Lots of questions about Take and Bake Pizzas

A little background information…I currently own two pizzeria in a town of approximately 500k people and very few places offer take and bake. The reason I am interested in Take and Bake pizzas is that we do not deliver and think this would be a great alternative for our customers. We serve a very thin and crispy pizza with approximately 40 different toppings. I have recently been experimenting with some mixed results and some concerns.

  1. Our dough drys out and cooks too thin. Can you suggest a formula to alter our dough or an additive
  2. Any suggestions as far as display cases we can put in our existing restaurant?
  3. Branding is extremely important to me… What is the best way to package a take and bake pizza??
  4. If your customer decides to freeze the pizza, how long will they stay good and do you have to thaw the pizza before cooking
  5. We currently serve 10" and 14" pizzas. Should we offer both sizes or just one??
  6. Is there a book or some other publication where I can read the ins and outs of a take and bake biz??
  7. I have heard about stand alone take and bake restaurants doing well but would be interested in hearing from other pizza restaurants owners who have decided to add this as an option to their existing restaurant.

There is lot of discussion about this subject in the archives…It would be worthwhile for you to spend some time searching and reading…But my spin on it is, It seems the “take and bake” market is hard to crack versus Walmart and Costco…Good luck…

Keep in mind that T&B pizza will be different from your regular, dine-in pizzas. This is mostly due to the fact that the home oven isn’t as well suited for baking pizzas as the ones you have in your stores. Because of this, many T&B pizzas are formulated with upwards of 5% sugar or daity whey to help the crust brown in the home oven. Then, some will also contain a coated chemical leavening such as Wrise tonyo@wenrich.com at about 2% of the flour weight (in addition to the yeast) to provide additional leavening to the dough just in case the consumer mishandles the pizza by holding it too long, or freezing it. Check out the RECIPE BANK for my take and bake pizza dough formulas. As for packaging, some put the un-baked pizza on a piece of parchment paper, some use a piece of foil, but the best is probably an ovenable paper board baking tray from Pactiv <www.pactiv.com> or M-Press Packaging <www.mpresspac.com> as it is the most consumer friendly. Overwrap the dressed dough skin to hold everything in place, and box as you would a regular fully baked pizza. Be sure to provide full storage, handling, and baking directions with every pizza. This should begin with “remove plastic overwrap from the pizza”, just trust me on that!
Some great marketing ideas might include a “free” pizza stone. How you ask??? Well…it ain’t exactly free. Buy one of our special pizza stones (say for $10.00) for baking or take and bake pizzas and receive $2.00 off on each of your next five take and bake pizzas. Then you can put out some incentives too. For example, if you’re tracking customer sales, after the tenth purchase of your take and bake pizzas, they might qualify for a free gift, such as an apron, pizza cutter, or a drinking glass (all with your name, address, and phone number proudly displayed, of course. This helps to make the take and bake pizza more of a family event. The list is endless. We cover this topic pretty thoroughly in our upcoming October Practical Pizza Course ( October 18 to 22) <www.aibonline.org> or e-mail Jeff Zeak at jzeak@aibonline.org to get more information.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor