Home' The Wellingtonian : July 28th 2011 Contents 12 THE WELLINGTONIAN, JULY 28, 2011
To order your own
copy of photos in this
paper, or other CCN
titles, check out:
In Hell -- and loving it
Callum Davies: ''Believe it or not, I wanted to be a stockbroker.''
Photo: REBECCA THOMSON
Hell Pizza founder
Callum Davies talks to
about pizzas, wanting to
become a stockbroker
Is it true you came up with the
idea for Hell Pizza while at
No, that s an urban myth. But I
did have an after-school job at a
pizza place in Karori when I was
15, and did start thinking about
When you were growing up
what did you want to do?
Believe it or not I wanted to be
a stockbroker. In the 1990s the
stockmarket seemed so exciting
and those guys were making
heaps of money by they time they
were 24 or 25.
Were you good at maths and
accounting at school?
Maths was probably one of my
best subjects at school. Accounting
wasn t so great. I found that sixth
form [year 12] accounting was just
not that relevant.
You must have a good head
I have an OK head for numbers,
but it wasn t until I took on my
business partner, Stu McMullin,
that I learned about how much it
actually cost to make pizza. He
taught me that. I had been pricing
them according to what was in the
market. It seems silly now.
What was the first pizza
business you owned?
I opened a store in
Wainuiomata called The Pizza
Place. It had been advertised for
$7000, including the stock. The
catch was it was in Wainui. It was
pretty challenging running a
pizza place there, because it s not
the most affluent suburb. I would
have all-you-can eat specials and
get the rugby league guys to come
in. League s big out there and
once I got them in, everyone else
You opened Hell Pizza in
Kelburn in 1993. Why choose
Hell as a brand?
I had friends who ran a radio
station called Fish FM and every-
thing had to have a fish theme. I
liked the idea of having something
themed. I thought the pizza indus-
try was really boring at the time,
so wracked my brains and came
up with Hell.
Were you concerned about
using the name Hell?
When we opened the Kelburn
store we were a bit worried poten-
tial customers might think we
were back-yard devil-worshippers
or something and not order from
us. I tried to think of other names,
but I couldn t come up with any-
How did you allay your con-
We went to a graphic design
company and they suggested we
keep everything light and fun, so
we did. We needn t have worried.
The place really took off. We
couldn t answer the phones fast
enough. We were very lucky,
though. We were close to Victoria
University and a group of web
design students offered to set up a
website for us. The website basi-
cally took off because people
couldn t get through on the
Was it hard work getting
that store off the ground?
I worked every night possible,
except for two weeks at
Christmas. At the time I was 21
and all my friends were going out
drinking. I was missing out on
that, so I thought, This had better
be worth it . Thankfully it was.
Several Wellington busi-
nesses, including Havana Cof-
fee and 42 Below vodka,
started at the same time as
Hell. Was it an exciting time?
Yes it was. Wellington was
really changing. You would go out
at 9.30 at night and no-one would
be out, hardly anything would be
open. That was changing, the cof-
fee culture was really taking off
and Wellingtonians really
appreciated it. Wellingtonians
really appreciate when they get
How many Hell Pizza stores
are there now?
We have 63 in New Zealand,
and franchises and owner-
operated stores in Australia, UK,
Ireland, Canada, India and Seoul.
How popular is pizza in
They have three pizza brands in
Seoul. It s become very popular,
mainly with the emerging middle
class, especially the kids. They
seem to want to move away from
tradition and be more Western.
Were you concerned about
using the Hell brand in any
I was worried about Ireland,
because they still have religious
wars going on. But they were fan-
tastic. I probably wouldn t try
opening a Hell in Texas, though.
You travel a lot for business.
Do you enjoy travelling?
I love to travel. When I came
back from the UK a few years ago
with my wife and children we took
three months and travelled by
train, boat and automobile
through Mongolia and Russia. It
was absolutely fantastic.
What pizza topping is the
most popular in New Zealand?
Definitely Lust -- that s our
meat-lovers one. New Zealand is
definitely a nation of meat-lovers.
Having said that, our gluten-free
and dairy-free pizzas are really
The Hell Pizza headquarters
are in the former Mt Cook
police barracks, which are
said to be haunted. Have you
seen any ghosts?
We haven t seen anything, but
one of our rooms is filled with
Halloween and Hell-themed para-
phernalia, so it looks quite spooky.
The old cells are still there,
though. Apparently, back in the
day men would go out drinking on
Friday nights, be placed in the
cells and then on Saturday morn-
ing their sons would line up and
hand over a penny to get them
Links Archive July 21st 2011 August 4th 2011 Navigation Previous Page Next Page