NEA Outstanding Businesses: Lost Pizza wins Small Business Award

by George Jared ([email protected]) 310 views 

Talk Business & Politics, in partnership with Arvest Bank, recently honored the top businesses in 2024 throughout Northeast Arkansas. Nominees were gathered from around the region and a select panel of judges chose four finalists in each of these categories: large, small, startup and nonprofit. This week, we will feature the finalists and winners by category in a four-part series.

On Monday, we profiled our nonprofit winners, which you can read about here.

In the small business category, Lost Pizza was the winner as chosen by the judges. The company was started in Jonesboro in 2016. It has offered unique pizza offerings since it was founded.

Other finalists in the small business category include MorningSide Coffee House, Rothrock Drug Company, and Wilson Cafe.

Lost Pizza (Jonesboro)
Owners: Sara & Brad McDaniel
Year founded: 2016
Line of work: Restaurant
Website: LostPizza.com

Two college friends, Brooks Roberts and Preston Lott had an idea. They wanted to create a unique pizzeria experience. Years passed and the two went onto other jobs.

Lott went to visit Roberts and his wife in the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the two hatched a plan. They would build their first Lost Pizza Co. in their hometown of Indianola, Miss., in 2007. Jonesboro entrepreneurs Sara and Brad McDaniel liked the concept so much that they became the 10th franchisee for the chain in 2016. When their doors opened in Jonesboro, it was the first Lost Pizza west of the Mississippi River, Sara McDaniel said.

Sara McDaniel and crew from Lost Pizza Co. in Jonesboro.

Since it opened, Lost Pizza in Jonesboro has steadily grown, Sara McDaniel said. She estimates it has grown by 5% to 10% annually.

“We are a locally owned and operated small business. From the beginning, it has been our goal to create community in a laid-back, fun, friendly atmosphere. We have a passion for hospitality and believe that food can bring people together. LPC’s menu offers pizza, salad, sandwiches, pasta, wings, our signature spinach artichoke dip and famous Delta Hot Tamales — all made fresh daily,” she said.

One unique feature at Lost Pizza is it hosts the Arkansas State University Coaches Radio Show during football and basketball seasons. Head coaches, both men and women, along with guest players, participate in an hour-long, live radio show.

“It’s an energetic event that gives ASU fans the opportunity to engage with and support our university’s coaches and athletes. At times we have hosted live music and community events like our Inaugural Classic Car Drive-In in 2023,” she said.

The city’s growth and tourism are two of the reasons Lost Pizza has done well, she said. In 2015, the estimated population of Jonesboro was roughly 72,000 and is now pushing 80,000.

“Healthy development of our economy and a population increase in the last ten years has impacted business growth positively. Jonesboro’s business community members are outstandingly supportive of each other locally and across the state,” she said.

During the next 5-10 years, Sara McDaniel said their main goals are to improve sales and profitability. They would also like to expand into another part of the state if the opportunity was right.

“As an employer of young people who tend to be highly involved, we try to support the interests and organizations of our staff. We want them to maintain the personal interests that contribute to overall happiness. For most people, Lost Pizza Co. is just a stepping stone to a more long-term endeavor or career, while a personal interest or work with a nonprofit could be a life-long commitment,” she added.

Other finalists in the small business category, which you can read more about here, include:

MorningSide Coffee House (Batesville)
Founder: Wes Obrigewitsch
Year founded: 2004
Line of work: Coffee shop
Website: morningsidecoffeehouse.com

Rothrock Drug Company (Blytheville)
Owner: Kathy Rothrock Elliott
Year founded: 1945
Line of work: Pharmacy
Website: facebook.com/rothrockdrug

Wilson Cafe (Wilson)
Vice president of leadership development, culture and culinary experience: Steven Ouelette
Year founded: 2011
Line of work: Restaurant
Website: eatatwilson.com