New store owner!

Hi everyone and thanks for being here! My wife and I are purchasing a 40 year old small pizza shop in a working class, ethnic neighborhood. The area isn’t well-served by big chains and there is one other mom and pop shop down the road that is doing real well. We are buying building, contents and business for what seems like a good price. The current owners purchased it from the original Greek family who had run it for 35 years to that point. They have had tragedy in their family and have let the business slide - open sporadically and offering less service/menu - for the two years since the tragedy. They are now selling.

I think the place has great potential. The name of the place is well known in the neighborhood. The location is on a major street in the area with great signage. It is small and there is potential for A seating for 14-18.

A neighboring businessman told me that he felt if we offered a big, inexpensive sandwich, we would be busy all day with truckers and the traffic flowing through the area. I like the idea and think it would really add to the success.

I have a couple of questions right now that I hope you can help with.
The ovens in the place are not conveyor. I have not made pizza in these old school ovens before and I am afraid of the consistency I would get. It seems like much more of an art to master an oven full of pies.
Is it possible to make a sandwich inexpensively with meat piled high? I am thinking of using one of the many local bakeries as bread supplier, and not offering a huge array of toppings, but is there an opportunity to make a thick sub inexpensively. We are not afraid of smoking and preparing meat ourselves.

I see us as differentiating ourselves with value and quality. This neighborhood will respect a quality value meal. And of course we must treat everyone like family here - or fail…

Thanks guys.

others with more deck oven will contradict me, likely, but here’s what I’ve gleaned from my limited use of decks:

They can make a terrific product even better.

They can make a great product pretty horrible.

They can make your life wonderful or very hard.

Seriously…you have to learn the oven. Get several oven thermometers, put them inside together (well, spread out across the deck) and find the hot and cool spots. You’ll have to find your progression from hot to cool, how to rotate the food, and how to read the recovery time from the door opening.

Every time the door opens the temp changes. With many, the longer the door is open the more the temp change, which is somewhat normal. Some newer decks will compensate for that better than others, old or new.

It’s a whole 'nother ballgame…but with a little learning it can be great.

As for your sandwich…if your local bakery can’t give you a good price, find some frozen bread from your vendor. I found 12" rolls, good quality, which we’ll treat like Subway, cut 'em down to 6" and be done with it. I’d suggest not offering just one sandwich, but give the options of anything you’ll put on a pizza. Offer a veggie, too, with 3 or 4 veggies, some garlic butter, and cheese–customer’s choice. Don’t make the mistake that “working class” means people don’t have refined tastes and preferences.

Have fun with it, no matter what!

steve