1st night - - - - 7 months later

Well, after having slept on our first commercial night back in the saddle, whipping that pony for more speed, I’ll give you the debriefing. It might get wordy, but I’ll make it entertaining. We did limited announcement of our reopening to ‘ease into’ the market and make sure all the kinks are out. . . .

It was a dark and stormy night . . . . actually, 85F and clear except for the smoke haze from south GA forest fire (Okefenokee swamp). AC was on low until “showtime” due to a condensation leak in the attic that didn’t stay fixed . . . AC guy called. We spent 1st half hour prepping and setting up the stations for battle. A few things rearranged, some stuff we still forgot to set up, but we got through. We had one staff member we had sort of fired in the interim because he had said he would appear at our two work sessions setting up kitchen, then no-showed. Then, he called yesterday morning, and we gave him another chance . . . partly because he really is a good guy, and partly because it was Friday night, and we were afraid.

Let me just take the suspense out of it. We opened 5pm and regular close is 10pm. We stopped taking orders at 8:30p due to running out of dough (even frozen stuff) and needing to debrief the night to assess issues to solve. Our sales total in 3 hours was stupid!

[] 108% or our 2006 Friday average gross
] 115% of our Fri in last 4 months
[*] only THREE sales days higher since July

Let’s say that we are back in the business and still beloved. We didn’t have our clock up in the kitchen . . . mistake . . . and had no clue what time it was, only that we were getting killed and knew we were falling behind. The customers were ecstatic knowing food would come, and didn’t mind about the delays. We told them there could be delays if we hit any bumps in the kitchen since it was first night. Absolutely beyond our wildest dreams . . . and really thankful we chanced bringing the slack guy back in :shock: Overall, we didn’t miss a beat, and the new setups didn’t slow us too much. We got better as the minutes, pizzas and wings moved by.

We started the night with 7 pre-orders from previous night festivities, and orders right off the bat. Much to our alarm, the large dough balls . . . remember we use frozen dough balls . . . were not quite proofed. that is to say that they still had frozen little spots in the middle. Two trays were ready for action and the rest were frosty. Fired up the warming cabinet and deposited dough . . . 20 minutes should do it. That is IF the correct thermostat is turned on and IF there is not a short in the knob when we I figure out he turned the wrong one on. LONG night fighting dough management issues and losing time defrosting dough.

The new make line and cook line configurations worked out really well barring a couple adjustments needed for convenience. we need to make sure EVERYTHING is on the lines to reduce moving off the line to get goods. Very close quarters, so we need to reduce traveling still more. We will rearrange the dough/make/cut configuration because the flour/cornmeal trail ended up in a line of traffic, and it is slick like ball bearings even in slip resistant shoes.

Also, gotta find another flat surface for incidental prep and handling. Too little space right by cook lines for what we needed. Simple fix. Gotta find our oven brush!!! It worked out okay, but gotta have one after last night.

Having all the shelves set up in the coolers will make huge difference. We can arrange the goods as we need them. I am about 8 shelves short due to unexpected shortage in shelving clips for the reach-ins. I have 5 dozen on order, so I’ll have spares now. Relocating garbage cans better and getting smaller ones for cook lines to use, get the infernal warewasher in.

I know you all meant well, and you good wishes clubbed us like <>. We were and are exhausted and damn proud of it. we saw the customers and they were overjoyed to see our car topper running the routes. We shudder to think what would have happened if we had marketed the opening, and everyone knew :shock: That will be end of next week, and we are a little afraid . . . we’ll be ready by next week, I assure you.

So, not as amusing as it could have been . . . lots of amusing stories and jokes that are fun, but suck up space. We made rent for June so we are not out of pocket for that, our new commercial banker is a “hottie”, so the Think Tank should give her lots of help with her business, and the town is simply amazed we didn’t wither away and disappear.

<<fade in theme song "Tubthumping>>
[i] . . . we’ll be singing
when we’re winning . . . .

I get knocked down
But I get up again
Youre never going to
Keep me down . . . . [/i]

<edited for spelling 6/3/07>

There is somthing sublimely satisfaying about eating a simple cheese pizza from my own oven . . . especially after this long. I ate ONE pizza in the last 7 months, and it was PJ . . . not at all satisfying.

