Need some advice - huge pizza order

Got a call for an event in our area selling pizza by the slice to 15,000 people.

I have Middlby Marshall conveyors and was wondering if anyone has had experience with making 1,000+ pizzas going to the same location.

We are doing a round-robin with 3 drivers to keep the pizzas showing up fresh, but have no idea how we will be able to cook 1,000+ pizzas in a 4 hour time window.

Any ideas are appreciated.

A few questions:

  1. Are you going to be the ONLY food vendor there? If no, will you be the only pizza vendor there?

  2. What are you / they selling the slices for?

  3. What kind or event is it, is there a general admission there?

  4. How long will a delivery take round trip, including parking, dropping the pizzas, and walking in the door. If you haven’t planned the route, make sure you do, this will be important.

It is my thought that while the event may be expecting 15,000 that is usually an overshot estimate. Even so not every one of those in attendance will eat there, and if there are more vendors you will be sharing those who do. If the event is entirely only 4 hours, I actually think a large portion will plan to eat before or after (especially if the pricing will be significant and / or there is an entry fee).

Any details you can provide will help us help you better

  1. We are sharing the concessions with the school. They will only be selling hot dogs. Other than that we are the only food option.

  2. Slices will be sold for $2

  3. It is a local high school hosting a Football game against our NFL team. There is no admission fee.

  4. Delivery from us to the location will take (what we estimate) 15 minutes including the traffic from the game.

Thank you for any help you can provide

This may be a huge opportunity or a big “blunder”…If you fail to live up to the expectations of the crowd in terms of service and quality, you may end up losing them as future customers at your “real” business…This is a huge “risk”…Proceed with great caution…

My exact thoughts.

If you have a way to keep the pizzas hot, start way early and get as many pizzas there right before the event. Figure out how many you can do each 15 minutes and keep the deliveries going.

15,000 people at the event does not mean you will sell a slice to even half of the crowd. Unless you are set up to do this well you will be set up for failure. How will you be serving the slices? How do you keep things hot while waiting? do you have the staff required to man both the pizzeria and the location where you are selling slices? What will happen to your regular orders during the madness that an event like this causes?

Just a few more questions to answer not trying to rain on your parade.

What ovens do you have? Can they produce 1000 pizzas in 4 hours? Can your staff? 4.16 pizzas a minute is tough to pull off, so i wouldn’t (couldn’t) try making them fresh. Would need to find a way to hold them, preferably (obviously) hot. Got enough room to hold them? Bags for delivering? Boxes? Ingredients in general? Not impossibly by any means but tough. Would be like cramming days worth of work into a very short amount of time. Would it pay off? What if you make 1000 pizzas and sell 250? When do you/they decide enough is enough, or do you have to make all 1000 and hope for the best? Will they tell you to stop midway through if nobody is buying them or do you eat the remaining pies? Paid in advance? Can you use the remaining ingredients that you prepped if there is extra left over assuming you undersell by a lot?

I’d be dumb enough to try this, but I am in a situation to (barely) pull it off and rebound if it’s a flop. I don’t know your situation so it’s hard to say. I have a box truck and 5 food warmers, 6 or 7 big bags and even that would be a bitch to deliver, plus depending on the time these are going out I’d have to stop general production for my regular “pay the bill” customers.

Also, 15k people visiting your restaurant is nowhere near the same as setting up shop at an event with 15k people that aren’t showing up just to eat your food. You could end up selling to 5 percent of these people, who knows? Sorry to sound so negative I just want to point out some worst case possibilities.

On the other hand, it could be done smoothly somehow and make you a nice penny.

Did a few 20+k events but we brought our gear on location and set up a booth! Fun times!

How many feet of serving space do you have?
If you have 10’ to serve customers you would likely have 2 point of sales(maybe 3). A really efficient server could do 3 slices per minute but with people fumbling for their money it may be closer to 2 slices a minute per server. With 2 servers per 10’ that would be 4 to 6 slices per minute per 10’ or serving space. You can complete the math based upon your slice count per pie and actual serving space. You’re better off selling larger slices for more to overcome this slice/minute limitation and by extension $/minute. We sell our jumbo slices for $5-7/slice at events for this reason.
Events like this tend to have 2 pulses. The first being pre-game and then a major slam during a 1/2 time break. Based upon the server math and the limited serving time, I suspect your pizza number will be quite a bit less then 1,000.
A great opportunity nevertheless.

Which Middlby Marshall’s do you have? Big difference in terms of capacity between 200’s, 360’s, 570’s, etc.?

Completely brainstorming here so take what makes sense for you…I think a number of posters have already pointed out that the actual slice count sold may be less than the 15K (1 slice per person) and I would agree with this, and I see Pizza99 just pointed out that there would two bigger rushes, before the kickoff and halftime so your actual window may be different than what you are thinking?

