New guy with a lot of questions.

Aloha everyone,
I own a successful business (non pizza/restaurant) and am very interested in opening a pizza shop in the next 1 1/2-2 years, depending on the economy. I don’t want to wait until last minute to perfect my recipes so I will be using the next two years to become a pizza makin’ expert. I plan on concentrating on NY style pizza. So far I have ordered some books from amazon. The books I ordered are,
How to Open a Financially Successful Pizza & Sub Restaurant
Shri L. Henkel; Douglas R. Brown

The Ultimate Pizza Manual: Make Pizza Like the Pros… Used To!
Francesco Brunaldo

American Pie: My Search for the Perfect Pizza
Peter Reinhart

The Art of Pizza Making: Trade Secrets and Recipes
Dominick A. DeAngelis, Suzanne Ling

Now here are my questions that I hope you guys can help me out with.

  1. After I open the pizza shop I plan on keeping my “successful” business and working there for at least a couple of years. I do not plan on being an absentee pizza shop owner but at best I or my wife will only be there 1/2 the time its open. Can this be done? Has anyone on this board done this?

  2. Can I get some opinions on www.pizzabusiness.com 's pizza books? They looked interesting but I couldn’t find any reviews of them.

  3. Over the next couple years I want to practice making pizzas every week at home. Can I get some suggestions on what equipment to purchase for home pizza? I am interested in purchasing some of the lloyd pans but I do not know which ones to get and also whats a good size to practice home pizza making with? Do I get the baking trays, the deep dish pan, do I order all three of the quick discs? and if so what size should I get?

  4. I need a real honest answer to this next one. Is it worth making your own sauce or is the Stanislaus sauce nearly as good? Homemade is always best but how much better is it? Especially if your target pizza is middle of the road price, not cheapy dominos and not gourmet. I need a downright honest answer to this.

  5. Finally, I was thinking of buying this Kitchenaid mixer for dough making at home. Is this a good idea or do you recommend something else?
    http://www.costco.com/Browse/Productgro … opnav=&s=1

Thank you so much for your help.

I think the 1st bit of advice all of us would give 1st, is to get a p/t j.o.b. in a pizza shop, perhaps as a driver/pizza maker/prep & see if it is really something you want to pursue…invest some time, then your dough…

I think that’s a good idea but it will be difficult for me. Like I said, I already own a successful business that I work in 5 days a week. I would take quite a financial hit, working at a pizza place for $10 an hour. Perhaps I can find a place that just needs someone twice a week in the evenings or something? This would be a great way to learn some insider ways before I open my own but what’s not to like?

I am looking at getting into the pizza business as a way of producing additional income.

In the mean time, could I get some advice on the questions I asked?

  1. I don’t know much about the books you have mentioned. (id like to write my own) The one author i’m surprised you didn’t mention was PMQ’s own Tom Lehman. He’s the Dough Doctor and someone you should def refer to. when building your crust.

  2. I hate to be the guy to say this but
    A) If you don’t plan on being in your pizza place open to close for the first year or two you better have some staff that really cares. The most important part of my opening was me shooting the sh… with my customers. Two years later I can now tell you their names, adresses, kids names, dogs names, profession. While this might sound crazy, me being personal with them helped us when people were patiently waiting for us to work out our kinks…Read every book you want, you will still have kinks to work out.
    b) Do you realize this is a cash business?..most likely when your not there your getting robbed. It may not even be cash.Employees giving free stuff, drinking bottled soda or water, eating. Will hurt your pockets.

I would say your biggest downfall is the fact that you wont be there and your going into this thing thinking it. What happens when your manager slips and breaks his arm on the way to work. Will you be there? could you be there? Good luck

Hi Freddy…

Q1 - Yes, it can be done. It depends on the caliber/experience of the manager you have when you’re not there. Pizza may not seem like rocket science, but you had better be in good shape, have some first-class organizational skills and forethought to handle the peak times that you’re slammed with customers who expect their food on time and perfect.

Q2 - I’m not being coy, but I can’t see any downside to reading everything you can get your hands on.

Q3 - Get some discs, since you said you plan on making NY style. You can practice by making 12" pizzas. You can get a stone and use your home oven to understand the basics.

Q4 - Sauce is only one part of many parts in pizza, and there is nothing negative about using good canned sauce. I think the answer is that it’s fine. Making a proper dough and the right combination of toppings is probably more important. Now, others may have a custom sauce with a flavor that defines their “brand,” so they will place a higher value on sauce than I have. There are no absolutes, but I can’t see anyone going out of business because they used Stanislaus sauce.

Q5 - You don’t need a mixer, unless you want it to make cakes or something else. You can make five 12" pizza dough balls by hand from 1.1 kg of flour. Each dough ball will be about 350-360 grams and it only takes about 25 minutes - 10 minutes to measure and mix, 10 minutes of kneading and 5 minutes to oil them and drop them into plastic bags. It won’t kill you, and you get to appreciate what dough is supposed to feel like using any type of mixer later.

