Next time you stop by Round Table Pizza at the Retail Stadium Center near the Big League Dreams in Manteca, chances are you’ll get to meet Odbayar Batbold and Dashdamba Bazardari.
They are the two visitors from Mongolia who are being trained at the Manteca restaurant to serve as managers at the first Round Table Pizza restaurants that are being opened in that country. The entrance of “The Last Honest Pizza” into Mongolia also is “a first for any major restaurant franchisor,” according to the company headquartered in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Round Table Pizza recently announced that it just signed “an exclusive agreement with Mongolia International Food Holding Co., Ltd. to develop 10 restaurants in Mongolia.”
The first Round Table restaurant in the country’s capital of Ulan Bator will open in September.
Batbold and Bazardari, who arrived on July 3, will be joined by a third trainee in about four weeks.
At the Manteca restaurant, the managers-in-training are being taught how to open a Round Table Pizza and are being trained in every aspect of its operation, including making Round Table’s “incomparable pizza dough and sauce,” said Elaine Stevenson, the training manager at the Retail Stadium which is one of the company’s training restaurants.
“They are learning how to roll dough, how to make sauce, and how to make pizza,” said Stevenson. They will also take management classes, she said.
Mike Buck, Round Table Pizza Senior Director of International Operations stated in a release to the media that the trainees “will be taken through our basic eight-week manager’s training course, along with any modifications we have made for our Mongolian operations.”
He added, “The menu will be very similar, except that we will also serve Mongolian barbecue beef pizza and pasta there, and we may test some at the training restaurant in Manteca for some lucky customers.”
The opening of the first Round Table restaurants in Mongolia brings the total number of international Round Table Pizza restaurants operating or slated for development to 47, the company also announced.
“We continue to see increased interest from abroad as entrepreneurs recognize the value in the Round Table Pizza brand,” noted Round Table Pizza CEO and President Rob McCourt in the same media release.
“It is exciting to be involved in bringing the best pizza in the world to countries like Mongolia that have no idea what great pizza tastes like,” said Stevenson.
She encourages customers visiting the restaurant to say hello to the two managers-in-training.
Bazardari, whom the staff simply refers to as “Dash,” is describe as “more of a visual learner,” while Batbold who is also called simply as “Od” with the letters pronounced separately, is the gregarious one. He is also the more articulate between the two in the English language, and is often tapped to do the translating for his fellow trainee.
The 24-year-old Od, who speaks English fluently and with hardly an accent, explained he was mostly self-taught. “I used to watch a lot of (American) cartoons back home,” he said with a big smile, his eyes twinkling.
He watched so many of them he does not have any special favorites that he can remember, he added.
He is excited at the prospect of going back home and “bring the best pizza to the best place in Mongolia.”
The Round Table Pizza at Stadium Retail Center is the only Round Table Pizza that is a training restaurant in Manteca. The restaurant also trains managers for the company’s restaurants in the Bay Area.
Manteca has two Round Table restaurants – the other one, which is not a training restaurant, is located at Spreckels Park - with one in Ripon n Wilma Avenue, two in Modesto at Orangeburg and McHenry, and one in Ceres.
The company was founded in 1959 by Bill Larson whose vision was “to create a place where families could relax and share a superb pizza.” Today, there are 450 restaurants across the western United States and the world.