Q&A: Pizza for Breakfast
BY BIG DAVE OSTRANDER
PHOTOS BY RICK DAUGHERTY
So, I have a great breakfast pizza that I make for people who are having breakfast meetings but don’t want the same old muffins and donuts. It’s not something I have on my regular menu and I am not open for breakfast. I only do this for groups that ask, but I am thinking maybe I should open for breakfast. Do I need more than just an assortment of breakfast pizzas, coffee and juice to satisfy a breakfast crowd?
Lacombe, Alberta, Canada
Wayne, it makes sense to give breakfast a shot. You’re already in your shop prepping each morning anyway. Your ovens are on and getting hot. You already have many breakfast ingredients on hand such as bell peppers, sausage and bacon. You could keep it simple with muffins, breakfast pizza, coffee and juice and satisfy a lot of people. There’s no need to start performing as short-order cooks by making scrambled eggs, toast, biscuits and gravy, etc. Give it a trial run, seeing what you can make easily with ingredients already on hand and let me know how it goes.
I’m having difficulty getting my employees to grasp the concept of good customer service. When I’m not there, service sucks. Do I clean house or can I train them better in some way? What do I do?
This is a situation you need to get under control immediately. Without recognizing and taking care of your customers, you might as well just hand money out and close up shop for good. When I owned my pizzeria, I was very subtle in the messages I sent my crew. One of the messages they received was stamped across every paycheck they ever got at Big Dave’s. The seven magic words in big red letters were: ‘A LOYAL CUSTOMER MADE THIS PAYCHECK POSSIBLE.’ A large banner at the customer order area shouted ‘YOU’RE THE BOSS AT BIG DAVE’S.’ I coined little acronyms like SIN (Solve it Now) and TLC (Think Like a Customer). I told my staff never to say anything to a customer that they wouldn’t say to their grandmother. Sit down with your staff and explain to them that they are in the hospitality industry. Taking care of customers should be priority number one.
Big Dave Ostrander owned a highly successful independent pizzeria before becoming a consultant, speaker and internationally sought-after trainer. He is a monthly contributor to Pizza Today.
Read Pizza Today on Your iPad!
BY JEREMY WHITE, EDITOR IN CHIEF
Tablets are changing the publishing world, and here at Pizza Today we want to make sure we’re ahead of the curve. That’s why I’m ecstatic to announce to you that we have just launched a free app for the iPad. Go to iTunes and search “Pizza Today” to get started. The download is fast and easy (did I mention free?). In less than two minutes after starting the download you’ll be able to read the April issue of Pizza Today — the very magazine you’re holding in your hands as if this were still, like, 1984 or 2009 — in its entirety.
I couldn’t be more excited. The number of iPad users is on the rise quickly. In a few years, these devices will be as common as a PC is today. And when the majority of pizzeria owners own a tablet, we’ll be right there for them with the best editorial in all of foodservice.
So much can be done on the iPad, from a magazine’s perspective. For example, you’ll notice that if you click on some of the photos on the iPad version of Pizza Today, an embedded video automatically plays. Talk about taking interactive publishing to the next level!
If you own an Android device, don’t feel like you’ve been left out in the dark. While the market share for iPads is through the roof (in fact, iPad owns an astounding 73 percent market share, says Forrester Research … no Android device owns more than a five percent share, according to Tech Crunch), we recognize that there are just some people who will prefer an alternative format. For those who favor Android systems, we’re working on an app for you, too.
As magazines change in the digital age, we are committed to being the leader in this category. That’s why I’m asking for your feedback. What do you like about magazines you read on your iPad? What catches your eye, what bores you? What do you like about the Pizza Today app? What do you dislike about it? How can it better serve you in the future? What would you like to see as it evolves? In short, how can we make it better and match it to your needs and desires as a reader?
We’re eager to please.
Jeremy White, editor-in-chief
A Conversation with Alex Gruber
Co-owner Gruber talks display cases, stuffed pizzas, quality and its Philly cheesesteak.
The displays allow customers to sample our pies and decide which is the favorite. We are always willing to help them along and explain not only what is in all the pies, but recommend a pie they would like based off of their particular palate. This definitely increases our specialty pie sales, as well as gives customers a better idea of what kind of toppings are available.
Over the years there have been about eight staple stuffed and specialty pies that customers have come in daily looking for. Of those eight, we like to make sure at least 6 of them are always on the counter. We also need to have a balance on the counter of chicken, steak, vegetarian, meat, and supreme or mixture of topping pizzas to always have something for everyone. The counter holds 12 pies that can be displayed, with typically an extra two or three pies ready in waiting when one sells out. We typically have the staple pies that we know customers are going to want, then rotate an additional six to eight new or not as frequently displayed pies for customers not looking for the normal.
The stuffed pies are started with buttering a pizza pan. Then we stretch out a dough ball and lay it on the pan. Apply a thin layer of cheese, topping for the particular pie, then another thin layer of cheese. More dough is added and braided together with the bottom piece. That cooks in our oven for 10 minutes. It comes back out, then we apply cheese and the toppings and put it back in the oven for another 10 minutes. Five minutes in, we slide the pie off the tray to allow the bottom of the pie to crisp. Don’t go taking our ideas though. Just kidding… but really.
Few of our employees are allowed to make pizzas, and to be honest (only a) few want to. On a typical Friday, with counter food included, the pizza guy for that day will make upwards of 250 pizzas. We expect all the way through, from the first pie at 10 a.m. when we open to the last at 10 p.m. when we close, to be made to the best of their ability and the same every time. It’s a learning process. We start them off with measurements, then our hands become the scales.
We don’t have the typical Philly cheesesteak with whiz and onions on our menu. Our basic Cheesesteak comes just steak and American cheese. Customers in this area like it — and we like them, so we do what makes them happy. We are close enough to the city that we have the occasional order for a cheesesteak the “Philly” way, but have had success with our style. We don’t want to step on Pat’s or Tony’s shoes.
Beer sales in U.S. restaurants rose by 9 percent last year.
According to American Heritage, the number of American pizza parlors grew from 500 in 1934 to 20,000 in 1956.
Last month’s International Pizza Expo in Las Vegas concluded with a $20,000 giveaway to one lucky attendee.
