The unofficial FAQ for potential pizzeria owners

I do not intend the following to be mean-spirited… just a little comic relief :slight_smile:

I’ve been on the PMQ board for over 4 years now, under a few different user names. I’m sure all you regulars here can relate to this… People come and go all the time that want to get into the business. For some reason, many of these people think the pizza business is just simple – “I want to throw dough around instead of working!” Many of them ask the same questions… and you just have to shake your head, knowing this person is about to lose a lot of money.

Somebody mentioned a sticky with a list of all the questions that get asked over and over again. I thought I’d come up with a list of the answers that the regulars really are thinking to some commonly asked questions…

Q: I’m putting together my business plan, but I need to know how many pizzas I can expect to sell. What number should I use?

A: With the extremely detailed information you’ve provided, it will probably be somewhere between 0 and 6.2 million. But, since you’re planning on opening a business and haven’t yet given much thought to minor details like, ya know, expected sales, we’re going to guess that within 6 months of opening it will be somewhere around 0.

Q: There’s a place nearby me that’s for sale. The food is really bad, the service sucks, and it’s filthy. The owner is in deep trouble. He only wants $50,000 for the whole thing! Should I buy it?

A: YES! You should offer $60,000 just in case though… you don’t want anybody else paying for the privilege of pulling somebody’s wiener out of the fire. What’s that? You get to take over his lease and debt payments too? We’ll just start calling you “Luckyâ€

I haven’t laughed that hard at a post in a while.

That was hilarious.

You forgot the ol…I caught one of my employees stealing…What should I do?

Thanks for the good laugh…what a relief none of my questions were there.

Or, how about this one:

The crusts on my pizzas aren’t getting brown enough. What am I doing wrong? Should I change my dough recipe and, if so, what should I change? I need an answer ASAP.


I’d like my crusts to be soft and chewy yet crunchy and crackery if you know what I mean, and not too thick and not too thin, with toppings that go edge to edge. I don’t know what kind of oven I will be using yet and I haven’t decided on screens, disks or pans, but does anyone have a dough recipe that I can use.

Thanks Piper, I needed a good laugh today…

What about …
Q. Where do I buy Dough Repair Kits, Canned Steam, Commonsense?


Yeah, Piper, I laughed my head off…

What about:

Q: Anybody else have a problem keeping good delivery drivers on staff? My cooks last on average about 8 months and my drivers tend to only last about 1 or 2 months at a time. I pay really well and they don’t have to work too hard. What am I doing wrong?

A: Don’t worry my staff don;t last this long. Your doing really well you obviously have a good store with good procedures and motivation and rewards structures in place. Tell us your secret.

really funny - oh sorry the question was one you posted a little while ago wasn’t it.

Whilst you may find it funny to poke fun at others problems/queries its not so funny when people do have a problem and ask for help to get you poking fun at them. Lets hope you don’t have a staff theft problems (like 90% of businesses do - you may get laughed at.

Q: I plan on doing 400 pizzas per day. Do you think I can do that with me, my wife, one cook and one driver?

A: Probably.

The answer is wrong. The answer should read “It depends on how many of your wife’s boyfriends will be helping for free.”

Q: I’m tired of working 40 hours a week for a guaranteed paycheck. If I open my new pizza joint on a shoestring, can I still make $100k annually only working 5 hours a week?

A: Sure. We all do it, but shhhh… don’t tell anyone.

The link for Deck v. Conveyor was BRILLIANT.
That should be it’s own topic, and sticky at the top of the list!

For an alternative answer in case oven type still comes up, I highly recommend foloowing the new trend of preparing pizza the way they prepare the roast for a luaua - start with smoldering coals, and bury your pizza in dirt over them for 6-8 hours. YUM. Really brings out the flavor of your frozen dough and sausage pellets.

Please don’t be offended. None of us is raelly that callous about people who are invested, done their homework and need assistance getting past a difficult situation. I am not at all certain how long you have been lurking to see what threads have rolled through over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again. I do get lost amongst all the people titled “guest”.