The one last night after closing . . . priceless.

(half traditional cheese for me . . . . the other half was garlic butter sauce, feta, garlic, artichoke heart, fajita chicken and spinach leaves . . . . sigh)

Sounds great Nick…Congrats…Royce…

Since you obviously don’t use a conveyor oven (needing the brush), we can’t make cracks about that. So, without further ado, if you’d buy a mixer, you wouldn’t have frozen dough :).

Glad you’re back in business. Let the good times roll.

I work with frozen dough balls as well. I’ve experienced trying to stretch dough with that little frozen pocket in the middle. lol Not fun.

Speed proofing by alternating trays of hot water and dough balls works really well in a pinch.


What is the name of your pizza shop? Someone just moved into an apartment here and they still have their old cell phone number and the caller-id says Altoona PA.


Vocelli Pizza

It’s so weird that you had a question for me because I had one for you. I saw your name associated with Fox’s. Is that Fox’s Pizza Den ? The owner of Fox’s Pizza Den, Jim Fox lived it my delivery area when I worked the corporate side of Vocelli Pizza back in Pittsburgh. He would stop in time to time.

^That was me, sorry.

Nick, Nick, Nick, Nick…



I’m so happy for you. I wish I could’ve been there. Congratulations brotha. You deserve nothing but the best.


That’s a tip worth the price of Think Tank admission. Gotta sock that one away for later!

(from other thread)

Turns out it was in the top 20 of our highest sale days in our 3-year history. That doesn’t suck at all, huh? I can only imagine what next week will bring when we start marketing the return.

Congratulations! You have been through an amazingly tough time renovating your new building, being out of business for so long, and you survived your first night!

I love hearing stories like yours because it reaffirms my belief that there are businesses and people who have real relationships. I am sick to death of companies who don’t care about customers and customers who take hard work and dedication for granted!

Baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet. I’m getting misty now…

You’ll REALLY get misty ina few months when we can afford to pop for one of your spiffy computer programs :smiley: I am leaning towards your POS, and am socking away money to be able to shell out the cash to get the hardware and software for a couple work stations at the end of this summer.

Of course, you are competing witha 4-seat bathroom, upgrading AC unit, new dining room, expanded lighting, ice machine, and new exterior facade, so it won’t be a no-brainer :wink:

And what about your personal beer fridge for those after work drinks from slamming nights.


AFTER we get a beer/wine permit. I had enough ‘personal attention’ from the jack@sses in town when I got my building permits :slight_smile: I do see some after work unwinding like you said.

A nearby town just got a new liquor store. It is across the street from some friends who run a lunch cafe that we frequent. I will be patronizing the new shop because we’ve been trying for 4 years to get hard cider at an affordable price, but the places in our town . . . the only three in the county. . . either refuse to stock it, or sell it for $2 more per six than any other place I’ve seen it. The new place owners remember my name after one visit and have offered to give us case pricing, and stock for our retail consumption. They’ve learned the lessons we teach about pizza.

Please be patient while I beat the horse one more time . . . .

We got an email today from one of our Friday customers. She has been calling us for a month checking on our opening date. It really is about making that personal connection. This lady had to wait probably an hour for our logjam to clear and get to her pizza. She sent this:


WOW that was great pizza!!! Hey Kim, this is <>, I was in on Friday and ordered a large pepperoni (fist time purchasing) and boy was that good! You were right, you just got yourself a new customer! I printed your menu off of the website because you had none left when I was there and there are no prices, do you have any with the prices yet? If you have a minute can you fax me one with the prices (# below)? I have several people here at work that love New York pizza and I have been raving about yours and they will want to order.

Thank you and have a great day!

she was referred by another customer. She works in a city called Peachtree City, nearly 45 minutes away, and she’s ‘stumping’ for us!! They have all the national chains, as well as Mellow Mushroom, that she and they will drive past to get to our little “Slice of Heaven”. We have got to build on that kind of referral success.

(proud and ready for the week)