Pizza by the Slice?

I’m trying to crack the Lunch Time code in my area, but have been reluctant to sell “pizza by the slice”. I sell personal size pizzas, which are made fresh and can be customized to the customers’ likings. However, I get asked “Do you sell PBTS?” a lot. We tell them that we sell lunch pizzas that are made fresh, but I’m losing a significant amount of business because people just don’t have the time to wait during lunch.

I’ve never like the PBTS concept, but am I being short-sighted for not giving it more consideration? I just cringe to think about heat-lamps and soggy crusts. But maybe this clientele expects that degraded quality.

Any thoughts or suggestions are appreciated.

If you don’t like the By The Slice option you might try having some of your personal pizzas pre-cooked for those who just won’t or can’t wait.

Thanks Daddio for the suggestion. There’s not that much difference in precooking a personal vs. a Large cut into 8’s though.

One thought I had was to premake a bunch of personals “ready for the oven” and claiming 6 minute pizza or it’s FREE; with the caviat that if they want something “custom” that it would be more like 10 minutes. I haven’t tried it yet.

As for PBTS, what is the shelf life of a precooked pizza? Should it be thrown away after 15 minutes? 30 minutes? 1 hour? I know the C-stores probably keep their pizzas in the heat box all day. I’ve also seen places like Sbarros in the mall throw their slices back into the oven for a couple of minutes when it’s ordered. I wary though… If the heat box is maintaining an adequate safe temperature, then why would it need to be reheated? hmm…

I’ve done PBTS @ several locations…we bake the pie 90% done & display in an unheated case…customer orders a slice, back in the oven 90 secs, toss it in a NY box (paper plate)…our volume is enough that pies last less than an hour…but on the odd occasion, we toss 'em @ 4 hrs (state law)…we only make cheese, pepperoni & meat combos, as veggie pies look like crap in an hour & are not as popular as cheese…

In a word . . .texture. Crisps the crust back up and softens the cheese.

We do not sell slices for volume reasons (too little demand). We do sell flat bread pizzas on pita bread. They are big sellers, and are quick to make. 7" pita is pretty close to an 8-cut from a 16" pie. A little different from the regular pizza crust, but really, really good. That and a small salad for lunch is a $5 quickie when we were doing lunch.

"However, I get asked “Do you sell PBTS?” a lot. "

please enlighten me on what PBTS is.

PBTS= Pizza by the Slice

Patriot, you mentioned that you display the 90% cooked pizzas in an unheated case. Is that safe? I know that it’s cooked and the potential for any problem is signifantly reduced, but does the health dept. see it that way?
It is a very interesting idea though. It’s almost like par-baking the pizzas. I know I can test it myself, but what do you think about the quality? Another concern of mine is that the PBTS pizza would not be great and that would taint my “whole pizza” reputation. I would hate to have someone go home and say, “I had lunch there the other day and the pizza was not that good. I don’t want to order from there.”

Here in Florida the Health department allows for the use of time instead of temperature for food safety. Food can be removed from the safe temperature zone for up to 4 hours, but needs to be thrown out if not used in that time.

statute in GA allows for Time as control as well. Up to 4 hours outside temperature control environment . . . if food EVER reaches 70F temp during any part of that time (even in 1st 45 minutes), it may not be returned to temperature control. After 70F, just go on to 4 hours and chuck it.

My business is 70% PBTS, with 30% corporate catering and delivery. We are located downtown, and have a huge lunch walk-up. We do about 3/4 million a year in PBTS.
My suggestion to you would be if you are really serious about doing it, you must have the right equipment. Don’t skimp on “heat lamps” or lame pizza displays you see at the bowling alley.
We use 2 double decker Hatco Glo-Ray warmer displays. We offer 6 slices we carry everyday (cheese, vegi, supreme, pepperoni, sausage, and garlic chicken), we also offer a slice of the day (monday - can.bac/pineapple, tuesday-taco, wednesday - bacon double cheeseburger, thursday - BBQ chicken, friday - tomato basil), and lastly, we offer a slice of the week as well…i.e. combo pizza, or specialty pizza’s.
In addition, we have breadsticks and bosco sticks (cheese-filled breadsticks) that we hold in the display warmer.
Of course, we have salads, beverages, cookies, and whole pies.
If you are in the right market, advertise it well, and have fresh product on hand - it can be very lucrative.
Sammy B.

health regs in Fla say 4 hrs & out it goes…remember, pizza is a “bread” down here (& in NYC I reckon)…pies rarely stay out over an hour…some pie/toppings don’t look pretty, so I stick to the meats & cheeses…

you might offer PBTS during times of highest volume PBTS, ie BTS 11 to 1 and 4 to 6,
coud offer, like I do, 8" pizza, which is equivalent to 2 medium slices, 25 squre iches each…customers have to wait a few minute longer or call 15 minutes ahead for pick up, it’s working for me,

I may do PBTS certain hours in the height of the season here in AZ which is January,
hpe that helps,

I do currently offer 8" personal pizzas. However, I have a fast-paced, no time, type of lunch clientele. In other words, they need it now, or they’re gone (it’s kind of like that Mastercard commercial when people move from one line to the next when there’s a wait). Anyways, there are some that call ahead and come in and wait. But with a very busy gas station across the road and virtually no other “hot” food place around, I need something that people can come in and get on the run.

I did test out Patriots idea of 90% baking the pizzas and holding until they’re ordered. The results were decent. In fact, my employees had a tough time telling the difference between the “par-baked” pizza and a fresh one. The great thing about this is that I can finish off the pizzas in about 2 minutes! Thanks Patriot for the idea.

If I can perfect the process, I’m thinking about buying a big banner stating, “5 Minute Lunch Pizza or it’s FREE!” That should trigger some interest.

I appreciate everyone’s input.

My second location is a slice business. We do up to $4000 a day (record day) in slices and fountain drinks. At our first location we serve slices from about 11 to 1. We use Hatco warmers. The good quality product life is about 40 minutes but is better when we are busy and the slices are turning in 10-20 minutes.

We make 16" pies, fully cooked and slice into 6 slices. The warmer holds the pizza above 140 degrees which keeps the health dept happy.

For us the key service element is speed. 6 minutes is way too long for this customer.

Slice business is huge in my place (65%) and without it we would be a non-profit pizza shop :wink: I like what I hear about the hatco warmers but we only use a glass showcase to display the pies and use a two hour window to sell it. Otherwise we keep our specialty slices refrigerated, cut and ready to warm up, which takes maximum 3 minutes on the bottom shelf of our Rotoflex. Peace :slight_smile:

Wow Nick a 5.00 quickie? Haven’t had one of those in many years…lol


I did not want to do the pbts for a long time but I had to since everyone wanted them for lunch. We only sell them until 3pm and no more after that.

we strech and sauce our 16" pizza cook it 75% and then cut into 6 and place in walk-in. GA says I can have it there for 4 hours like everyone else says. When someone orders we pull out of the walk-in, cheese, top with their toppings and cook on a screen(we have a brick oven) till crust is golden brown.

Lunchs have gone from $250-$400 or $500. Can’t beleive I hesitated!!!

are you happy with your sales if so keep your system as is quality come first i dunt see how sbarro can do it i am dispointed everytime i eat their pizza and for people in a hurry do the 8 minute ready or free but over all i ll be hanging to quality and freshness with tooth and nail good luck

Thanks for the advice Lilian. Maintaining high quality is a genuine concern of mine. That is why I want to make sure that whatever I do, it’s not comprimising the goodness of our product. Although I’m pleased with my sales, I’ll take more 8) I feel that I’m losing a lot of oportunistic diners during lunch, since I’m pretty much the only dining place around and the gas station/market across the road is packed during lunch. I just need to convince those people that we can do a quick “high quality” pizza.