These are simply the most common types of posts put out by people who appear to have just found us 15 minutes before, never looked through the archives to see if there is an recent activity and information . . . . and ask for vast amounts of specialized information without any sort of perspective or data about the situation.

SO MANY people have (very innocently) popped up and for their 1st post asked, bascially, “How do I plan, build, operate and grow a pizzeria in my town . . . I have no experience and no money to start with”. Any one or five of these people lokking genuinely for informatin would be okay . . . but over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over gets somewhat silly for those on this end trying to read the tea leaves to guess the answers.

We really want to be able to help folks who need assistance with some problems. Those who want vast amounts of specialized direction with little offered to suggest the work they have done on their own just starts to weigh on us.

Hey Gang

With some help from Scott I am about half way through the FAQ list. I should have it done next week. I went through all 52 pages of threads and bookmarked the ones that seem to come up the most.

I am one of the newbies as well and actually taking the time to read all the threads answered a lot of my questions that I would have posted looking for answers.

Anyone know who can or how to do a sticky so the FAQ will be at the top fo the page?

Not offended at all, been around PMQ for years - I was the one who posted the comment about having a sticky with FAQ’s - I have no problem with people asking the questions, however naive they may be, that’s what this site is for. Yep I get fed up with it being time after time after time hence why I suggested putting a sticky at the front, however:

I just don’t think this thread is particularly funny- it doesn’t show this forum in a particularly good light and particularly when its posted by someone who IMO has also posted questions which are as naive as some which they jokes about.

Exceptional point. I’ll quit posting to the thread so it will fall down the list as the others eventually do.

Hey man. I’m sorry that you took offense. You’re of course right in your above post, which is EXACTLY why I only poked fun at the really bad questions that pop-up regarding going into the business. I’ve never thought that a question from an existing owner was silly. That’s what this board is for, and what it’s great at. That’s specfically why I included the last question… trying to show how everybody would react to a newbie that has maybe had his own thoughts about spending his life savings. It’s not newbies I was poking fun at, just the blatantly ignorant ones.

It was late, and I got tripped off my reading a post that included a fantastic discussion about pizza operations. The thread got interrupted by a completely off-topic post. The person had no experience, no plan, no ideas… but wanted to know if he should expect to sell 7000 pizzas per month. I come here for information like the rest of you, and that thread, full of useful information, got derailed by somebody with some bizarre expectations and questions.

Have I asked my fair share of questions? Of course… I’m no expert. But I know I wasn’t asking how to make dough 2 weeks before I opened (yeah, I saw that one once.) I did my due dilligence. I’m more concerned for the people that ask those kinds of questions. Do you not think we’re doing a disservice to them by not speaking up and saying that maybe, just maybe, this busines might not be a good idea for them?

These are the people that will be in here 1 year from now, asking if the Black Book can save their business. I don’t mean to dissuade or insult… but somebody asking those questions (and yes, I’ve seen every one of them) needs to be set straight before the set off on the path to financial ruin.

Your last post was really on-point though. This doesn’t show the TT in the best light I suppose. I apologize for that. If you mods out there feel the need to delete it, please feel free. I just thought that a lot of you were probably thinking the same thing.

Maybe we need a separate section for newbies? Put a real FAQ in there, and those that want to help should do so. Then others can congregate in an another area for those of us already opened.

Again, sorry if I offended. It certain wasn’t my intention; I was just looking to joke around a bit. It seems, judging from the posts, that many others have had the same thoughts.

The FAQ is pretty funny & I highly doubt you offended anyone in the biz. As for newbies, if they are put off by something like your FAQ they probably wouldn’t make it in food. Thanks for the laugh this morning. Have a good week

Yeah, I saw it from the funny side as well giving us all a break from the tedium of running a business.

If you can’t have a laugh once in a while then it’s a sad day for all.

