Daniel Gutter’s Instagram account @pizza_gutt combines his last name with the restaurant chain Pizza Hut. It’s only fitting for someone who makes 80 pizzas every week.
Gutter, a 2011 criminal justice alumnus, has more than 5,000 followers on his Instagram account. He made his own business by being the self-proclaimed “first pizza shop” on Instagram, he wrote in his bio. Since August, he’s been a grill cook and guest pizza chef at W/N W/N, a bar and coffee shop on Spring Garden Street near 9th.
On his Instagram, Gutter posts photos of the gourmet pies he makes each week at W/N W/N. He then provides a link in his Instagram bio to Slotted, an online signup tool for customers to make reservations that week to buy his pizza. From Wednesday to Saturday, the 50 pies he bakes each night are for reservations and walk-ins at W/N W/N.
Gutter started his Instagram account a year ago after making a bet with his friend on who could reach 1,000 followers the quickest.
But he first began making pizzas at age 14 when he worked for Cocco’s Pizza part-time near his home in Delaware County.
During college, he began working on research grants with the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency at George W. Hill Correctional Facility in Glen Mills, Pennsylvania.
During his time at the prison, Gutter realized that law was not his passion. He started working for Pizza Brain, a pizza shop in Kensington, when his grants started to run out in 2012.
“That was an experience on its own,” he said. “I couldn’t see myself moving forward with the career. [It] was too much of a double life.”
From then on, pizza became a major part of Gutter’s life.
Gutter describes his pizza as “couture style,” or thin-crust pan pizza. He said this style is reminiscent of the slices Pizza Hut served during its ongoing BOOK IT! program, which was most popular during the 1990s and helped children win free pizza by reading a certain number of books.
“It’s supposed to kind of trigger that memory,” Gutter said. “It’s old ’90s pizza. It’s greasy. It’s cheesy. There’s cheese that goes right up to the end of the crust.”
Last year, Gutter started making wood-fired pizza in his parent’s garage in Spring Grove, Pennsylvania, because he had access to a brick oven there. But when it got cold outside, he switched to making pan pizzas to avoid the winter temperatures.
He began to do pop-up pizza making around Philly in places like Martha, a specialty craft beer bar in Kensington, and his current workplace, W/N W/N.
He would come to these pizza shops to cook, but he also had to clean the restaurant and serve customers.
“I just got started [doing pop-ups] by building relationships with other small business owners around town trying to like make genuine kind of friendships and not leverage those friendships, but like collaborate in different ways,” he said.
While Gutter was working at Pizza Brain, he met his friend and current business partner, Deepak Prabhakar, who began helping Gutter with his pop-ups by handling logistics and assessing customer satisfaction.
“We always want to make sure the customer has a good experience,” Prabhakar said.
Aggregating customer comments really allowed them to find out what worked for them and helped them grow in popularity, Prabhakar added.
Gutter made it a point to keep his social media account personal, yet still utilize it as a business model for his pizza sales. He said he continues to post pictures of animals — not just pizzas.
“It lets people see more of who I am,” he said. “They know it’s always me.”
Gutter plans to continue his work with W/N W/N for one year and then possibly open his own pizza shop.
“I’m not reinventing the wheel or anything,” Gutter said. “I’m just trying to add a social media aspect to it and hopefully everyone has a pleasant experience. That’s the main thing, customer service.”