Another noobie question about ovens!

OK guys…I’m sure this topic has been discussed adnauseam and some of you primodonnas will chastise me for the dumbarse question and yes…I totally lack Pizzeria experience… but…(drum roll in the background)

From a businees model perspective…is there any reason why I shouldn’t choose a wood burning brick oven style oven for my business?



I loved the wood burning oven that we used in one of my first pizza shops that I worked at, It takes more skill than say a conveyor, and depending the volume may be less.
But there are plenty of business models that it works great with

Two things come immediately to mind . . . okay three.

  1. adequate space for the footprint of pratical use

  2. Expense of installation of unit, fire retardant materials for walls, etc, and fire suppression

3 (the biggest) is adequate production volume. Will it bake enough pies per hour to meet your projected peek demand? Find out the maximum through-put of the model you are envisioning and compare it to the figures on your plan for max pies you have to pound out.

OAKY . . .four.

  1. skill and trianing required to bake exceptional pies in the oven. If you have a skilled workforce to choose from, and can afford experienced pizza guys, this becomes less critical. A chimpanzee can put ies on a conveyor and take them off at the end. Wood fired (as in fire inside the oven) takes a little more finesse and committment to the process. Training and supervision resources required.

I love you Nick!!

I thought we were keeping that a secret . . . Dave will never forgive me. :slight_smile:

Ill name my first pizza after you!!!

And just because I use a conveyor oven doesn’t mean …

I will never forgive my parents for me having a hairy back :cry:


The oven must match-up with your store concept. For example, a wood fired oven may not be the best oven for a DELCO type operation, ditto for a pizzeria just down the street from the local highschool.
The oven must also be compatible with the type of pizza being made. For example, if your pizza’s claim to fame is based on the abundance of vegetable toppings, a wood fired oven may not be the best choice.
Space is a major consideration as is the fact that wood fired ovens are not roll in type ovens.
Building code/land loard approval is still another consideration.
Wood fired ovens require operator training.
A wood fired only oven will require someone to feed the oven 365 as it can take a full day for it to come back to temperature if allowed to cool.
I’ve written articles on this topic, and infact, I just sent in another article on this exact topic. I’m not against wood fired ovens, in fact, I like them a lot, but like any other type of oven, they do have their place, and since the oven will be your single most expensive piece of equipment, I highly encourage anyone contemplating buying an oven to look at, and study all of the options available. All ovens will bake a great pizza, they do have that one thing in common, from that point on, each travels a different path (some bake faster than others, some have amviance, some don’t, some are easy to operate, some have a small foot print, some are quite portable, some need to be built in, some are noisy, some are quiet, the list goes on and on. Define YOUR concept, then find the oven that best works with it and you will have the fewest problems down the road.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

All ovens will bake a great pizza, they do have that one thing in common, from that point on, each travels a different path (some bake faster than others, some have amviance, some don’t, some are easy to operate, some have a small foot print, some are quite portable, some need to be built in, some are noisy, some are quiet, the list goes on and on. Define YOUR concept, then find the oven that best works with it and you will have the fewest problems down the road.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

Tom hits the nail on the head again. One point about wood burners, if you do not have the best type of wood for the project I have been told it can mess up the operation of the oven. I have no clients using wood burners, perhaps someone can comment on the quality of the wood required.

George Mills

OK experts…You guys rock. :lol: The concept I’m pursuing is rather simple but the practical implementation and long term viability is what I’m hope to grasb from you.

The concept is a really cool pizzeria (picture old warehouse look with exposed ductwork) relaxed ambiance, rock n roll music, wifi, great selection of beer. This is why I’m leaning towards the brick oven style. I’m building from ground up so my options are wide open. I plan to offer pizza, subs, salads, gelato and desert pizza. I’m hoping to brand the place and connect on 4 different target audiences.

  1. Commuters on the newly opened highway stopping in the convenience store and grabbing pizza by the slice
  2. Students and teachers from the college 700 students (across the highway) opening end of 09 and high school with 600 students (1 mile south of intersection currently open)
  3. Construction workers in the area building the 15,000 planned homes and 700 acres of commercial development (this is a master planned community just getting ramped up) construction for the model home is complete and they are beginning sales of resedential homes
  4. People living in the community for sit down and to go orders (as mentioned, there is no competition in the area)

I think the brick oven concept would work well with the planned community…What do you guys think? I realize if you look at this endeavor strictly from a business perspective, maybe another type of oven would be a bit more viable but, after 15 yrs in the corporate world and travelling the world over and over, I need to build a place that I would really enjoy spending time in…this is why I’m leaning towards wood burning oven type pubish pizzeria.

While we’re on the subject, what brands of wood burning ovens do the experts recommend? (sorry cause I know this has been discussed in great details as well over the years

Is it too early for me to expreee my love to everyone?


I really think your “dream” isn’t viable - sorry…

Having done a C-store/pizza operation I don’t think you’ll get the demographics you seek…

A C-store is just that…combining it with an mildly associated pizza op will not help the pizza op…

Those going to the C-store are going there 4 a reason & chances are its not because of your pizza - its 4 gas/smokes/etc -

You’ll always be fighting the perception of "gas-station"pizza, brick oven or not…

Construction workers want food fast & lots of it…

Do you see any Red Brick Pizza’s @ a C-store? Granted, they have a brick oven…ambiance…and they’re fast…

Think long & hard my friend…there might be a reason there’s no pizza spots around…

Even if it’s a separate operation? Kinda like a strip shopping center with pool suplies neighboring a sub shop I don’t understand why both can’t be viable???