No names were used or referred to so no harm done. Loosen up a bit … it’s good for the soul.


Yeah, we ‘mods’ looked it over. I can see where this may intimidate someone who is new in the business, or people who have asked these same questions, but I don’t think this is worthy of being deleted. Hell, I have given stupid answers in here and have asked many stupid questions while doing interviews for the magazine…and I have heard a few silly answers. SOmetimes when you don’t know the answer you have to ask…and even when you could or should be able to find the answers yourself, you ask them anyway, but if you are going to go into business for yourself, you better not have a thin skin and you need to be able to look back on mistakes and ‘stoopid’ things and laugh at yourself every now and then and learn. If you can’t, you are going to burn out real fast because this is a business for people with thick skins. Laugh at yourself and learn from mistakes (and don’t be afraid to make mistakes or ask ‘stupid’ questions), occasionally go grab a drink with an employee or two and have a laugh together, and yes, you can laugh at each other every now and then. Hey, we’re in the pizza business…the food everyone else orders and sits around eating and laughing with friends and having a good time, so why can we have a laugh or two at ourselves? …you know, I’ll probably look back on this post in three weeks and laugh at my stupid response :wink:

PS: Here are a few of my favorite interview answers

“Write a story about me”
Q: “Why should we feature you in PMQ?”
A: “Because we have great food”
(…ummm, I hope you think so. Why would anyone want to be written up who thought they have terrible food)

Q: “Ok then, is there anything special about the way you make your food that we can talk about?”
A: “Oh yeah, we only buy the best ingredients”
(…so that’s the secret …would have never thought of that…this is a cover story for sure)

Q: “What is the best form of marketing you have?”
A: “Word of mouth”
(…uh, yeah…having people run around telling others how great you are without you spending a dime is OK, but how am I supposed to explain how to do that to other operators…I usually get the response “Well, people talk about us because we have great food” …(see question #1))

And yes, I have asked even more stupid questions while conducting interviews that demonstrates just how much I don’t know, so if I have interviewed you and did so, feel free to post my dumb interview questions…

For the record, we really want to thank everyone who does help those new guys who drop in with questions. We were all new once and the Think Tank is here to help shorten the learning curve. Without you guys, this place wouldn’t be the great resource it is. Thanks

Sums it up nicely Tom.

I still laugh at myself when someone replied to one of my posts regarding paying too much for my business … “We all pay our fool taxes”. I loved that one and saw the funny side of it, and still do.

It is now coined as one of my favourite sayings everytime something breaks down.


Fool Tax…

ya, that catches many newbies by surprise…I knew someone looking 2 buy a place I worked @ yrs ago…I warned them about the pitfalls & the advantages…they passed on the deal…

turns out, a month or so later, they bought another place but did little investigation…

they’ve since payed their “fool tax” and are loosing money and seeking a new buyer…

they approaced me 4 advice (too late) and my response was 2 find another “sucker” like themselves, because a “smart” buyer won’t pay the inflated price they paid…

hopefully “newbies” will indeed read these posts and maybe they’ll see themselves somewhere in this mix…

Semper Fi

I will gladly share my biggest Fool Tax, just in case anybody thought I can’t laugh at my own “stoopid” mistakes. I can share them all with you if you’d like, but it might require it’s own forum.

My biggest (financially) Fool Tax was related to Sales Tax when I first opened. I programmed my POS with our local sales tax rate and off we went! Filed my first sales tax return right on time, and the second, and the third, and the fourth (we pay quarterly.)

After a FULL YEAR, I get a little letter from the tax collecting agency. Turns out that restaurants in my county have to collect and submit an additional tax above and beyond the retail tax. The rate? 1%. I had to write a check for 1% of my entire first year’s sales. I hadn’t collected it from customers, so it was straight out of my pocket.

Why did they wait a year to tell me? My guess would be to make sure I paid a proper price for being an idiot. I could have saved myself thousands of dollars with a 15 second phone call.