Sometimes the pizza business is not really the pizza business… it’s the flyer and marketing business. You can have the best pizza in the solar system, but you better have a good handle on location, consistency, the competitive environment, pricing, the sourcing of your ingredients, delivery management and overall cost efficiencies as they apply to the pizza business. Good luck and remember that there are others here with differing views because our markets are all different.

Can you recommend a good book by him?

  1. I hate to be the guy to say this but
    A) If you don’t plan on being in your pizza place open to close for the first year or two you better have some staff that really cares. The most important part of my opening was me shooting the sh… with my customers. Two years later I can now tell you their names, adresses, kids names, dogs names, profession. While this might sound crazy, me being personal with them helped us when people were patiently waiting for us to work out our kinks…Read every book you want, you will still have kinks to work out.
    b) Do you realize this is a cash business?..most likely when your not there your getting robbed. It may not even be cash.Employees giving free stuff, drinking bottled soda or water, eating. Will hurt your pockets.

Has anyone here put in a good camera system? I saw one yesterday that works through the iphone. You could literally watch your place 24/7 from your phone.

I would say your biggest downfall is the fact that you wont be there and your going into this thing thinking it. What happens when your manager slips and breaks his arm on the way to work. Will you be there? could you be there? Good luck

This definitely is my weak point. In my market I predict doing about 50-60 percent tourists. This is where location is really really important. My other business is only 20 minutes away. ( i live on an island). and I can be at the pizza shop within 30 minutes, so a emergency is not a problem.

It’s really only afternoons that I can’t be there. I am free after 4pm at my current business. I assume in the pizza business the majority of the business is done between 5-10pm?

Q2 - I’m not being coy, but I can’t see any downside to reading everything you can get your hands on.

Q3 - Get some discs, since you said you plan on making NY style. You can practice by making 12" pizzas. You can get a stone and use your home oven to understand the basics.

Thanks, I’ll get some 12 "discs and maybe a pan style to practice pan pizza.

Q4 - Sauce is only one part of many parts in pizza, and there is nothing negative about using good canned sauce. I think the answer is that it’s fine. Making a proper dough and the right combination of toppings is probably more important. Now, others may have a custom sauce with a flavor that defines their “brand,” so they will place a higher value on sauce than I have. There are no absolutes, but I can’t see anyone going out of business because they used Stanislaus sauce.

Thanks for the honest opinion.

Q5 - You don’t need a mixer, unless you want it to make cakes or something else. You can make five 12" pizza dough balls by hand from 1.1 kg of flour. Each dough ball will be about 350-360 grams and it only takes about 25 minutes - 10 minutes to measure and mix, 10 minutes of kneading and 5 minutes to oil them and drop them into plastic bags. It won’t kill you, and you get to appreciate what dough is supposed to feel like using any type of mixer later.

That’s a good idea, learn how make by hand and mixer.

Sometimes the pizza business is not really the pizza business… it’s the flyer and marketing business. You can have the best pizza in the solar system, but you better have a good handle on location, consistency, the competitive environment, pricing, the sourcing of your ingredients, delivery management and overall cost efficiencies as they apply to the pizza business. Good luck and remember that there are others here with differing views because our markets are all different.

Reading this forum last night that seems to be the main reason people don’t make it. Not having enough money on the back side after they open to continue marketing and promotion. Thanks for all the good info!

No offense to anyone, but, everybody can read a book, go buy some canned sauce and frozen dough and make a pizza. Where is the individualism? Perfect your recipes, work in an environment that will teach you the in’s and out’s of the business. It really is a must. Hands on always seems to work better then Just book smarts.

In your other business, do you know inventory control, marketing, payroll, food costs, insurance for your drivers and your business, routing multiple deliveries, delivery charges, do you know where to order food and what brands you would like to use? How about directing the crew to where you come off earning the respect instead of demanding it? Do you know where to cut costs if you’re not making as big of a profit as possible without changing your product? Quality is key, finding your market niche is just as important. Is your market over saturated with pizza places, or is there room for one more.

Reading over the posts in the Think Tank is the best place to start. A good boook is the “One Minute Manager”, I believe that’s the title. But experience is the #1 place to really obtain all the answers to your questions.

Just my 2 cents!!

That’s why I bought books and was looking for the correct baking instruments. I want to practice and learn how to bake the “perfect” pizza. I never said anything about not having individualism. I’m green and I said that. I want to learn as much as I can before opening the shop. I have read MULTIPLE posts on this site about people opening shops and not even having a recipe yet. I’m not going to be one of those guys. But its not real practical to go work at a pizza place and take a 70% percent pay cut to learn how to make a pizza.

