Ep. 036 – Mike Albaek, Co-owner of Proletariat Pizza

Ep. 036 – Mike Albaek, Co-owner of Proletariat Pizza

Proletariat PizzaThis week’s guest is Mike Albaek, Owner of Proletariat Pizza in White Center, just south of West Seattle. Mike and his wife, Stefanie opened Proletariat Pizza in 2009 and have created a friendly neighborhood pizzeria, using quality ingredients to make great pizzas.

Highlights From This Episode:

Mike and Stefanie Albaek have lived in West Seattle they bought their house here in 2003. They wanted to start their own business and were looking at all sorts of options. Stefanie’s background is as a hair dresser, so they thought about opening their own salon. Mike had fallen into his job in the Telecommunications world was realizing that he wasn’t real happy in that line of work. And then Full Tilt Ice Cream opened in White Center, followed shortly after by Zippy’s moving to their new location in White Center. through frequenting these two great businesses, he got to know the owners and found inspiration. Mike got to know Justin (owner of Full Tilt) and Blain (owner of Zippy’s Burger) and was inspired by both of these new businesses to start a new restaurant in White Center and helping add to the new character of the neighborhood. They were initially considering opening a sandwich shop but Justin suggested that what White Center really needed and wanted was a local pizza shop. So in 2009, Proletariat Pizza was born.
The plan was to open Proletariat and Mike would continue working his tele-communications job at AT&T Wireless for another 6 months… which turned into 2 years before he was able to step away and have Proletariat be their singular focus and income source.

  • What do you love most about what your business now? Being part of the community and being able to talk with and get to know the customers. The interaction with the customers is his favorite part.
  • What was most surprising or unexpected with opening your own business? How the business has evolved. What they envisioned the business being one thing when they opened but it ended up evolving into a very communal, family friendly neighborhood pizzeria.
  • What is your business known for? A regular family neighborhood gathering place with good pizza.
  • What set’s you apart from others in your industry?
  • What is your greatest strength? Being the face of proliferate and being able to interface with the customers
  • What habit do you wish you had? Being able to get by on less sleep.
  • What are you passionate about? Doing things right. Talking to the employees to treat the employees using “the golden rule” and treat others like you would want to be treated.
  • What is your biggest challenge now? Managing employees (having grown from just a few employees to up to 25 at times) and getting information out to all of them without constantly having meetings.
  • What is the biggest lesson you have learned in addressing this challenge? They are still learning it but just writing down procedures and having an employee handbook has gone a long way.
  • In the past, what was holding you back from becoming the entrepreneur you are today? Fear of failure and fear of making the leap to self-employment.
  • What is the best advice you have ever received? Make sure to get together regularly with like-minded business owners and being able to share experiences, and lessons… and hear that what your going through as a small business owner are the same things they are going through or have gone through and you can commiserate and learn from each other.
  • What is a personal habit that contributes to your success? Wanting to do things right. Want to make a good product with good ingredients… not just trying to slam out a cheap product and make some money. 
  • What is your one book recommendation for our listeners?Anthony Bourdain – Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly or Charles Bukowski
  • Parting Guidance – For other business owners – “Take vacations” and learn to rest.


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