/// Places That Rock // Green Zone Pizza / Mia's Pizza / Buck & Johnny's Pizzeria
Green Zone Pizza
17008 Kercheval Street
Grosse Pointe, Michigan
Green Zone’s carbon footprint is treading lightly. Its eco-friendly location features walls made of sustainable bamboo, LED lights and a counter made from recycled bottles. It even has a hybrid delivery car. The company has applied for LEED certification (and, if granted, it will be the first LEED-certified pizzeria in Michigan). The menu itself is teeming with environmentally friendly components. Most ingredients are local; meats are all natural with no steroids; and produce is pesticide free. Signature pizzas include the Michigan Cherry BBQ Chicken with free-range chicken, cherry bbq, red onions and mozzarella ($18 for a large) and the Michigan Shrimp Pizza with Michigan farm raised roasted shrimp, cilantro pesto, roasted peppers, spinach and mozzarella ($19 for a large).
4926 Cordell Avenue
Mia’s owner, Melissa Ballinger, has earned acclaim as a top-notch chef in the Washington, D.C. metro area. With 19 small-plate options, Mia’s offers a twist to traditional appetizers with dishes like deviled eggs (which have made a noteworthy resurgence in recent years) and cauliflower fritti for $5 each. Nightly specials that promote entrée dishes highlight the menu including a “Meat Free Monday” feature. Mia’s wood-fired pizzas range from a littleneck with clams in the shell, garlic, capers, spicy sprinkles and Parmesan at $14 to the alsace with pancetta, caramelized onions, gruyere, parmesan and thyme at $13. Beside the usual, Mia’s kid’s menu also features a unique item: a fruit plate at $4.
Buck & Johnny’s Pizzeria
100 Berard Street
Breaux Bridge, Louisiana 70517
Buck & Johnny’s sits in a small town just outside of Lafayette, Louisiana, which has put itself on the map as a culinary capital in the South. Opened in 2010, the pizzeria brings that same flare to an old building that formerly housed an auto dealership and garage. In keeping with that ambiance, oil can light fixtures and tin signs accentuate the dining room. Second story balcony seating overlooks the entire restaurant. It offers an eclectic menu with pies sliced into squares. Buck & Johnny’s has garnered kudos for putting gator on its menu. The Bayou Blast includes red sauce, cheddar, alligator sausage, taco, shrimp, crawfish, jalapenos and onions at $22.50 for a 14-inch. Another Louisiana specialty pizza is the Muffuletta with garlic herb oil, provolone, mortadella, salami, capricola, marinated olives and sesame seed at $22.50 for a 14-inch.
Pizza Expo Rocks Las Vegas
BY BILL OAKLEY, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT
I want to personally thank all the pizza professionals who attended this year’s International Pizza Expo®. This year’s show was undoubtedly one of the biggest and best industry events ever held, with a show floor the size of nearly 5½ football fields, 430 exhibiting companies and 950-plus booths all devoted to America’s favorite food –– pizza! Pizza professionals from all over the world packed the exhibit hall and seminar rooms in search of new products and information.
You could feel the excitement and electricity coming from our contest and demonstration areas, where the World Pizza Games® and the International Pizza Challenge™ were being held. This year we had a record 12 world titles up for grabs between the World Pizza Games® and International Pizza Challenge™. Throw in the $20,000 MEGA BUCKS Giveaway and the New Exhibitor Treasure Hunt and we had nearly $70,000 in total prize money awarded this year. If you couldn’t attend this year’s show and you’re wondering who walked away with the hardware, cash and bragging rights, please make sure to read the Expo wrap-up article in the May issue of Pizza Today.
The great thing about Pizza Expo is that no matter how many times you’ve attended past shows, there’s something new each year that you can learn or implement to improve your pizzeria. In fact, I know it seems a long way off right now, but it’s never too early to start making plans to attend next year’s Expo, which will be held March 19–21 at the Las Vegas Convention Center. There’s no telling what we’ll come up with to top this year’s show, but I’m sure we’ll plan several exciting new twists for 2013. As always, we want you to know that we are committed to improving and increasing the number and quality of exhibits, demonstrations, competitions and seminars at our trade shows.
When deciding on which trade show to attend, bear in mind that general foodservice shows are precisely that … even if they claim to have a pizza pavilion, contests and a few pizza exhibitors. Remember, if you’re looking for new pizza products, suppliers or networking opportunities or just a few ideas on how to improve your pizzeria, then International Pizza Expo® is the ONLY show for you! For more information on Pizza Expo, please feel free to give us a call at (800) 489-8324.
It’s all PIZZA and it’s all for YOU!
Executive Vice President
Fruit pizza toppings add a whole new flavor dimension
BY DENISE GREER
PHOTOS BY JOSH KEOWN
Hawaiian Pizza and its variations broke the mold years ago, combining sweet, tart pineapple with savory, salty ham to create a menu favorite across the country. While pineapple has become a mainstay on many pizzerias’ toppings lists, there is a world of fruits just waiting to find their way onto your pizzas. Mango, cranberries, apples, cherries, figs, avocados and even watermelon might be just what you’re looking for to ignite a wave of enthusiasm from your customers. Watermelon, for instance, may seem like an odd pizza topping. But when Executive Chef Jason Sondgroth at Paesanos in Sacramento, California, paired watermelon with prosciutto, feta and a balsamic reduction, it became a wonderland of palatable sensations. He says he wanted to create something that was reminiscent of a picnic. It became an instant hit, along with another creation: the Gorgonzola & Fuji Apple Pizza with olive oil, garlic, caramelized onions, spinach and mozzarella. If you are already offering fruit-based, house-made desserts, it’s as easy as creating a crave-able pizza, making those fruits available on the pizza line and training your pizza maker to get the right formula down and your servers to entice adventurous diners. What should you think about when it comes to incorporating fruit on pizza? The flavor combination is key. It’s a balancing act, according to co-owner and chef Brandon Case of Peel Wood Fired Pizza in Edwardsville, Illinois. Working with co-owner Patrick Thirion, Case says, “we like to pair the sweet and savory together and the hot and cold together.” For some pies, the fruit is baked right in, while for others, Case says, chilled fruit is used as a garnish. Either way, Case says the options enhance Peel’s menu offerings and carry a similar food cost to many of the other vegetables his restaurant uses.
