Trying to speed up my pizza times

Hello all,

I am looking for ways to speed up our pizza times. We are using a sheeter and a Baker’s Pride Y-600 deck oven. We have our pizza oven, a griddle, and a deep fryer. We mainly sell pizzas, wings, subs, burgers and fries. We are a Dine-In (about 50 seats) & Take-Out Pizzeria in a very small rural town and do well for the most part, but when we get slammed with everyone coming in at once and phone orders ringing off the hook, things tend to back up at the pizza station. I know sometimes our oven just gets full and that causes the bottleneck. We have thought about adding a second deck, but our rushes like that are so sporadic, I am not sure if that would be a wise investment.

We usually have 2-4 guys on the pizza station(depending on what day it is). No one really has a station, but if we get slammed, one guy will constantly roll out pizzas while the other 2-3 will make and tend the oven.

Here is our current procedure:
[]Get Pizza order.
]Get dough ball from cooler.
[]Sheet it and stretch it to a screen.
]Pass it to the make line to get sauce, cheese, and toppings.
[]Put it in the oven.
]Bake @ 550 degrees until top is done. (Time varies depending on how busy the oven is.)
[]take pizza off screen for last minute or so.
]take out of oven, cut, and either box it or serve it.
Should we Parbake? Should we pre-sheet the dough?There has to be a better and more efficient way to do this, especially during our lunch and dinner rushes. Any and all help is greatly appreciated!

Thanks again!

Since you sheet and stretch it to a screen, why not pre stretch a few of these leading up to lunch and dinner rushes? I wouldn’t try to sheet out hours worth, but if you kept a few ready before your typical rush times it might take the strain off of your bottleneck(oven). If the rush doesn’t happen and you wind up throwing out a few doughballs, your out a buck or so of food cost, a better alternative than making your customers wait longer for their pizzas.

IMO if you are getting “slammed” a second oven is almost a must…I suspect you have some “cranky” customers and those customers may be lost to you if they get that kind of service more than once…

On big nights we rack up to 60 skins going into the dinner rush. An hour before rush we bring out 8-10 trays of dough to proof at room temp. About a 20-30 minutes before the rush starts we have two people tossing dough and we fill four racks. One rack of 12", one rack of 14" and two racks of 16". From that point until things slow down the pizza makers pull skins from the racks and the dough guy tries to keep the racks full. Three good guys on the line plus a fast dough spinner can keep our two MM wide belts full so the next bottle neck for us is ovens. That kicks in around 100-110 pies per hour because wings, calzones, strombolli, bread sticks, cheesy bread and deep dish are invariably using some of the capacity.

No way I would want my guys running through the kitchen to the walk-in for dough balls or even reaching under the line if that is where they were kept. Besides, cold dough is a lot slower to handle! Whe the dough guy needs more dough he gets another 4-5 trays at a time. Depending on doughball size that is 40 doughballs ±. With just one deck oven, I can’t see why you would ever need need four guys on pizza!

How long will the pre-stretched skins last? Can they be on an open rack or should they be on an enclosed rack to prevent air from drying them out? What type of racks are ya’ll using?

Ask your food supplier for racks. American Metal-craft is where we got ours if I remember right. Ordered through USFood or Sysco. Don’t remember any more. Skins are fine on the open rack for 40 minutes to an hour for us.

If we know that we will use 80-100 during dinner, we start with about 40-50 and then fill in as we go. We have four racks on the line so we max out at about 60. We also have a fifth rack near the ovens to stage ready-to-bake pizzas for large orders. We stage the order there so that several pies can run through together instead having some pies finished while the last pies for the same order are just going in.

I agree with bodegahwy. We call them “extras” I don’t why, they’re not extra. We just always have. But anyway, you dough station should be prepped and ready for the those rushes. The quicker you get the first orders in the quicker the backed up orders will get done too.

Can these ‘extras’ be put in a cooler to keep longer than 40 mins - 1 hour? If so, how should I store them since they will already be on screens? The problem is that sometimes our rush is from 6-7pm, sometimes its 7-8pm, sometimes its a late rush, and sometimes its from 6-9. We just never know when the crowd is coming…

You can put a garbage bag over the whole rack and that will keep them longer… but then they are only doughballs. If you end up tossing a couple it does not cost much.

A single deck should require one person, not 4. Granted I don’t know how your business works, but we bottleneck by filling 4 y600s and run 3 guys on our line during the weekend.

Do you need screens and cold dough? I’d eliminate that for sure. How fast is that sheeter? We bench by hand… We don’t par bake, or do anything in advance aside from making piles of half stretched dough for the maker to grab. Look at your guys, make sure they are hustling, because I’d cry myself to sleep every night if I had to pay 4 guys to work a single y600 deck oven.

