Ask The Experts: Question for Tom Lehmann

Mr. Lehmann,

I’m in the movie theatre business. I have a concept I’m planning on creating at closed or older outdated movie theatres that are no longer able to be competitve in the marketplace. Movie Bistro will feature an eating enviroment with beer & wine and feature 1st run films. The first location we are looking at has room in the lobby for a pizzeria. Patrons will also be able to take their food into the auditoriums with them on a tray that fits into the arm rest cup holder.

It will be essentially two businesses under one roof. Synergistic as well. The pizzeria will feed off the 3000-4000 patrons the theatre will draw and the theatre will use the draw of the pizzeria.

Using the existing space of the theatre concession area back room we will avoid an expensive kitchen set up.
Our plan is to use electric impinger conveyor ovens (avoid a hood), pizza prep table, salad prep table and a walk in refigerator/freezer. Serving pizza, salads, appetizers, and desserts. We may also offer pasta and oven sandwiches.
The theatre concession stand will be be fully operational offering traditional theatre food fare.

We want to avoid an expensive kitchen staff and use the existing staff to make the food. We therefore don’t want to have to make the pizza dough but use a pre-made pizza dough or flat bread…any suggestions??

We would also like the pizza to be unique…is there anything you might suggest that would make use unique? Are different cheeses a "draw’, like smoked mozzeralla or Greek cheese?

I have a ton of movie theatre experience but none in the pizza/restaurant business. We may either hire somebody with restaurant experience or find a restaurant partner. Any suggestions? Suggestions on where to look for the partner?

Thank you!
Scott Cassell
Stadium Theatres

First off, I’m betting that you WILL need a hood over your proposed electric air impingement oven. When you bake anything, you release many products that you don’t want trapped in your building. What a mess this will create over time, especially when one considers how many pizzas you’re planning to bake. Better run this one across your codes department before ordering an oven. If you’re wanting to make a great pizza, as well as reduce the baking time for a better turn around, I’d highly encourage you to go with a gas air impingement oven. They are significantly more efficient than an electric oven.
As for a crust, look at products from TNT (Green Bay, Wisconsin), Tomanetti’s (800-875-3040), K.B. Pizza (814-432-2464), Teeny Foods (Portland, Oregon), and be sure to check out the classified section of your PMQ Magazine. You’re going to have to solicit samples and test them to find something that you like. Remember, you can always “signature” your crusts by brushing them with a savory oil. As for the cheese, My own personal favorite is the Fleur de Latte from Grande. I put this on the pizza with a little Ricotta and a finish of angel hair shread Parmesan. This makes for a great presentation and a much more flavorful cheese than any straight cheese. Keep the amount of cheese down to about 5 or 6-ounces for a 12-ince pizza.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

Hi Tom,

Just saw your reply.
Thank you very much for the the information. It is obvious you have been around the block a time or two!

Again, thank you!

Hi Tom,

If I may ask you another question.

It’s looks like we are going to work closely with a local Micro-brewer.
Have you ever heard of a pizza dough using “beer”. If we make the dough on site we thought that would add a uniqueness as well and great selling point.
A beer crust with your cheese combination you mentioned in your previous response…makes my mouth water.

If you have heard of beer in pizza dough…any advice or suggestions?

Thanks again!