Last fall, the Crème de Brie Pizza debuted on Peel’s menu with prosciutto, Granny Smith apples, Brie cheese and fresh sage. Case says it’s a lighter style pizza that customers responded so well to that it will stay on the menu through the next cycle this year. Peel introduces many of its fruity concoctions through its chef’s specials, like the Wood Fired Chicken and Strawberry Pizza. The slightly smoky flavor of the chicken really pairs well with the strawberries, as well as many other fruits, Case says. John Gutekanst, owner of Avalanche Pizza in Athens, Ohio, experiments often with various fruits. He finds they hold several benefits. “Fruit is a champion because it acts as a palate cleanser, flavor enhancer and intensifies savory flavors all at the same time,” he says. When looking for the right accompaniment to fruit, Gutekanst says, consider the following meats:
“These go great as long as you have a perfect combo of additional strong, sharp and ‘stinky’ flavors,” Gutekanst says. He suggests:
To enhance the texture, Gutekanst suggests giving the pizza a little nutty crunch with walnuts, almonds, pecans or cashews. Vegetables like arugula, spinach, sunflower sprouts and watercress can add an extra bite. Using fruit on pizza does result in one baking issue: water. “Baking is always a challenge with water,” Gutekanst says. “That’s why I prefer to use dried fruit and rehydrate in hot water.” Gutekanst says rehydrating is easy — plus dried fruit is packed with flavor. “The best thing is that this gives you double intensity of dried fruit and a limper, more digestible fruit,” he says, adding that he buys bags of dried mango, blueberry, cherry and cranberry and rehydrates them overnight. Is your mouth watering yet with the flavor combinations available? Experiment with an original pizza in your shop. It may hit big.
The Purple People Eater
John Gutekanst, owner of Avalanche Pizza in Athens, Ohio, says “I’ve been turning to fruit more and more these days as a complimentary or juxtapositional flavor, especially for salty and spicy pizza toppings.” He has created numerous insatiable pizzas that incorporate a variety of fruits. Try this sweet and spicy pizza:
1 dough ball
1 medium to large onion
3 chipotle peppers from a can with adobo sauce
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 cup dried blueberry
5-8 leaves of raddichio del Traviso (regular raddichio will do in a pinch) slice thin or thick depending on what you like
1 rasher of thick-cut bacon, cut into thin batons
5-7 ounces of fresh curd torn into chunks
Toss onions with olive oil in oven proof pan. Tear the chipotle peppers up and add to the pan with a small amount of adobo sauce (1 tablespoon). Heat in the oven for 12 to 16 minutes, tossing halfway to incorporate flavors. Remove from oven and toss dried blueberries, then put back in oven for 5 minutes until onions are limp. Remove and toss again, then put into a small container and cover to let the blueberries rehydrate with the steam.
Place chipotle mix on the dough, then place the sliced raddichio, the bacon and the fresh curd. Bake.
Denise Greer is associate editor of Pizza Today.
Raising the Bar
FAMOUS JOE'S BRINGS A BITE OF NEW YORK TO THE SOUTH
BY DENISE GREER, ASSOCIATE EDITOR
PHOTOS BY RICK DAUGHERTY
Notoriety. Famous Joe’s unique selling proposition —you see it in its name and logo. You see it when you walk through its doors. It’s visible on the walls and in a video playing over the carryout area. It’s the owner, Joe Carlucci. The three-time World Pizza Champion holds the Guinness Book of World Records for the highest pizza toss. Food Network, ESPN, FOX News, the Travel Channel, the Martha Stewart Show, and the Today Show have showcased his acrobatics and pizza baking talents. What better way to position the Huntsville, Alabama, area pizzeria than through its owner, who has received such acclaim in the industry? The pizzeria’s logo depicts Carlucci tossing dough. The employees wear red sports jerseys with No. 1 and Famous Joe’s in white or a long-sleeved t-shirt with “Fastest Pizza Maker in the World” on the front. It’s a built-in marketing vehicle at Famous Joe’s. His name carries a lot of weight in the suburban community of Madison, where his shop sits in a commercial retail building in front of a large grocery chain. In its first year, the 72-seat Famous Joe’s pulled just over $1 million in sales in 2011. Before opening Famous Joe’s, Carlucci got a taste for Huntsville’s southern hospitality when he consulted for Joe Moore at Tortora’s on the other side of town. He liked what the South had to offer so much that he stayed on as a general manager at Tortora’s, while continuing to consult, for two years before venturing on his own.
Carlucci has plenty of effective marketing tools in his arsenal, from community involvement to social media. Famous Joe’s is going beyond the traditional means of word-of-mouth. A local television reporter had just left Famous Joe’s when Pizza Today visited the pizzeria in February. The Internet was buzzing for the week prior about a Carlucci creation: the Tim Tebow Pizza. Without divulging his secret method, Carlucci created a portrait of Tebow on the top of the pizza. And it went viral. The pizzeria was able to capitalize on a Tebow mania that has flooded the Internet for the past several months. Carlucci doesn’t just plan to put famous faces on his pies. He sees a gold mine in its application. Instead of simply hosting a birthday party, he plans to offer portrait pizzas to his customers. “We’re going out and saying, ‘Hey, if it’s your son or your daughter’s birthday, get their face on a pizza,’” he says, adding that portraits will be used for other occasions like Valentine’s Day. He’s constantly reading about and studying the industry. He says he always thinks of ideas to better his pizzeria. “It’s just being one step ahead of the game,” he says. “I eat, sleep and drink pizza 24/7.” Carlucci and his pizzaiolos perform for a crowd of Famous Joe’s fans on Monday nights. It’s kids night. Kids 12 and under get to not only eat free, but also get their own dough to throw with the pros. The night pays off big for Carlucci. Parents having a great time and buying a beer or glass of wine more than pay for the 50-cent pizza that Famous Joe’s gives away, he says. “Would you rather have $3,000 on a Monday or $1,200,” he says, adding that he has earned returning customers by giving away $200 worth of kid’s pizzas. With more than 26,500 homes within a five-mile radius, Carlucci has targeted the area with direct mail. Carlucci sets high expectations for his pizzeria. The first year, Carlucci was focused on being a fixture in the growing community. “This year, I’m raising the bar even more.” He launched Famous Joe’s online ordering, text ordering and released an app for the iPhone and Droid. He also recently beat out a top chain to get contracts with the area’s parks and recreations by providing incentives to the departments of 10 percent back on the pizzas they sell. With a new high school being built a mile away, he is working with area schools to provide school nights and pizza parties. He’s also in the process of completing a nutrition menu so that Famous Joe’s can provide school lunches on Fridays.
