Rethinking my make line

Our current busy-night make line sort of evolved as we learned. However, I’m not convinced it’s the most efficient.

Let me describe my setup right now:

We have 2 double stack ovens. Two are used for Chicagos, two for thins. Our prep table is directly in front of the ovens as is the cut table on one end and a small prep table and warmer on the other. Here’s a crappy diagram:


Warmer=Preptable=Cut Table

Our “alley” is barely large enough for two grown men to get by.

On busy nights, we have one guy on the server side of the cut-table. His job is to manage all the tickets and tell the others what to do. He also expedites the food. We call him the wheel. This is usually me or our KM. We only use a wheel when we are very busy and it’s usually only for 3-4 hours.

On the other side of the cut table is the “oven guy” whose sole job is to pull pizzas and cut them as well as to notify the wheel so that food can be staged properly. That leaves two people on the line to make pizzas and occasionally three. Our make table is big enough that each of the two cooks can have their own station of sauce/cheese/basic meats. They share the vegetables in the middle.

Taking the tickets out of the cooks hands seems to make them much faster - they can just focus on the one individual task at hand. They are trained to look up when done and holler “next pizza” and are not worried about timing or staging at all.

This works pretty efficiently for us, but I’m considering moving to a more “assembly” line style system. Frankly, I’m having a hard time stepping back and looking at my own operation b/c we’ve done it this way for so long. So any fresh ideas or descriptions of how you guys do it would be helpful. On a busy night, we sell about 140 pizzas if that helps.

Thanks for your thoughts in advance.

Hi Pcuezze:

I thing if you would give the brethren information such as. Apparently you have seating. If so how many seats? Do you deliver? If so how much of your business is delivery? How much is carry out? What ovens are you using? What is you time for an order being placed on a busy evening to the pizza being baked cut and ready for serving or delivery?

Some others may have more questions.

George Mills

Sure George. Here are some more details.

We are about 75% dine-in. Full service. 15% is carryout. 10% is delivery (and growing).

We cook in deck ovens. The Chicagos cook in a brand new Marsal and an OLD Baker’s Pride (it’s our overflow oven for busy nights). The thins cook in a double stack Blodgett 965.

We seat about 140 people.

Chicagos take 30 minutes until we get really busy and are in and out a lot at which point cook time goes up to 40 minutes. Thins take 7-9 minutes depending on the way the wind is blowing that day :slight_smile: We serve about 2:1 thin:chicago. We don’t really cook much else in the ovens (we toast some sandwiches and cook cheesebread, but that’s about it). We also sell appetizers, wings, pasta, and sandwiches. Usually, the pizza cook at that end of the line handles all those orders (our food business is 85% pizza +/-)

It is imperative that tickets not hang around long. Our ticket times are long enough without holding on to tickets for 20 minutes before a pizza goes into the oven…

Hope this helps and thanks for reading.

Hi pcuezze

Sorry I did not get back to you quickly:

It appears you could use some higher production ovens. 140 pizzas in an evening appears very low. Most of our clients can put out several hundred. You indicate you have Blodgett 965 ovens to bake 2/3 of your production. I find no information on that model number but it is most probably a bake or roast oven not a pizza oven.

Chicago style pizzas are a slow bake not much you can do about that. You might look at baking those in a small revolving oven. You could vastly increase production of thins by switching to a conveyor oven but it sounds like you do not have the room to make those changes. A couple of reconditioned Blodgett 1000 ovens would boost your thin production.

George Mills