In your other business, do you know inventory control, marketing, payroll, food costs, insurance for your drivers and your business, routing multiple deliveries, delivery charges, do you know where to order food and what brands you would like to use? How about directing the crew to where you come off earning the respect instead of demanding it? Do you know where to cut costs if you’re not making as big of a profit as possible without changing your product? Quality is key, finding your market niche is just as important. Is your market over saturated with pizza places, or is there room for one more./

I already mentioned that my other business is NOT in the restaurant field. So the answer to most of your questions is of course no. I live in Hawaii, so no there is not a lot of pizza places.

Reading over the posts in the Think Tank is the best place to start. A good boook is the “One Minute Manager”, I believe that’s the title. But experience is the #1 place to really obtain all the answers to your questions.

Just my 2 cents!!

I will check out that book. Thanks for the advice, its appreciated.

Perhaps I’m missing something but there seems to be a bit of an enigma to some of the advice.

First, I assume most of you who own pizza shops, worked in a pizza shop before you opened.

Most recommend working in a pizza restaurant to know the in’s and out’s. Now while I agree that nothing beats personal experience, how did most of you work in a pizza shop for low wages and then open your own shop for $70,000+?

I live in a VERY expensive place and the guys who make pizza’s here make about $10-$12 an hour. How does one who has experience and little to no money, open there open pizza shop? The only thing that comes to mind is that maybe its much cheaper to open a pizza shop where you live?

Freddy,

Yes you can open a pizza shop and make it successful being an absent owner but it is not an ideal situation…

Read the books, they certainly can’t hurt…

Canned sauce is ok but take the two years and tweak it till you find recipes you like…

Everyone’s advice about working in a pizza shop before is some of the best advice you can get. No one has said to stop your other business and do that full time. Opening a pizza shop is a huge investment of money and time, I would not make that investment without putting in some time in a successful shop. Keep your other business going and work 20 hours a week part time in a pizza shop…might be hard for a while working that much but it is going to happen when/if you open your own shop anyways so you might as well get the experience…

$70,000 around here may get you half of a pizza place.

Call me crazy but I don’t believe a canned sauce is going to give you a “perfect Pizza”. I could be wrong but I’d say deck or conveyor ovens will give you a different experience than your oven at home.

The advise of working in a pizza is great advice. The advice was not to give up your day job and lower your standard of living. I spent 15 years as a part-time delivery driver. My real job was in IT. I drove Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evenings. As driver you have the chance to watch what is going on in the shop and can learn a great deal. A plus to being the delivery driver is it is probably the highest paid position in a del/CO operation.

Could you break down how you spend $140,000 on a small/medium place that makes pizza? (Assuming you go into a space that was formally a restaurant.)

Also I want to make it clear I did not say I was going to be an absentee owner. I said I would be there 50 percent of the time its open.

Nobody thinks its a bit unethical to work for another pizza place with the explicate motive to steal their knowledge to open a competing business? It feels a little wrong to me. :oops:

Equipment =$75,000
Buildout = $55,000
Inventory = $10,000

Is it wrong for a person to apprentice under a master then set out on their own when they have learned the trade? I think not.

You guys are definitely the experts but that formula seems way to high to me. How can it cost $55,000 for build-out if you open in a place that was previously a restaurant? As far as equipment goes I plan on purchasing a majority of my items second hand. I’ve got two years to search out used equipment. You would have to be pretty well off to buy all your equipment brand spankin’ new on your first pizza shop.

Did the rest of you spend $75,000 on your equipment on your first shop? What are you spending on your ovens and freezer? $35k?

I’m not trying to be argumentative, I really want to learn all I can, I’m just shocked that it would cost this much for a first shop. My numbers brought me in around $60k with an additional $10-15k for promotion and misc. over the next two years.

Brand new equipment in a brand new location.
Fax Machine 120
Safe 170
Pizza Warmer 2000
Telephone System 1500
Walk in Cooler 7000
Shelving for Walkin Cooler 1000
Dough Mixer 7700
Veg Prep Sink 400
Dough Table 500
Pot Stove 1000
Veg Prep Table 250
Reach in Freezer 4000
Can Rack 350
Reach in Cooler 3000
Pizza Prep Table 6000
Dish Sink 1000
Pizza Ovens 20000
Cut Table 400
Pan Box 150
Microwave Oven 100
Pop Cooler 2100
Meat Slicer 800
Tables 600
Chairs 1000
Small Wares 5000
Delivery Bags 300
POS system 7000
Sub Total 73440
Sales Tax @ 5% 3672
Total 77112

I was thinking of going this route.
http://cgi.ebay.com/PIZZA-OVENS-PIZZA-P … 45efc81574

says that $$ for a complete store :lol:

did you get a quote for shipping to Hawaii :shock:

It would be cheaper to ship all that then to piece meal ship individual items from mainland. Shipping would probably run about $4000 from there to here.