The pizzeria menu sells itself. “The menu is a blend of my grandmother’s recipes and my recipes,” Carlucci says. Born and raised in upstate New York, the New York style pizza reflects his passion for flavor combinations. “The Grant” is a meaty favorite with seasoned sirloin steak, peppers and onion, house-made marinara sauce and mozzarella for $15.95 (12-inch). Famous Joe’s specialty pizza menu features pies like the “Haley” with Italian sautéed clams, bacon, roasted garlic and mozzarella at $16.95 (12-inch). There is also the top-selling “Tony G. Margherita”, a tribute to his mentor Tony Gemignani, who he says has helped drive his industry success. It’s a Neapolitan-style Margherita only available in the 12-inch size at $15.95. Carlucci takes as much pride in his other menu items as he does his pizza. House specialties include the Lasagna al Forno, ($9.95) a 20-year-old recipe; Chicken Scarpariello ($12.95); Chicken Sorrinto ($11.95); and Baked Manicotti ($8.95). Famous Joe’s has debuted a gluten-free menu, sparked by customer demand and his own health (Carlucci has recently been diagnosed with Celiac Disease, he says). Before launching a full gluten-free menu, Carlucci tested the market, running a few gluten-free pasta specials with great success. There is a separate oven in the back for the gluten-free items and the dough is brought in from Gemignani’s in San Francisco. The new gluten-free menu, he says, doesn’t really affect Famous Joe’s 28 percent food cost since it’s such a small offering. “It’s only six items,” he says. “It’s a couple of pastas, a couple of pizzas to let it work itself in.”
Carlucci streamlined his labor costs to 30 percent, including his salary. After a bumpy beginning of manning the pizza line himself every shift for three months and a high staff turnover, he put a freeze on hiring to focus on cross training. Servers can make salads and the dishwasher can make pizzas. Carlucci says he holds training sessions on Saturdays before opening. Here, crew members learn certain aspects of the restaurant, from stretching dough to phone etiquette. There are two desired effects for Carlucci: cross-training not only gives the pizzeria help in a pinch, it also demonstrates the value of employees who can perform multiple duties. As for the owner, Carlucci says he performs every duty in his shop. “You’ll see me cooking with my chef or doing dishes,” he says. “What I learned is you shouldn’t open a restaurant if you can’t do every single thing. You don’t have to do it everyday, but you have to earn and show [employees] the respect that you can do it.” After 15 years in the pizza industry, Carlucci has experienced both success and failure. “Without failing, I wouldn’t be where I am today,” he says. He’s happy with his single store operation, though he investigated expanding into the space next door. “I did a cost analysis of how much it would cost and how many people we would have to bring in and how much more labor would have to be, and it didn’t work out,” he says. For now, Carlucci says he has his sights set on continually moving forward with Famous Joe’s and helping other operators optimize their operations. u
Denise Greer is associate editor at Pizza Today.
A Neighborhood Place
TORTORA'S EXPANDS TO SERVE ITS SUBURBAN HUNTSVILLE, ALABAMA RESIDENTS
BY DENISE GREER, ASSOCIATE EDITOR
PHOTOS BY RICK DAUGHERTY
A January Pizza Today visit to Tortora’s Pizzeria in Owens Cross Roads, Alabama, came amid a flurry of excitement at the four-year-old business. Owner Joe Moore displays his multitasking mastery, fielding questions about his pizzeria while coordinating with his kitchen and dealing with construction issues for a quarter-of-a-million dollar expansion project. As Moore shared his story, the installation of a refrigeration unit that is expected to cool 16 beers on tap in his main restaurant wasn’t cooling properly and one of the beer taps needed an extra costly part to support a famed Irish beer. He takes these renovation bumps in stride, as he’s seen a few since he had envisioned expanding to include a patio for live music and a separate bar facility more than a year and a half ago. The pizzeria itself added a bar with high back seating to its open dining room with high ceilings, three sides of large picture windows and the pizza line in full view. Projecting the separate bar, Tortoras Bar & Grill, to open in September, Moore secured a $1,200 city liquor license. But, the bar and grill didn’t open until December 14. “So basically I got 17 days for $1,200.” he says, shaking his head. “But that is the way it goes in the restaurant business.”
Moore spared no expense when it came time to build out the bar and grill that accommdates 50. A heavy slate bar and high bar tables line the narrow space. There are six draft beers on tap with plans to expand to 10. Just off the bar is a pass-through window to a small kitchen offering different items than the pizzeria with emphasis on burgers, steaks, fish and appetizers. Moore says the menu is still evolving. The patio, with its capacity of 75, has a retractable canopy with a built-in guttering system, lighting and heaters, allowing for year-round use. With the additions, Tortora’s aims to be the neighborhood destination for the Huntsville bedroom community of roughly 30,000 within a five-mile radius, Moore says. Since the December opening, it’s been a slow start for the bar and grill, but Moore says a marketing push is underway. He expects his sales to bump 40 to 50 percent with the expansion, nearly doubling Tortora’s $900,000 annual sales from 2011. He hopes to recoup his recent facility investment within a couple years.
Tortora’s has already built a strong family following in the Huntsville area. The pizzeria just earned a “Best Pizza” in Huntsville title from a Huntsville Times reader poll in February. Moore says he had a lot of help when Tortora’s opened in 2008. “Joe Carlucci was a big part of that,” he says, adding that he consulted with World Pizza Champions Carlucci and Tony Gemignani and received advice from Big Dave Ostrander. Carlucci stayed on at Tortora’s after the grand opening to act as its general manager for two years. Tortora’s even has a pizza named for Carlucci with gorgonzola, mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, prosciutto, fresh basil, and a reduced balsamic vinaigrette. There’s also one named after Gemignani with mozzarella, gorgonzola, prosciutto, arugula and a reduced balsamic vinaigrette (no tomato sauce). Both pies are offered at $16.95 for a 12-inch. A top-seller is the Tortora’s Supreme (mozzarella, pepperoni, Italian sausage, ham, salami, red onions, mushrooms, black olives and green peppers at $16.95 for a 12-inch). Tortora’s Sydney Pizza is an award winner that features mozzarella, chorizo, sauteed cherry tomatoes, caramelized onions, bacon and fresh basil (also $16.95 for a 12-inch). Tortora’s menu is well-rounded with appetizers, salads, calzones, pastas, entrees, wraps, and pizzoli, in addition to its pizza. Even with more than 60 dishes, the restaurant runs a 26 percent food cost.