I’m not disagreeing just trying to learn. I’m building a 5000 sq ft buildding (2000 pizzeria and 3000 C-store) Are you recommending I build separate buildings?


Sometimes we spend too much time trying to re-invent the basic wheel…

I feel you need to invest more time & consideration in your dream…mine cost me a few $$$…

The biz plan was sound (in my eyes/mind) but in reality wasn’t as successful as the “plan”…

a 5K sq.ft. building dosen’t = a strip mall/center…

I’d focus on the C-store side, with an oil lube/carwash etc - make the food inside the c-store great…there is much info on an upscale c-store op…

The pizza operation can wait a bit longer…

Thanks so much for the feedback. Take the c-store out of the equation an let me know if a pizzeria alone based upon my projections would work. Does the currentl demographics support a pizzeria? (above options 1 - 4)

I have 2 pieces of property but it doesnb’t makes sense to build on both locations…

warm regards,


Get to know the industry. Find out who the major players are in the oven game. Find out what products they have available. Took 30 seconds for me to go to Bakers Pride website and find their line of fancy display deck ovens.

Trees may be getting in the way of the forest. Find someone you trust where you live. Find someone who knows businesses and has restaurant experience. Run the idea by them and ask about the issue we have mentioned . . . . brand confusion. If you can get featured on “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives”, then you could be big news. Otherwise, there is a reason places like he features make his show . . … they are REALLY uncommon to succeed. I do believe you could make this convenience store pizzeria restaurant work with the disconnected marketplace positioning. It will take incredible marketing, branding and operations creativity and motivation. It will take a crystal clear vision of what the place is and how the marketing plan will work. Otherwise, it will be another statistic of failed restaurants inside 6 months.

What I am saying is that it could be a spectacular success if you do it right and get some good fortunes. The C-store attached to it will be a large hinderance to that success instead of a bonus. You will have to overcome that stigma and public perception to succeed. I would need to see actual, real current deomagraphics to give a better suggestion about success. IF the development happens as planned . . . . IF people come in to buy houses in time to support your business . . . IF the state doesn’t divert fnuding from the highway expansion . . . . IF the commercial side comes in and doesn’t put in food places that overwhelm your potential client base.

BTW, is it possibly a Stan Thomas development?

Hi Gesb

It appears you have two threads going.

You are getting a lot of great advise from operators.

What ever format you select we again state as in your other thread.

We have supplied Layout and design service to thousands of pizza shops. About 600 to outfits in the top 25.

We have designed Pizzerias in party stores, In conjunction with gas stations, in super markets, in conjunction with sports bars and pool halls in addition to the various traditional environments.

At no charge to you we would like to do a floor plan for your project.

If interested in our free input please contact me at

George Mills

Tom, I was wondering why exactly an abundance of vegetable toppings doesn’t go well with a wood burning oven? I want to start up a pizza place in São Paulo, where wood burners are extremely popular, but I myself like to use tons of vegetables in most of my pizzas, so I’d be better off just getting one those gas burning deck ovens that I’ve been eyeballing?

The reason why the air impingers handle the heavily topped, vegetable pizzas so well is due to the high air flow characteristics of the oven. When focused down, onto the top of the pizza, it has a dramatic drying affect upon the water released from the vegetables during baking, resulting in a dry or at leart drier top on the pizza. Wood burning ovens, or any of the conventional deck ovens, for that matter, don’t have this focused air flow to the top of the pizza, they only have a conbination of radiated heat and what little convection heat/airflow there is. An easy way to look at it is to think of a hair dryer being played over the top of a pizza while it is being baked in the air impingement oven.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

Thanks for clearing that up for me. So it’s all about the air impingers, then. I’ll have to see if there’s a good air impingement oven that’s available in my price range… or else just take extra care with my vegetable layouts and keep the water out of my tomato sauce!

When I work with a wood burning oven, my all time favorite presentation is as follows:
Open the dough ball into a dough skin and place onto a short handle, wood prep peel with a dusting blend to help slide the dough off of the peel. A good dusting flour blend is equal parts of semolina flour, fine corn meal, and regular pizza flour.
Lightly brush the dough skin with garlic infused olive oil, then randomly apply about a tablespoon of minced garlic to a 14-inch dough skin.
Apply a scattering of fresh, green leaf basil and oregano.
Apply slices of fresh tomato, ot use canned tomato fillets that have been well drained. You don’t need to go for 100% coverage, just something that looks good.
Then apply the cheese. I like to use fresh, whole milk Mozzarella. Peal and tear it and put it on in random pieces rather than shread or diced.
Then apply a sprinkle of shredded Parmesan, and a light sprinkle of powdered Romano. Apply desired toppings, remembering not to get carried away, and bake.
This makes for a truly great pizza, and best of all, it doesn’t look like anything that comes from any of the major chains.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor