Questions about Wood Fired Pizza Shop??

This is my first post but I have been reading and lurking for a very long time.

My wife and I are in the process of building our business plan for a delco/limited seating (20-30 ppl) Wood Fired Pizza Restaurant in our hometown. We have a population of about 13k family homes in about a 5 mile radius and no pizza places like this idea. I have read so much information and there are still a few “facts” I am unable to obtain. I was hoping that from some of your expert knowledge you may have some answers for me.

In regards to fire wood, how much do you stock on hand at a time and where/how do you stock it? I have found many different options to this but I am looking for some expert advice.

Is anyone familiar with a brick oven that has a rotating base? Chipotle recently joined with a company out of New York and this is how they are going. You don’t need a professional pizziola on hand because the ovens rotate to cook evenly. This is going to save them a ton on labor costs. Just curious someone’s take on this??

We are interested in doing a community sourced “fresh when available” offering with our pizzas. Anyone with a Brick oven shop find this to be extremely challenging in regards to food waste?

Thanks in advance for any insight.


mmmmm wood fire pizza is amazing, wish I had room for a wood fire oven in my place…i dont know much about them so i wont be much help but i do know a little about camping and you know what they say…once you think you have gathered enough wood gather some more cuz you will never have enough…i say incorporate the logs into the design of the restaurant… here are some pictures of one of my favorite restaurants with a wood burning oven. its a little hard to see but the wall that divides the kitchen and expo is all logs i think it is very cool looking. and in a pinch you can grab some logs to keep going. wildfire-glenview-2.jpgwildfire_restaurant_review-7.jpg

Thanks for the pics, I think that looks amazing like that.

The specs for the oven I am looking at says to keep it fired to 900 degrees 12 hours a day using oak, it takes about a cord of wood every 25 days. A cord of wood is a lot of timber! I am sure I can assemble some form of a rack behind the building but I was just curious if maybe somebody has already done it and had some insight!

Thanks for the reply!

Hi Josh>

We are a dealer for that oven.

I saw them at Pizza Expo.

Impressive unit. The Manufacturer makes the oven its self. The stone facade is your design built by your local stone masonry company.

George Mills


Just curious of what brand you carry? I have seen 2 models so far from companies out of New York.

I just finished a project that uses a WFO rotating deck from Itality…very nice, very fast…but needs some skill…

you’ll buy a pallet of wood 5’ high…just keep it shrink wrapped with a tarp over it…we do not run it @ 900…too hot for a quality pie…more in the 300 celsusis…

the pies are quite nice, but you need to ask yourself, is that what your market wants or needs…

Patriot’s Pizza brings up a very good point. Do your customers really want, and will they appreciate a WFO pizza especially in a DELCO operation? WFO pizzas are amazing when hot and fresh, but we all know what delivery or take home does to the quality of a pizza. My own personal experience is that WFO’s may not necessarily be the best option for this type of store. In order to get a decent pizza that will hold up well to DELCO you will probably find that you will need to throttle the oven temperature back a bit to about 600F to get a thick enough bottom crust and a sufficiently dry pie to hold up well to the rigors of DELCO.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

Thanks for the tip on the cook temp. I was only using this temp as a “guide” for costs but knowing the pies are better at a lower temp is very insightful!

Do you keep any stock inside the building? Under the oven? Does fire code allow for stock to be inside for you or have you had problems working around that?

I have done a TON of market research and I have even hit the streets and polled some patrons in my town about it. My conclusion is that I am as much confident in my new venture as I can be. Being a new restaurateur is just an educated guess at best, I am fully aware of that! I love knowing that I can come to this forum and actually talk to pros that have not only been there but is doing it now.

My market does not have anything like this currently. We (my home town) have needed a good “community sourced” quality food restaurant for years. We have all the demographics to make it work, and the need is there for the product. I am NOT looking at making a big establishment. I am looking to be small with quality. Any tips are GREATLY appreciated.

Chipotle /locale rotating hearth is gas only. Marana Forni do wood & gas rotating hearth - personally I wouldn’t bother.

Get a stefano Ferrara and learn how to do it or get some skilled staff and go nuts - the oven is just a piece of the puzzle though! The dough, tomato and ingredients play a massive role in good quality wood fired pizza - especially Neapolitan pizza.

Our first shop is a Neapolitan wood fire joint - I go through a ute full of timber every 2-3 weeks. We get the oven hot with gas but never cook food with it you can taste and see the difference.

Our new shop has a middleby 540 conveyor and I’m in the process of replacing it with a wow 2 stone hearth belt oven - you can make ridiculously good pizza with these ovens too + they are a hell of a lot more simpler a wood fire oven.