Tortora’s location provides both benefits and challenges. It sits perpendicular to a state highway, creating a challenge to see the restaurant from the street. In addition to signage, Moore has a billboard just as commuters come over the hill from Huntsville’s business district directing customers to Tortora’s. Right across the street is an elementary school, making community-based marketing a driving force for Tortora’s. Besides holding school nights, which give 10 percent of its sales back, Tortora’s also throws a pizza party for the home room with the best attendance. Each spring, Moore gives 100 percent of Tortora’s sales on one evening to support the Melissa George Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. “It’s a win-win because we give back and people come out and support us,” he says. As the community gets a feel for Tortora’s new layout of family dining, an adults-only bar and a lively patio, Moore says he keeps his vision in mind. “Ideally, I want to expand to a second location — but we have to get the patio wrapped up and streamline operations,” he says. “That’s what needs my focus.” u
Denise Greer is associate editor at Pizza Today.
How to submit your letter
Submit your letters via email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Back in the fall you mentioned something that made me think I’d have the chance to start reading Pizza Today on my iPad. What’s up???????
San Francisco, California
Brent, you are correct. We answered the very same question in our August 2011 Inbox. In that issue, we were asked by a reader in Indianapolis if we had plans to get Pizza Today on the iPad. We tipped our hats just a bit when we answered that reader by saying that we had several exciting projects in the works and by making this promise: Not only are we the leader in foodservice publishing today — but we’ll also be the leader tomorrow, as well.
Turn to page three and read the Commentary for the answer to your question (which, of course, is yes — our iPad app has arrived!).
I have a question regarding yeast. I use 2 ounces of wet yeast in my dough. What would be the equivalent in dry yeast? Thanks.
Johnny i’s Pizzeria
Snow Hill, Maryland
For this one, we tapped the expertise of our very own Dough Doctor, Tom Lehmann. Here’s what he had to say:
“To replace two ounces of wet/fresh/compressed yeast with a dry yeast, you will need to add either of the following, depending on the type of dry yeast selected:1) Instant Dry Yeast — 0.88 ounce (25 grams).
2) Active Dry Yeast — 1 ounce (28.4 grams).”
So, there you have it. Good luck with the switch.
Slice of Hope 2012
Do you have a date set yet for Slice of Hope 2012? You are doing it again, aren’t you?
Kelly, we are absolutely doing it again! Thanks for your support last year, and thank you in advance for your support in 2012. Last year, our inaugural Slice of Hope raised more than $100,000 for the Karen Mullen Breast Cancer Foundation. Our goal is to top that this time around by building on the momentum created in 2011.
We’ll be making some exciting announcements in the future. In fact, we’ll be calling you personally and inviting you to host a fundraising party — Slice of Hope 2012 is going to roll right into Florida this year! Be on the lookout for our call.
Building a Buzz
BY SCOTT ANTHONY
PHOTOS BY RICK DAUGHERTY
Running a janitorial service in the 1980s, I depended on good old word of mouth (WOM) to generate business for me. Pair that with a business card, and I had a good thing going. In the 1990s when I stepped into a failing pizzeria, I quickly found out that putting up an ‘Under New Management’ sign did not impress people and only started rumors. Positive WOM in this business does not just happen –– it has to be crafted and spread in a purposeful way. Now that we live in the age of Web 2.0 media, WOM has evolved into ‘Marketing Buzz.’ Simply put, this is the interaction of consumers which magnifies your marketing message creating a positive association, excitement and anticipation about your product or service. Why does buzz marketing work? Because when we touch emotions to capture people’s attention we get them to express themselves on our behalf, releasing a trustworthy ‘testimonial’ with a snowball effect.
This is a marketing tactic, not chance. In winning the pizza wars it is much like General Patton stated: “Untutored courage is useless in the face of educated bullets.” We need chatter about our business to be the result of educated buzz bullets. Joe Carlucci of Famous Joe’s Pizza in Madison, Alabama, took a novel idea and made it his own, creating a pizza with the likeness of football icon Tim Tebow on it. How did he create buzz? Carlucci combined technology with people skills. First he uses social media to promote his innovation. Through Carlucci’s promotions, Facebook shares and Twitter retweets, the Tebow pizza gained the attention of locals and the media. Carlucci was able to invite a local reporter to see and taste the Tebow pizza. It began buzzing nationwide.
Carlucci received orders for the pizza from Ohio, was featured on CNN headline news and was asked to do radio interviews from coast to coast. The buzz continued as Carlucci added a local aspect. “I am still pushing the whole story because the whole reason of doing this was to bring Tim Tebow to my restaurant for a fundraiser for my local city hospital,” Carlucci says. (For more, read the feature on Famous Joe’s on page 60.) Slightly more than two-thirds of the U.S. economy has been influenced by buzz. The hospitality industry is 54-percent driven by marketing buzz. “Word-of-mouth has a conversion rate of 20 percent and tends to have a 75 percent lower cost per acquisition than other channels. Investing time and effort into this will absolutely pay dividends,” says Johnathon Kay, ambassador of buzz at Grasshopper.com Marketing buzz is a modern day show-and-tell. First, products ripe for buzz are unique in some respect, be it in look, taste, convenience, or price. Second, products with great buzz potential are usually highly visible. Identify and promote your USP, realize that dining is a sensory experience. Take the unique aspect of your business and make it visible to your community. You can build buzz by combining personable skills with today’s technology. u
Scott Anthony is a Fox’s Pizza Den franchisee in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. He is a monthly contributor to Pizza Today and a frequent guest speaker at Pizza Expo.