I have to agree with “noreason”. If we have 4 guys on the pizza line, we can handle 100 pies per hour and keep it up.

Thanks everyone for the feedback so far! All this time, I thought 3-4 on our pizza station was normal!

It seems that my pizza guys are hustling, but I know I have to be doing something wrong at the pizza station. I ordered a rack and we will start pre-stretching next week. I am going to try to cut it down to 2 people at the pizza station. Maybe I should think about switching out to conveyor ovens?? Is it a significant taste difference between a deck oven and conveyor oven cooked pizza?

I know our kitchen layout is certainly not optimal, so I will also look to see if I can make any changes with that as well.

Use a stopwatch app or an actual stopwatch and time the following for a large (14"?) pepperoni pizza. Time them in a normal scenario, not with your staff trying to break a speed record.

  1. The time between getting a single dough ball from the cooler, sheeting and handing over to your maker for assembly

  2. The time taken by your maker to top a large pepperoni and put into the oven

  3. The time it takes to bake and remove the large pepperoni

  4. The time it takes to box, cut and bag a large pepperoni

Steps 1 and 2 are crucial to your operation. If these steps aren’t up to par, you’re wasting your money buying conveyor ovens. If your guys can’t fill a single y600, they are going to have a hell of a time getting a conveyor to it’s capacity.

I want to make something clear though… I keep mentioning your employees as if I am speaking poorly about them. I’m not. You said they are hustling, and I bet they are, I just think that your system might be killing their efficiency. Grabbing each dough from the cooler is a dead giveaway on how inefficient your system might actually be…

Take those times above and post each one. Maybe your times aren’t even as bad as you think? Let me know and I can help you speed things up in whichever section is below standard.

@noreason – I think it is a 75/25 mix, with 75% of the problem being our system and layout. But I also think my guys could go a little faster as well. I will try to get some times during lunch and post back this afternoon.

Any help is GREATLY appreciated!


You ask; Maybe I should think about switching out to conveyor ovens?? Is it a significant taste difference between a deck oven and conveyor oven cooked pizza?
If you will check past postings by Tom the Dough Doctor he states there will be no difference if the Lloyd disks are used.
Over the years we have replaced thousands of deck ovens with conveyors everyone who switched enjoyed an increase in sales. I have a video of Papa John stating that when I switched him from decks to conveyors he went from doing $1000.00 per evening to doing
as much as $1000.00 per hour.
George Mills

This guy clearly stated his current equipment was only “sometimes” his bottleneck. Could it speed up his bake times? Sure, but his bake times don’t seem to be his issue at all here. Don’t fill his head with the idea of him making millions overnight by switching to a conveyor oven that you also conveniently happen to sell. Let the guy solve his current issues and when he is capable of producing enough pizzas for his current setup, then you can re-pitch him.

I was responding to his question."Maybe I should think about switching out to conveyor ovens?? Is it a significant taste difference between a deck oven and conveyor oven cooked pizza?
George Mills

You must Pre-sheet! We sheet out dozens about an hour and a half before big rushes. We absolutely want the dough at room temp for as long as we can. We top a stack of sheet outs with an empty pan to keep from drying out. As long as its not 100 degrees in our kitchen, those sheet outs can last 2-3 hours if not more. We are averaging about $7000 in sales on a friday and sat night and we will have at max 4 people working in our kitchen. I will say that we do have our drivers assist in sheeting out if they aren’t busy. Currently using a 3 deck XLT oven.

with 3 decks do you have 1 person slice and box? i don’t think i could keep up with a triple ! we hit 7,000 for the first time for one day this summer, it just about killed us hand tossing,5 cooks,one slicing,one tossing,two line,one pasta, scouring these threads to find a better faster method, any crust complaints with sheeted dough comparing to hand tossed ? your sales reflect the quality,what kind of sheeter ? did you hand toss for a time before coming to the conclusion to sheet? we happen to have the fastest spinner west of the pecos,the 3 nites he doesn’t work we’re in trouble !!! sometimes big time!!love to see your place,where are you located? good job NATE!!!

Sheeter = Antes? ( ancient one ) . We started scheduling someone to be at cut and box all shift and then we supplement them with drivers and management. I like have my manager hanging out at cut and box for quality assurance and to watch the drivers. On very busy nights we can have 3 people stationed there for a long period of time. We’re 4.5 yrs old and at the beginning and hand tossed everything but honestly it was a waste of time. We realized that if you sheet out ahead of time and let it sit for at minimum 45 mins at room temp the pizzas come out the same. Plus we never ever use same day dough. We proof for days. We’re in Fort Collins, CO. Thanks John!