Good luck.


I appreciate the insight and to be honest I was throwing that concept around A LOT. I have looked at “others” operations with the same concept and have noticed that they are still making it work, with success.

I am NO expert by far but all the pies I have tested with work better, in regards to being dry enough for DELCO, with less toppings and less sauce. With this concept it works by bringing down the moisture factor. I think a nice compromise of a slightly lower temp and lighter on the toppings I can still deliver a remarkable pie in this situation. In using fresh made, the flavors are still fantastic even using less. Comments??

I love wood fired pizza. The couple of places I have been to that were doing well told me that they were cooking in the 650-700 degree range and cooking a pizza in about 3-4 minutes. The come out piping hot and crispy.

With that said, Tom’s kindly worded comments are right on the money. This kind of pizza is NOT suited to delivery. They are too thin to hold any heat and will not still be crispy at the door.

Locally sourced food stuffs are a great addition to any restaurant plan. Customers love to hear about that kind of thing. Just be careful not to paint yourself into a corner with it. Local supplies of many things are not reliable year round and you do not want to make claims that are unsupported by the facts when that occurs.

Forgot to mention we cook at 400°. If you cook at a low temp there is no reason they won’t hold up for delivery. Get good bags and use the pizza box inserts to allow heat from under the pizza, most importantly get the best boxes you can if you are primarily doing takeout.

Supachicken, I love the feedback it helps a TON!

The research I have done says that a quality box and insert is a MUST, so thank you for supporting that.

My plan with locally sourced foods is to say “when available”. In my research I have noticed many operations with that same option.

I am going to do some more research in regards to DELCO and quality with these pies. I am really hoping there is a way to make it happen. I love the wood fired pizza, my community responses are that they LOVE the idea as well. SO many others are doing DELCO in this area and there has to be a reason and way they are able to.

Thanks for input all, mucho appreciated.

Are you saying that there are a number of other WFO DELCO stores in your community?
If this is the case, then the people in your community will be familiar with WFO pizzas, their strong points and weaknesses, but if they are not used to them it might be that you will need to include some instructions with your pizzas explaining how to best enjoy your pizzas.
I always remember what happened in Chicago when WFO’s made their first appearance beck in the late 70’s. Not being used to WFO pizzas, everyone had to go out and try the new pizza on the block, but when they got it they sent it back to the kitchen. Why you ask? Because in their eyes, it was burnt. Black spots/char and dark brown spotting covered the pizza. Oops, shoulda educated thos folks about the virtues of a WFO pizza before opening. This episode set the acceptance of WFO pizzas back by a year or more in Chicago. Can you imagine everyone telling their friends not to go “there” because their pizzas are burned? By the 80’s WFO pizza was accepted into the Chicago pizza community. Just goes to show ya what a little education can do.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor


No, I am saying that there IS a local restaurant that offers WFO pizza but it is a formal dining Italian style restaurant. Their hours they offer this pizza is is from 5pm-9pm at night. Now that being said I have talked to many people in my community and most have tried WFO pizza, and love it. Now that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a VAST majority of people that are uneducated about WFO pizza, and that is a FANTASTIC point, educating them before the doors crack open and I fall on my face would be crucial to any success I may have.

I have lived in this community for most of my life. I have worked in this community in a sales/financial position most of my adult life. It has ALWAYS been an issue for my community in regards to getting a more “gourmet” style of food. Over the years I have seen (including myself and my family) travel outside the community to find this type of food. My community is family based. We are very “community supporting” when it comes to business. Now with all that rambling being said, I have done a ton of research not only by the numbers but by hitting the streets and asking people in my community. The majority tells me this is a product they want in our town and they would pay a premium for it.

I’m not looking to make a killing at this business. I am interested in doing something I love, which is cooking, owning something that I can work hard at and hopefully be proud of and helping my community by keeping everything local that I possibly can. In doing this I can offer a product that is better for you and tastes amazing.