Destination - Independence
BY STEVE RENKE
Twenty five years ago, I was a senior at Northern Valley Old Tappan High School, in NJ. I was a football player, skier, and very social. I had my entire life ahead of me, the world at my feet so to speak. Unlike many of my friends, heading off to college, I had different plans.
Entrepreneurship was on my horizon. I wanted to be independent, I chose to be a Pizzaman and decided to buy a pizzeria with two other partners; I could only invest a small portion which worked out to a 25% share in the business. The timing of the purchase, in fact, required me to provide my school with a note from my attorney, so that I would have an excused absence to attend my real estate closing. It was all a blur; I worked day and night to get the store ready. Every day I went to school, and then straight to work at the pizzeria, and then right after my graduation, I was working full-time. Like many of you reading this, I’m sure you can relate, I worked constantly, I only went home to sleep, and my social life was my business. The pizzeria provided me with everything, including a few headaches at times.
Two years later, when many of my friends were finishing their sophomore year in college, I finally saved up enough money and bought out my two partners. I was now the owner of my own destiny – a pizzeria, in a small town in New Jersey, just outside of New York City. I was on my own, and it was the best feeling ever. Here, I met my wife Moira, and began to grow roots, not only with a family, but in a community where I am known as Steve, the Pizzaman. This little business that I ventured into was now catapulting me into a life that I may have never known.
Over the years, I have changed, and so has my business, as the market has demanded it. I have learned so much, sometimes the hard way. The original business plan was pizzas, and a few traditional Italian dinners, but in the 90s I saw the opportunity to capitalize on the school/education market which gave me a larger customer base. In the early 2000s my customers wanted more; they were looking for gourmet pizzas, and dinners and I gave it to them. They were also looking for healthier options and I started to offer whole wheat pasta, pizza and even gluten-free pizza. This was the way to appeal to many more, while not increasing costs.
It has not been easy, I continue to look at every invoice, compare costs, and do my best to keep my overhead down, which many times meant working more, but offering a quality product was more important to me. I have seen the market rise, and fall and recently with the economy the way it is, my customers have been affected drastically. How have I survived? I have been able to change with my customers’ needs…..and the market.
In 2009 we rebranded ourselves, from Pizza Express to Demarest Pizzeria. We now do more catering, and continue to offer quality products, and I have also been contracted by local pools and sports programs to run their concession stands. I continue to advertise in print, and utilize Social Media ~ which is great! We now have a Facebook fan page which continues to grow every day.
You may wonder if I would change anything — NOPE, if I had to do it all over again, I would not change a thing, just with fewer mistakes. I will continue to know all of my customers by first name, will know their children’s names, and watch them grow up, and at the same time relish in my family’s growth! My wife and I now have three beautiful children, and if I had not owned the pizzeria, I may have never met my best friend. The best advice I can give, is love what you do, and be willing to change! I love being a PIZZAMAN!
Putting Up a Facade
Attract customers with an eye catching exterior
BY HEIDI L. RUSSELL
PHOTOS BY RICK DAUGHERTY & JOSH KEOWN
Magic occurs when the wall between you and your customers disappears. That’s the slight-of-hand trick used by architect Ed Shriver for a perfect building façade. Shriver is principal at Strada LLC, an architectural firm in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. “The best restaurant facades I’ve ever seen open up the wall, and the restaurant spills out on the sidewalk. People are walking by, pizza is on the table, drinks are in hand, and as you’re walking past and seeing that, you think to yourself, ‘That looks like a good place to eat!’ ” Shriver says. Your building façade, your calling card to the world, can dramatically affect foot traffic. It’s all about creating a warm and inviting entrance, Shriver says. And it’s doable, whether you’re in a strip mall or a historic structure, whether you have $1 million to spend or just $2,500, he adds. Here’s how to determine the best façade to fit your restaurant’s personality and how much to pay for it:Analyze the customers’ vantage point. Before you begin your project, put yourself in the customers’ shoes. Figure out how they see your building as they approach it. “It’s different if you’re on Main Street and people are walking up and down the sidewalk than if in you’re in the Moon Township Plaza, and people are driving through a parking lot to your place. If they’re driving or coming fast at you, they have less time to look at the building. You need something that reaches out. A giant pizza slice hanging off the side of the building is great for car traffic. Everyone knows what it means,” Shriver says. Next, decide why they’re coming to your pizzeria. Is it for a quick takeout pickup, or for a sit-down meal? “If your place is on my speed dial cell phone for delivery, don’t spend your money on the façade. Spend it on a GPS system for your delivery guys instead,” Shriver advises.
Make the most of your building structure. Strip mall locations require different approaches than historic former homes or stand-alone commercial buildings. Normally, large windows frame strip mall restaurants, “so breaking down the barrier is no big deal,” Shriver says. However, realize that because of the window, your customers are focusing on the interior, not the façade. “Does it look like a dump from the parking lot?” he says. “There’s a pizza place in my neighborhood that’s roughly the size of a powder room, and from the entrance, you can see everything. It’s an appetite killer. I don’t want to know how the pizza is made in all the gory details. Show me a painting of Venice on your wall. Give it a little bit of theater. It is literally theater, and you affect the emotions of people coming to the store.” With a historic home-turned-restaurant or earlier-century building, work with the building’s original components. “There is great architectural detailing that you can’t buy today,” Shriver says. “The first thing you have to do is clean it up. You want it to look old but fresh. It’s okay if the building is 75 years old as long as it looks clean and well-maintained.” Are you in a commercial stand-alone building? Then concentrate on making your restaurant uniquely stand out. Signage is part of that, and “awnings are great,” Shriver says. “Some of it is logical stuff, like making it open and inviting. One big mistake I see in older or less-affluent neighborhoods is that they’re so afraid of getting robbed that you can’t tell that the place is open. They put glass block in the window. You can’t see in, and there’s a solid wood door with a tiny window, and you go into a tiny vestibule, which is dark, and when you finally get inside, you ask, ‘Do I need the secret password?’ This is not welcoming.”
