Dough management outdoor logistics

Hello to all and Doctor Dough,

My wife live in Florida and I are in the planning stages of a mobile wood fired oven pizza business. Many hours spent here and other places, talked to a few individuals doing the same concept etc… One thing still not clear on our minds and that is how to effectively manage our dough from the moment we take it out of a refrigeration (after proofing etc.) to the vending site and throughout the vending hours. Some questions come to mind… What is the most cost effective way to transport the dough balls and what equipment such as Igloo coolers, Cambro, etc. makes the most sense? Considering that we are a two person operation(at least for now) what work flow would make the most sense to keep the dough balls workable and ready for to be used? Any other suggestions are very much appreciated

Thanks :smiley:

I, too, live in Fla & have thought long & hard about the concessionaire biz…

I have a friend who makes a boatload of cash doing BBQ & such…

Its a tough biz & I’m not sure the #'s will support a decent living…

Have you been in the pizza biz b4 or as a concessionaire?

Where are you getting your dough from? Are you making it or buying a frozen dough ball…

How are you going to get from site 2 site across the state(s)? Where will you find a successful series of venues that you can sell that don’t already have an established pizza vendor (big problem…)

Can you sell 500 pies/day/3 day weekend @ $5/pie? (assume a personal size pizza…$270K gross/year…what is your net?)

I love the idea, but…

I’d invest in a brick & mortar spot 1st…let me know if that interest you, as I might have an idea 4 that…

But back to your dough management Q…If using frozen dough balls, would invest in a trailer & install a coolbot a/c system & turn it into a mini walk-in & temper the dough in the case & press out as needed, once defrosted…

Roma/PFG has a nice dough in puck form & you can find some other brands in a flattened form as well…

You really need to include some form of electricity/generator as well…to keep the amount of cheese needed & cooled too…


My approach would be to transport the dough balls “refrigerated” that is, made yesterday, and stored for 18 to 24-hours under refrigeration, to the mobile site where that will be held under refrigeration. I would have a heated shelf (Prarie View Industries/ <>) set at 165F where I would place the oiled dough balls needed to make pizza skins on. The dough balls are placed on the heated shelf for about 60-seconds (30-seconds on each side) to facilitate warming them slightly. The dough balls are then ready to manually open into skins and dress to the order. We have used this procedure with good success, and there is also a small chain doing this quite successfully too.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor


Patriot’s Pizza… Thank you very much for your questions… as far as our background and goals…we have “0” experience selling food, however, we bring to the business many skills and other intangibles that will gives us a decent chance to be successful… Our goal indeed is to make a decent living, one that fits our fairly simple lifestyle (no need to own a brand new car nor a Rollex… :smiley: ) and that we can go to bed with a clear conscious that we made a effort to give people a pleasurable eating experience. We plan to purchase an WFO that will be set on a custom made trailer pulled by a vehicle. This will not be a self contained food truck. We will meet the health dept. requirements by purchasing portable units/coolers/generator etc. In Florida a temporary food vending license(1-3days) allows such a set up. We are not interested in a brick and mortar pizza business…that would be too confining for our lifestyle. We are also trying to stay away from frozen dough balls… our plan is to use a bakery or any other facility with commercial equipment and refrigeration that would allow us to make our own dough. Again, thank you for your perspective…maybe we will see you at the Orlando Pizza Show in September! :smiley:

Mr Lehmann,

Thank you for your prompt reply…I did not know of such a piece of equipment…sounds very practical. Does the quality of dough suffer by heating it in that manner? Will a Neopolitan/NY style of pizza be suitable? As far as refrigeration… we are planning on using Cambro or big Igloo coolers to keep our dough and other ingredients at its proper temperature… Our basic setup will be a three sink portable unit with a water heater, a hand washing piece sold by Cambro, several stainless steel tables and portable cooler for the ingredients… we are also considering a refrigerated rail that will hold our sauces etc… If you think of other options please let me know… Thanks again for your help. :smiley:

No, the dough quality does not suffer. We developed the procedure in response to a need to quickly get dough balls from the cooler to the make table in small shops where they don’t have the needed space for holding the dough balls during the tempering period. Remember, you’re not cooking the dough, just warming it. We plave the oiled dough piece onto the heated shelf, then press it down a bit to flatten it as we turn it over to be warmed on the other side. Remember, only 30-seconds per side.
Some stores like to get a dual use form the shelf so PVI now makes a stainless steel sleeve that fits over the shelf allowing it to also be used for a warming shelf to hold pizzas awaiting pick-up by the delivery driver. In cases such as this, the shelf is only used when they find that they are short on temperad dough balls for the make-line.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

Mr. Lehmann,

:smiley: :smiley: :smiley: :smiley: …sounds terrific… I will check the site.


I’ve been doing the mobile vending circuit for 20 years and it is difficult to find profitable shows. I lost money at more than 1/2 the events I did the first few years and still lose at about 1/2 of the new shows that I try. You’ll find that there are some promoters that will find a location for you at their event even though you’ll never have a prayer of seeing any foot traffic. Basically selling you a chunk of dirt for the weekend. As time goes on, you’ll find good promoters to work with that will avoid too many vendors selling the same product and keep the vendor count low enough so that the same vendors come back each year. Sometimes you just have to stick it out in a bad location until some premium real estate opens up.

As far as wood fired ovens go:
-I’ve seen a few wood fired pizza ovens on trailers and people sometimes have problems with the ovens cracking from the motion of the trailer. Clay and brick do not like the bouncing and torque that trailers experience.
-If you do find a rocking event, you’ll not likely keep up with the volume.

We make our dough on site and have 2-2 door true refrigerators to cool it and hold it. If you prepare your dough off site, the health department requires this be done at a licensed facility. No home preparation is allowed. At least have someone with a restaurant sign off that your doing it at their place.

We typically temper the dough on top of the ovens in the MFG proofing boxes. Not so easy with a wood fired oven. The plate Tom recommends likely draws 1500 watts. Keep in mind that some shows will not allow generators and you will have access to limited electricity or it may cost $25-$200/20 amp circuit.

Hope this helps, Tom

I believe the profit model you seek will fail to materialize, as pointed out by BoulderCreek…I fail to see a method to keep/hold your dough from the time you set up (early Friday/late Thursday) until Sunday afternoon w/o refrigeration…

Tempering the dough will be the least of your problems…hauling enough to make a decent profit will be the challenge…

They make good frozen dough balls @ a fair price…easier to haul some frozen dough in the Igloo coolers than dough from the bakery…if you find a baker that will sell you a good product that works under those conditions…

I think you can find a good circuit in the South, but making a decent living w/o concession or real food service experience is a challenge indeed…IMHBCO


Bouldercreekpizza & Patriot’s Pizza, I do really appreciate sharing your perspectives and I will take them in consideration along with that of others who have helped us find solutions to the challenges of developing a successful mobile WFO pizza business…


HI, I live in Maine and started last year with mobile wood fired pizza and had a very good experince, we are still improving systems but our basic program has worked pretty well . i have been using frozen dough balls 20 oz from a commercial supplier who has been very helpfull to us. we take the dough out of freezer the night before and store it in the refrigerator of our prep rail and also store it in large ice chests depending on anticeapated volume for that day . we are selling by the slice so we make large pies and cut them in to 8 slices 3 different types veggie, pep,and cheese. feel free to contact me for more info. we build our own brick oven and it has done better then i though it wood. WS