Where do I start / and why is grande cheese so high?

Does anyone have any access to online info and such that would have me in my planning of my first pizza restaurant? I have been thinking about it for a few years now and I would like to get something going within the next 18 months. I have done a little searching around, and trying to build a ‘rolodex’ of good local suppliers, marketing acquaintences, and such (St, Louis Mo and within 120 mile radius) And would like a little more insight before laying my plans in stone.

Any info would be great - it could be sent to me via email at john[at]dialpop.net

Ive been told to pick out a few things already - Sauce, Cheese, Dough, ParBake (If applicable)

Here in STL and surrounding counties - we have a big fanbase chunk of Thin crust lovers. St Louis style pizza is thin. But theres also a huge chunk of people who like really thick. Like chi-town thick. I dont want to have to come in and fight with a thicker crust when its called for. Should I consider a par baked Chicago style crust, or take on the quest of perfecting this crust myself? I can lay a mean hand toss myself already, but I SUCK when it comes to anything thicker. I plan to offer 2-3 thicknesses; thin, handtossed, and maybe chicago style.

Another is sause. Here - we dog the big chains sauce all the time. PH is too sweet, Dom gives me chest pains, Ive even gone into a m/pops and seen them just adding water to tomato puree!(falls over laughing) Should I make my own sauce, or seek out the best commercial product?

And last of all - Cheese. This is my biggest fight already - and Im a little more than a year out from my store. WHO should I get cheese from, and which grade should I use? Ive been getting mixed signals. I personally love all the full flavored cheeses, like provelone, whole milk mozz, and cheddar. Who uses part skim instead of whole milk? And who stocks all of these DICED? I hate shredded, as you tend to use more of it on a pie, and it brings cost up. (Ive managed a local dominos, and mom/pop)

Any feedback would be appreciated.

Welcome to the 'Tank. You’ll get some good advice here on what you’re asking.

Even with lots of people who will offer advice here, you should do some searching in the archives using keywords like: cheese, grande, sauce recipe, dough, startup, opening, vendors, food distributors,.

National food distributors include: sysco, US Foodservice, roma, PFG, and then there are smaller regional and local distributors. Go introduce yourself to local independent restaurant owners. Get to know them, and build relationships with them. They can tell you who the good vendors are and who the good reps are at the companies. They will also be good sources for quality used equipment vendors.

There are SO MANY things to know and learn. Read here for a while even if you don’t get overwhelming repsonse to this post. Topics pop up periodically, and there have been several recent people popping in with requests for “I’m opening and tell me a whole bunch of stuff about a lot of stuff” type posts. They are welcome, but if a lot come bunched, then the later ones sometimes get less action just because.

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it sounds as if you’ve never worked in a pizza joynt b4…if thats the case, I’d highly advise you to get a p/t job 1st…start small, learn…you’ll soon be able to answer many of your Q’s…

You are in for a long and exciting trip of experimenting, tasting and sampling for all the things you are talking about. Make it, taste it, and adjust it. Repeat. Research the marketplace all over and taste lotots and lots of pizzas. Many independents will share info to a point about their cheese, sauce base and generla dough formulation. People here will send actual recipes for some things.

Here’s my .02 US for what it is worth. (No refunds available)

Sauce: many people have done both. Find a food vendor who can/will give you samples of a some fully prepared pizza sauce. A recent debated raged here as to whether Wtanislaus or Escalon was the best product line. So, those are good places to start for fully prepared, ready to use sauces. I and many others use some canned product bases and our own spice blends. I use Stanislaus products: 7-11 crushed pear tomatoes, Saporito Super Heavy sauce with basil, some water and my herb/spice blend.

Cheese: Decide the flavor profile you want and go looking for samples again. I get great performance and taste from USFoods house brand cheeses: 50/50 skim milk mozzerella and provalone feather shredded. (I’ll be adding a digital pizza scale to my make line this spring to manage portioning of cheese et al.) USFoods in Atlanta area doesn’t do diced except for mozz. Roma/Vistar is a pizzeria focused company that will likely have your diced, and a wider range of products to try . . . many tout Grande as the best pizza cheese brand . . . ergo higher pricing.

Cheese performance has some reliance on the oven temp/time. So, be aware that even if you choose a great tasting product, you make have oiling issue to resolve when you decide on your oven and baking schedule. You can get a blend to do whatever you want it to do. Ge4t samples, bake and taste. Change what you don’t like. I actually tried both part skim and whole milk mozz cheese. I liked performance, taste and texture of the part skim better with the provalone in my oven on my pizzas.

Dough: Books have been written about it. You can find dough recipe is the archives for nearly ANY style of crust you want to create. Once you get a better feel for what you want to go for, Tom Lehmann as well as the many talented pizzaioli here can give help refining and deciding on recipes. Dough management is art and science.

PARBAKED frozen crusts will universally be discouraged here, if you are talking abuot buying them to use. Often flavor and texture of fluffy cardboard. Parbaking your own, howver is another topic for lots of information.