Drill down into the numbers on cost estimates. The difference between bids on your façade project comes down to clarity on what you want. Don’t “buy” an architect or a contractor based just on fee, Shriver says. You have to understand the reasons behind their project bid. Suppose you put out a bid for a project, and one architect says he can do it for $12,000, another says $16,000 and a third says $30,000. Call the high bidder and ask why he’s so high. He may explain that his estimate is derived from your drawing and the cost of building materials. Then call the architect who bid $12,000 and ask why his bid was so low. “He may say, ‘I get a deal from my brother-in-law who sells storefront materials.’ You may say, ‘I want to do what’s on my drawing,’ and he may say, ‘Well, that’s expensive.’ Make sure you’re talking apples to apples,” Shriver advises. You can determine if an architect’s style meshes with yours simply by looking at their portfolio online. Get recommendations from other restaurant owners, too. Seek out licensed architects via your state’s Bureau of Professional Affairs (usually found through a state Department of Labor). And if they are members of The American Institute of Architects, that means they fulfill additional continuing education requirements. For those in your area, see www.aia.org.
What if you’re on a tight budget, but your façade still needs a facelift? Shriver recommends three things that will cost less than $2,500: Assuming you have window visibility to start, spend the money on the inside first. “You want a good attractive paint job –– warm colors, like reds and golds –– so that at night, your restaurant is going to glow. There’s a reason they call them picture windows, not because of the view out but the view in. Think of it as a frame around the picture of the inside of your store,” Shriver says. Next, look at some type of awning or a blade sign that sticks out perpendicular to the wall or sidewalk. Lastly, look at the door itself. “If you’ve got a nice vestibule that’s easy to get through and has good visibility, that’s great. A nice glass door or vestibule will make sure the entrance is inviting.” u
Heidi L. Russell specializes in writing about the issues that affect small business owners. She is a regular contributor to Pizza Today and lives in Wilmore, Kentucky.
RAID the PANTRY
Optimize ingredients you have on hand
BY JEFF FREEHOF
PHOTOS BY JOSH KEOWN
It’s certainly important to consider and sample new items to incorporate into our menu to keep our customer base excited and interested. Although I do think it’s critical to periodically introduce new dishes, it’s not always necessary to bring in new ingredients. All too often we overlook the obvious –– existing inventory we already have. I know that I’ve said it over the years that when creating a menu, try to use your ingredients in as many places as you can, but now I want you to take a look at some of your basic ingredients and together, we’ll find new and exciting ways to create something fresh for your menu while increasing your rate of return with your current customer base.
Let’s take a look at some everyday ingredients and see what can be done with them. I’ll bet you use garlic in your restaurant. I use so much garlic and love it so much that I named my restaurant after it –– The Garlic Clove. I know it’s easy to use granulated garlic and I use some as well, but purchasing peeled garlic cloves adds a greater flavor. We chop some pretty fine in the food processor with a little bit of oil and use it in so many different recipes. I process it fine enough to then put into a squeeze bottle with a large enough opening to use on pizza and in sauté dishes, soups and sauces. You can also lightly coat garlic cloves with olive oil and slowly roast them in the oven. The first benefit is the aroma for all to enjoy; but, once garlic is roasted, it becomes tender and the natural sugars come out, so it’s not as abrasive as raw garlic. We served three cloves of roasted garlic in some olive oil to our guests for them to mash into the oil with their fork and dip their bread into. Customers feel like you’ve given them a pot of gold! The roasted garlic can be blended with butter to make a roasted garlic butter for use on bread, grilled chicken or steak, and it’s awesome as a pizza topper.
Spinach is also a favorite ingredient, and I don’t think it should ever be sautéed without garlic. They belong together. Most operators use spinach as a pizza topping, but I have come to find out that many use frozen chopped spinach. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I’d like you to consider switching to fresh baby spinach. This product is so much more user friendly than the spinach we used to buy with big thick stems that had to be removed, and was very sandy and needed to be thoroughly washed. Now it comes washed and ready to use. I love using fresh spinach on pizza (it’s important to make sure that it is under the cheese so it doesn’t burn). It’s a great addition as a spinach salad, or to add to our normal offerings like garden, Caesar, chef and Greek salads. I top our spinach salad with sliced red onion, crumbled hard boiled eggs, fresh bacon bits, dried cranberries and goat cheese rolled in crushed pistachio nuts and finely minced sundried tomatoes. Serve it with the customers’ dressing of choice. We recommend our slightly sweet honey–poppyseed dressing. Spinach is great in a spinach artichoke dip, in sauté dishes, pasta dishes and even on sandwiches. We sell an eggplant Florentine with breaded or grilled eggplant, sautéed spinach and roasted red pepper with honey mustard on our homemade focaccia bread and melted provolone. It’s an amazing sandwich, even if you’re not a vegetarian!
What are you using for bread in your restaurant? Even if you’re simply using sub rolls, you need to stretch that beyond sandwiches. Like me, I’m sure you want to use the freshest bread, and we all get frustrated when an employee forgets to close the package or container or when it simply gets a day or so too old and they lose their freshness. Don’t make the mistake of throwing away the bread and spending money on croutons for salad. With a serrated bread knife, cube it, drizzle a little melted butter or oil over them with a little garlic salt and bake them at about 300 F until they are dried out and crisp. These make perfect croutons for salad and soup. Also consider drying out your bread and then grinding it into breadcrumbs to be used for breading your eggplant or chicken, or even to be used in your homemade meatball. I used to have so much leftover bread that I started making bread pudding, which added a brand new top-selling dessert! Fresh tomatoes are certainly ingredients we all use in salads and on our sandwiches, but why stop there? Why not alternate sliced tomatoes with fresh soft mozzarella on a bed of spring mix with some fresh basil for a wonderful Caprese salad? How about dicing your ripe tomatoes and tossing them with some freshly chopped garlic, a drizzle of olive oil salt, pepper and a splash of balsamic vinegar and a dollop of pesto for a simple bruschetta to be served with some toasted or grilled bread? This is yet one more use for your day-old rolls.
Great northern or cannellini beans are very inexpensive and may be kicking around your pantry. Yes, they are perfect in soups, but why not use them for something I call Italian hummus? Drain your beans, place them in a food processor, drizzle a little olive oil and add minced fresh garlic, salt and pepper. Blend it until it is smooth and serve with toast points. This will be great to accompany our bruschetta tomatoes.