1.) As much as many of us might hate this option is there anyone you could or would partner with in your town - we had an order that had to have 1200 pizzas delivered withing 45 minutes of each other one time, and the Dominos store whose area it was had to enlist the help of 6 other stores in order to meet that requirement. I don’t know if you are independent or franchise but the same concept could apply if you are willing to share?
2.) It is a very popular thing now in larger cities to be able to rent shared kitchens…we have at least a half dozen places (Detroit) that will rent a fully equipped commercial kitchen by the hour, I don’t know if any would have converyor pizza ovens, but the price is relatively cheap…maybe 20-30/hour.
3.) I was going to suggest that you could cut the pizzas into MORE slices to make a smaller number of pizzas go further, but again I think pizza99 might have some good points…it would seem at first calculation that the ovens would be the limiting factor but serving capacity might actually be a bigger bottleneck. I have done a lot of festivals and three of us working a tent for 10 hours go through 200-250 pizzas in a DAY and we are working pretty hard to get those slices out there, again with some peaks and valleys in demand. Actually going through 250 pizzas in an hour, might need a crew of 10+!
4.) Have a damage control plan in place…if you run short, hand out an aggressive rain check style offer for anyone who wants to stop by the shop after the game and grab a pizza or order delivery - seems to me this is when you might really make the money anyway, when the game let’s out and everyone get’s home.
5.) Now, I am sure you don’t have NFL teams visiting your high school every week, but is it possible that you could get some sales numbers from a regular football game and extrapolate out, or project actual demand. Again, I have done more concessions orders for football games than I care to count, and I don’t think we have ever gone over 50 pizzas at a single game for concessions. Yes, those are crowds smaller than 15K, but they could help give a more accurate projection.

I wouldn’t worry about this being a big blunder. I see mostly opportunity! You will probably be able to crank out 5-800 pizzas depending on your actual oven model if you had to, but most likely you will sell a lot of pizzas but it will be a more manageable number. Worst case scenario if there was demand for 1000 pizzas and you could only supply 800, you would have a 16K day and you would have to do a little damage control…I will take a small hit to my reputation tomorrow for a 16K and money in the bank today any day of the week and twice on Sunday!

Good luck, what a fun problem to have!

I’ve been involved with a few of these huge orders too, and the only way that I have seen it possible to accomodate these large orders is to either rent or buy heated catering cabinets to inventory pizzas that you will be sending over the event. As you remove pizzas from the cabinets you will be replenishing them with fresh pizzas from your ovens, just remember FIFO. One of the orders that I worked on was an order for pizzas to a Denver Bronco’s game at Mile High Stadium! Wow!! We had an army of heated cabinets and we had to rent a truck to transport the cabinets in. Then too, the last one we decided to back away from as it was just too much to handle.
Good luck,
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

15 minutes each way? You will need at least two more drivers, plus hopefully someone at the venue to help them to unload if 1000 pizzas are actually needed. At 40 pizzas per delivery, 30 minutes travel time, 10 minutes added to load and unload pizzas, 3 drivers won’t come close to keeping up. Then take into account that there will be peak demand times(before kickoff, halftime) where the majority of pizzas are needed and you’ll really have the concession stand waiting on you. If this was my order, I would dedicate 6 drivers to it, have 2 helpers stationed at venue to help unload, 2 people at the store doing nothing but bagging up the order and loading it into drivers cars the moment they arrive. I would make sure I have at least 40 pizza bags that hold 10 pies each

But back to reality… It’s mentioned above that this demand is probably grossly overstated and I tend to agree. 8000 slices of pizza would require 6000 of the 15,000 people attending the game to eat pizza. How many concession stands does this venue have? Assuming 30 seconds per customer it would take 13 lines to serve that 6000 customers. In reality, only half the customers in line will order pizza so if they aren’t set up with 25+ cash stations, they can’t sell 8000 slices of pizza.

How many ovens (or totals lanes of pizza cooking)? What is the chamber length? What size pizzas? What cook time?

I can plug those numbers into a spreadsheet and be able to tell you your oven capacity per hour if you’re not sure what they can crank out max.

Typical vending events;
What I have learned from friends of mine that vend for a profession. You can count on 20% of the crowd to purchase food, then divide that by the number of vendors at said event. Factor in unpredictable weather, and you’ll see that this can either be highly profitable venture, or a horrible loss.

I hope all goes well.

Again, thank you everyone for the ideas!

For our operation, I am probably going to have to have 3 or 4 people in my back room making pizzas for this event only. That way my regular crew can still keep up with our regular Friday night business.

I am shooting for selling around 4-500 pizzas. This seems to be a little more realistic, and manageable.

Again all ideas are definitely appreciated!

Please keep them coming!

Utilizing one MM 570 at a time of 7:40 will allow you to cook about seventy 16" pizzas per hour for this order.

Just saw in an above post you’ll be serving 14" pizzas. My calculations show a single middleby 570 doing seventy eight 14" pizzas per hour at a 7:40 cook time.

How many points of sale will you have?