was great to see him so responsive to his customers.

Owen
What is your favorite thing about being an entrepreneur?

Craig
My favorite thing about being an entrepreneur is that I get to spend a lot of time with my family.  I had to work hard to get it there, but once you get it to the point where it’s going well, I’m able to spend more time without people telling me where I have to go or what I have to do.

Owen
What would you be doing if you weren’t running Craig O’s?

Craig
That’s a great question.  I think I would either be some sort of stock broker or in sales of some sort.  I don’t know exactly what, but I’d be selling something to the public.

Owen
What is your favorite pizza?

Craig
My favorite pizza is called the White Italian.  It’s Alfredo-based with chunks of chicken, red onions and fresh cilantro on top when it’s done.  (At which point Paul – that’s me – interrupts, “I think I’m going to have to try that one.”)  Craig chuckles and concurs.

Owen
Do you have any advice for young entrepreneurs?

Craig
My advice is to follow your passion and don’t follow the money.  If you have a passion for something and you think you’d like to do it when you wake up in the morning and you’re satisfied when you go to bed at night, I would say to continue with it.  And that’s why I’ve continued with Craig O’s, and that’s why we’ve been doing it for ten years and have five stores and we just love doing what we’re doing.

Malia (our five-year-old daughter)
How did you come up with this idea?

Craig
I was in the pizza business for about eight years and I grew up around a bunch of Italians, and we took a bunch of their recipes and I took my knowledge of the pizza industry and whoa-la, we have Craig O’s.

And thank goodness for Craig O’s because we love it.  Thank you Craig!

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