The fact that you have dine in pizza places with WFO’s is a crucial aspect that you will need to consider. Right now, as you have said, everyone loves the WFO pizzas, but they are sold in a dine in restaurant, where the full uniqueness and quality can be fully appreciated. In a DELCO store you will be competing against your customer’s perception of a WFO pizza, which for now appears to be that of one from a dine in restaurant. That is some pretty stiff competiotion for pizza made in any type of oven (fresh V/S DELCO). I think this should further underscore the need to educate your customer on how to handle your pizzas once they get them to their home. Remember, in DELCO there are actually two different concepts (DELIVERY) This is where the pizza is delivered to the customer’s home and it is perfectly acceptable to complain if the pizza is cold, not as warm as expected, soggy, or has had the toppings rearranged during delivery. Then there is the CARRY OUT aspect, this is where the customer comes to the store to pick up the pizza and take it home with them, now you are entering into a different arena. With CO we seldom ever hear about cold pizzas, soggy pizzas, or pizzas where the toppings have been rearranged. Why? Because the customer in now assuming a level of responsibility for getting the pizza home in good shape (translation, there is no delivery driver to blame for anything the customer doesn’t like about the pizza). I have a friend that has a slice store (also sells full size pizzas too) but is only dine in and carry out (no delivery). For all practical purposes complaints don’t exist on the CO pizzas. How many delivery stores can make that claim? We always seem to hear about how good or great delivery pizza is, really?? Have you ever wondered how Digiorno’s Pizza (supermarket/frozen) made its way into our homes? Their advertising says it all…“It isn’t delivery, it’s Digiorno” yep, there are a lot of people out there who feel that a frozen Digiorno pizza is better that a delivered pizza and their sales reflect that notion (they are the nation’s #1 leader in frozen pizza with the highest percentage of repeat sales, and they typically don’t discount their pizzas either, so when you see them on sale, it is a store sale, not a manufacturer’s sale). One thing that I’ve done to give the customer a better DELCO pizza experience is to give them a “free” pizza stone, well, not exactly free. Here is how I do it. With your first DELCO pizza purchase buy a pizza stone for only…let’s say $10.00 (that’s your cost) and receive a $1.00 discount on your next 10 ppizza purchases, or do a $2.00 discount for the next five purchases, whatever works for you. Now all you need to do is to educate them in the correct use of the stone for turning their DELCO pizza into a great, restaurant dining experience in their own home.
Time to get off of the soap box.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

Wow, incredible amount of insight. Maybe only doing dine-in and carry out is the best option. You have my brain working over time now! The pizza stone idea is genius. I’m SO afraid to stray away from delivery because I know that is a large area of possible sales that I would be missing out on.

Education is key. I appreciate the angle you have given me to work towards. Hopefully I can develop the right approach to help create the best success. Thanks again!

New York Brick Oven Co

Is the ovens that we have signd on as a dealer

George Mills

We were faced with the same decision when developing AJ’s concept here in Manhattan, Kansas, to deliver or not to deliver, that was the question. We opted not to deliver. Remember the movie Field of Dreams? Build it and they will come, well we found the same is pretty well true for pizza too, if you have a REALLY great pizza, and explain that you don’t provide delivery service because it detracts too much from the high quality standards to which your pizza is made, they will come to your store to enjoy your great pizza in a clean, fast and friendly store, then, at the store you can advertise your carry out. We have found that our whole pizzas hold up in a box with a pizza liner for about 20-minutes and can still be hot enough to serve right from the box.
Have we lost business due to no delivery? Yes we have, especially during those cold, snowy, winter days, but we still survive, and as an added plus, all we ever get are very positive reviews on the pizza, and we don’t need to go through all of the contortions of a delivery service (cars, insurance, drivers, driver security, false or inaccurate delivery addresses, etc.).
Did I mention that AJ’s is well known by anyone who has attended our annual Pizza Production Seminar in recent years as we have dinner there to showcase the store and concept. Adam has been in business for about 7-years now and he opened his third store about a year ago which is located in Topeka, Kansas about 50-miles from Manhattan, Kansas where his two other stores are located. Adam and his pizzerias (AJ’s New York Pizza) is a true success story since he never before operated a pizzeria, and he is in a market already flooded in pizza here in Manhattan, but had/has very limited competition in his Topeka location (I know, the state Capitol, and very few pizzerias, go figure. By the way, we NEVER had a grand opening at the Topeka store as once the lights were turned on the store was filled with customers, and it still is. On top of all of this, Adam is possibly one of the most laid back operators you might ever meet, no micro-management, trains his people well, allows his managers to operate the store without his constant oversight, and his reward for all of this is the ability to take Mondays off and also take a yearly vacation. Don’t get me wrong, it is still a lot of work, especially opening new stores, but when done right you can be rewarded for your efforts rather than being made a slave to your store.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

George, thank you for the follow up. They are one that I have been looking at.

On the note of delivering a soggy pizza. I did some research and there is a company out of India that has a new pizza box that is ventilated. The vents are engineered in a way that the pizza stays warm but the moisture gets released. I just sent an email to get some pricing (which I’m sure isn’t cheap) Maybe this is some form of resolution. We shall see!