thinking about opening pizza business

Hi everyone, I am new to this forum. I was searching for Pizza forums and found this nice forum. I am thinking about opening a pizza business. I have found a nice place which is in a very busy shopping strip. There are few other restaurants in that area too. The space size is about 1300 sq ft. The owner is willing to renovate it if I sign a 36 mo lease. The rent+cam is around $3000/mo. I need to know what equipment do I need to buy? What could be the total cost if I buy all equipment new? I would like to offer dine-in plus take out. I have saved few thousand dollars and would like to use all cash for starting my business. Any ideas and advice will be highly appreciated.

Hi Desi,
Welcome to the TT. There is a lot of research you’re going to need to do besides the equipment. Do you have previous experience in the pizza industry? Are you going to offer delivery? What are your demographics and how do you see yourself placed in that market (i.e. volume shop, quality/more expensive, etc.)? You definitely need to build a business plan.

It’s nice that the landlord is willing to spring for the TIs, but I can tell you right now that a few thousand is probably not going to get you very far. Your oven alone will consume $10K to $30K. Add in refrigeration, sinks, mixer, technology (POS), fixtures, shelving, chairs/tables, smallwares, opening inventory, etc. and you’re probably looking at at least $40K more. You may want to consider buying used to save cash, because you’ll need lots of it when you open.

Sorry if I sound bleak, but I can honestly say that it’s a lot harder to open and operate a pizzeria than it looks from the outside.

Welcome to the best place to find answers about pizza. I would suggest you read the FAQ section http://www.pmq.com/tt/viewtopic.php?t=3374 to get a fair idea of what you are up against.

Now here are some questions for you.

  1. Are you experienced in the pizza industry?
  2. Are you willing to pour your heart and soul into this?
  3. Are you willing to give up all your waking hours until you are well established?
  4. Can you survive without drawing a paycheck for 6 months and maybe up to 2 years?

If you have answered NO to any of these questions please think about what you are planning to do.

Now to answer your question with some questions.

Your equipment list all depends on the type of operation you plan on running.

If you are going for everything made from scratch in you store the list is quite different than if you plan to use ready to use products. Will you make your own dough, use frozen dough balls, or par baked shells? Will you prepare your toppings in your store or use pre-prepped toppings like shredded or diced cheese, pre-cut vegetables, pre-sliced meats etc?

Once those questions are answered then you need to decide how you will bake the pizza. There are many different styles of ovens and many different models of each style. Do you plan on a conveyor oven, a deck oven, a woodburning brick oven or one of the other many options? Do you plan on using pans, screens, disks, or baking directly on the deck?

As you can see there are more questions than answers with the limited information you provided in your post. But to give you a ball park figure going with everything new, I would start at $100,000 and up to $250,000 depending on exactly what you plan on doing.

Here is a word of advice from a guy that paid a fair share of FOOLS TAX (a term for not doing all your home work and ending up paying more than you should have) Make yourself a detailed business plan that is realistic before you even think of spending your money on opening a pizza store. Some of us get lucky (like me) and make things work and others are not so lucky and lose everything.

I hope this helps you in your efforts. And the best of luck to you.

HI Desipizza:

We have equipped hundreds of pizza shops;

A top notch pizza carry out consumes about 1200 sq. ft. Equipment will usually cost from $50,000.00 on the low end to $150,000.00 at the top end.

If, as you state, you want to have a dine in operation I suggest you find a larger facility.

A dine in operation will usually include additional equipment to provide a varied menu.

When you say “the landlord is willing to renovate” I would get specific as to what he will or will not do. There is a lot of plumbing and electrical work involved and probably some additional air conditioning.

If you would like we will at no charge do a floor plan and equipment schedule for you.

You can Email me at pizzaovens@aol.com.

George Mills

Good points listed above (especially George re: square footage and equipment cost). Rather than duplicate some of them, I will offer some thoughts in other directions:

Lease: Three years is much too short. If you are going to take the risk of investing in a new store, you need to protect that risk by having your occupancy assured for a reasonable period of time.

I can’t comment on the lease rate, not knowing your market, but the fact that the LL is willing to remodel on such a short lease period would indicate some hunger on his part.

PLEASE get professional advice regarding the lease. MOST people I work with that have done the lease themselves have signed things they should not have.

Equipment and build-out are not your only start-up costs. Building out a store from scratch is great if you can afford it… But is expensive. Plan on spending another 50-100K after buildout and before profitability.

I would suggest you consider working with a SCORE counselor in your area to refine your business plan BEFORE you sign a lease.

DO NOT SIGN THE LEASE WITHOUT LEGAL ADVICE AND DON’T SIGN IT BEFORE YOU HAVE A REAL BUSINESS PLAN.

Think tank, thank you so much for your replies. I still have not finalized anything yet. I don’t know what a business plan is and how to make it? Can someone share a sample plan that I can get an idea from and then try to develop mine? Any spreadsheet, document etc will be helpful. Also if someone has a list of items that are required for opening a pizza busines, that would be very helpful. Thanks again. Btw, any thoughts on fried chicken business, just like KFC or Churches chicken?

Find a SOAR website, or office in the phone book. They can tell you all about business plans and such. there could even be downloads on the SOAR site.

If you never heard of a business plan or how to develop one, then you may honestly be in for a lot more research and learning before going much further. The plan is all about everything you need ot know to develop a business concept, marketplace, products, financial projections. I contend that it is the single most important step in building the business. Not absolutle a MUST do if you aren’t getting a loan . . . but it will make the difference when times get tough.