FACE TO FACE with Rhombus Guys
Rhombus Guys won the People's Choice for Best Pizza in Grand Forks for the second year in a row. We talk to co-owners Matt Winjum and Arron Hendricks about their pizza, their business, and just why the name "Rhombus Guys."...
Rhombus Guys won the People's Choice for Best Pizza in Grand Forks for the second year in a row. We talk to co-owners Matt Winjum and Arron Hendricks about their pizza, their business, and just why the name "Rhombus Guys."
Q. Do you eat pizza at home?
A. Matt: All the time. Pizza is the No. 1 food in my diet, hands-down.
Arron: I eat pizza away from work. On every vacation I seem to find myself at a pizza place, (for example) for New Years Eve, I was in New York City and went to the 'oldest' pizza joint in the city.
Q. How many slices of pizza do you eat in a week?
A. Arron: I eat a lot of slices.
Matt: I'd say I eat 30 to 40 slices per week. That's roughly half a 16 inch pizza a day.
Q. What's your favorite kind of pizza?
A. Matt: My favorite kind of pizza has got to be the Winstein. It was one of the first pizza's I created on my own. It's just simple toppings combined to get a really good pizza: jalapenos, pepperoni and green olives. Salty and spicy, perfect for drinking beer.
Arron: Geez, it's tough to say. I eat so much pizza. Right now, I like to eat the T-Rex with jalapenos.
Q. What's your favorite pizza to make?
A. Matt: There are a lot of fun ones, but I think the taco pizza is one of my favorites to make. I always like to see how fast I can make it. You put it all together, bake it, and then basically put an entire salad on top of it, served up with salsa and sour cream. It's beautiful to the eye.
Arron: I don't care what I make, but I know I love to be making them for hours on end as fast as I can.
Q. How'd you learn to make pizza?
A. Matt: I worked at Dominoes. I made my first pizza ever there, while I was in my early college years. Within the first couple of days, I caught on super-fast. I loved it from the beginning. The pizza shops in that town were busy, you had to whip out more pizzas than I'd ever had to make anywhere else. It was speed, not quality.
Arron: I learned on the fly. We all pretty much did.
Q. What made pizza your specialty?
A. Arron: It was sort of a slow evolution.
Matt: We weren't good at anything else. (Laughter) People like it the best. And it's fun; you can put anything on it. That's what took our pizzas to the next level. I could make pasta and put it on a pizza crust. I could put barbeque and put it on a pizza crust. I could make dessert and put it on a pizza crust. It's the starting point for everything.
Q. How do you come up with all the neat pizzas?
A. Arron: Our recipe ideas come from all over. The Internet, pizza magazines, other shops, but the best is to create something yourself.
Matt: I don't think of pizza being limited in any way. It's kind of like a canvas; you can have fun with it. And obviously, there's trial and error. Some flavor combinations work together, some don't.
Q. Where do the names come from?
A. Matt: The names come from all over. Mostly we say, if you've been a Rhombus supporter, you may have a pizza named after you. The Busey, a Hawaiian style pizza, is named after my college roommate who looked like (the actor) Gary Busey. He said if you guys ever make this kind of pizza, you name it after me.
Arron: Some of the names come from my quirky personality, Arron's Little Miracle, T-Rex.
Matt: I had created something I called the "Meat-eater," and Arron said we could pile on more meats. He pretty much upped the anti -- that's how we got the T-Rex - the greatest meat-eater.
Q. Why Rhombus Guys? Why not Square Guys?
A. Arron: Square Guys would be a ridiculous name, so we went with Rhombus Guys.
(Matt explains that it came from their first business, a snowmobile trailer they converted into a smoothie stand).
Matt: When we got done with the frame, it wasn't square-like at all. It was all slanted, like a rhombus. It really has become our way to live life, think outside the box, don't be a square.
Q. What's your favorite dish to prepare (pizza or not)?
A. Matt: I do really love making pizza. Outside of work, I don't really cook: my girlfriend (Kate Proulx) is a fantastic cook. She taught me how to make chicken Valentino. It's a great dinner I make pretty often outside of work.
Arron: I honestly don't cook at home. So, I enjoy preparing pizzas. I also love to eat steak. I've substituted steak for side salads before.
Q. Who's your taste-tester?
A. Matt: Always our kitchen staff. Myself, my partner, my girlfriend's usually involved in taste-testing.
Q. How many pizzas do you make in a day?
A. Arron: Sometimes I make zero pizzas in a day. Sometimes I think I make millions of pizzas in a day.
Q. What's your favorite part of being business owners? Least favorite?
A. Arron: The most rewarding is winning the pizza contest two years in a row. To work so hard at something, and have people show their gratitude and appreciation for your work is amazing. Also, meeting lots of people. There is a guy named Matt the Cat that comes in, we both like playing foozball. I enjoy beating him. My least favorite part is sitting in the office paying bills.
Matt: Knowing that whether you succeed is mostly based on your decision-making. Or being able to create something that will, hopefully, outlast me. I hate disciplining employees.
Q. Would you ever want to get out of the pizza/restaurant business?
A. Matt: I don't ever see myself getting out of the business. I'll probably have to spend less time inside, with kids and stuff down the line.
Arron: At some point my workload would have to decrease. I regularly work for months without a full day off, but I really don't want to get out of restaurants.