One more quick idea: Take the green, black and kalamata olives you have and add some capers, fresh garlic and a drizzle of olive oil. Course chop in the food processor — and you now have a homemade olive tapenade, which can also be served with toast points, spread on a sandwich or tossed with a pasta dish. Use these easy ideas to quickly add to your menu and take it to the next level! u
Jeff Freehof owns The Garlic Clove in Evans, Georgia. He is a frequent contributor to Pizza Today and a speaker at the Pizza Expo family of trade shows.
How protected is your staff from the competition?
BY HEIDI L. RUSSELL
PHOTOS BY RICK DAUGHERTY
It’s a small business owner’s nightmare: Discovering that the competition has “raided” your staff, leaving you with a skeletal crew to run your restaurant. Employee raids are unethical, commonplace and pose a real threat to you. “This sort of thing happens under the radar –– employee to employee –– and bosses are not informed,” says Sally Mounts, president of Auctus Consulting Group, a management consulting firm in Washington, Pennsylvania.
The best defense is an offense, so treat your employees well, train them how to handle a “raider” and take protective legal safeguards, say Mounts and J. Hagood Tighe of Fisher & Phillips law firm in Columbia, South Carolina. Tighe represents several pizza chains across the country in employment matters. Here are six steps to do just that:
Be aware of your competitive landscape. Know where your competitors are geographically because the nearer they are, the higher the chance of a raid, Mounts says. Raiding is more probable in metropolitan areas where people aren’t as likely to know their neighbors and will have fewer scruples about wandering into your establishment, she says. “The organizations more likely to be targeted are those where there are a lot of competitors in a small amount of space. If you have a town where within a five-block radius there are five pizza places, raids are more likely to occur,” Mounts says.
Know your legal rights and recourses. From a legal standpoint, most pizza restaurant owners do not have agreements with employees, who are often hired as “at-will” employees. As a result, the legal recourse is limited, Tighe says. In some states, however, the courts have recognized legal claims when a competitor tries to recruit most or all of another business’s employees, intending substantial harm. “These claims often arise under an unfair trade practices theory,” he says. Additionally, many states allow employers to require non-compete agreements or no raiding agreements, Tighe says. The non-compete agreements prevent an employee from going to work for a competitor for a specific time in a geographic territory. The no-raiding agreements prevent a former employee from attempting to hire your employees for a limited time. Understand, however, that these types of agreements are scrutinized by the courts and can be difficult to enforce “if not properly and narrowly drawn to protect legitimate interests,” Tighe says. “Further, some courts will not prevent raiding unless it is carried out by improper or wrongful means (such as lying to employees by telling them they better leave now, because their current employer is in financial ruin).” Form agreements typically are not enforceable. Instead, they must be customized to fit the need and reviewed by employment counsel, Tighe adds.
Thoroughly discuss raids during employee orientation. It’s important to nip this topic at the get go, Mounts says. “There is no other good time to address it,” she says. Explain that raiding falls into one of the “gray” areas of business that is unethical. “Remember the mantra, ‘forewarned is forearmed.’ A young employee who is approached may feel taken aback and may not know how to handle it. Tell them there is a trend in fast food where people walk off the street and offer jobs to workers. Say, ‘I want you to be aware of that. Don’t be taken aback. It’s not what we condone.’ ”
Take advantage of the close-knit aspect of your business. As a small business owner, you’re one or two steps above your workers and aren’t separated by several layers of management. You have a more tightly-knit, inclusive culture, and it should be easy to get information from your employees, Mounts says. “It’s a good idea to talk to your employees over a lunch period, asking them if they’ve ever been approached or know of anyone who has been. Those stories tend to circulate among peers.” Once a month, have a sit-down meeting over breakfast or lunch, off-site, with each employee. Discuss how things are going with them and with their career. Or, if you employ a larger staff, sit down with the entire group and ask for feedback about your strengths and weaknesses as a boss. This will give employees freedom to discuss what is bothering them and could ultimately prevent them from leaving. “There is safety in numbers,” Mounts explains. “They may tell you: ‘When you’re rushed, you’re impatient.’ Soliciting that feedback will always tell you important information about yourself.”
Lay out the facts. Owners and managers should mentor employees, and the discussion over raids becomes a good “teaching point,” Mounts says. Communicate that you practice “The Golden Rule,” which is that you wouldn’t do this to another business. Employees need to understand that you operate ethically and that raiders do not. Ultimately, they are affected by their boss’s ethics. “For example, if someone offers your worker $3 more per hour, tell them: ‘You’re within your rights to agree to that. However, the industry average is $X per hour, and I’m paying you a dollar more. Someone who is offering you more than that probably has some agenda. If they are stealing workers, what are the chances that they will change the rules down the line and lower your salary after you’ve burned your bridges?’ This gives your employee more of a perspective that there are some that conduct in less than an ethical way,” Mounts says. Also outline other factors to consider: the relationships with management, other employees and that you offer a comfortable place to work.
Discuss consequences with employee if they leave. Draw a line in the sand and stick to it. Explain that although you will write a good job recommendation for them, once they leave, they can’t come back under the circumstances, Mounts says. “You can say to them, ‘If you leave, it tells me that you just care about money, not our family atmosphere. We’ve spent time training you.’ Also tell them, ‘I’m all for fair competition and for you improving your life, but make sure what you’re doing is improving your life. I urge you to talk to whoever works there. See if you like the way they serve customers. Money isn’t everything.’”
Heidi L. Russell is a regular contributor to Pizza Today and lives in Wlmore, Kentucky
Safe, Not Sorry
Robbery preparedness and prevention training could save lives
BY DIANNE MOLVIG
PHOTOS BY RICK DAUGHERTY
Too often people don't think about robbery until it happens, and then it becomes top of mind," says Matt Martin, franchise training leader for Toppers Pizza, with 36 locations in eight states and headquartered in Whitewater, Wisconsin.
Toppers Pizza keeps robbery prevention and preparedness on the radar. "It's part of our training for everyone we hire," Martin says. "Our main message to employees is 'give the robbers the money. We can make more money tomorrow, but we can't replace you.'"
Security training experts emphasize that a robbery is no time for heroics. Unfortunately, an occasional news story pops up about an employee who fought off an armed robber and became a local hero. Experts emphatically recommend against such actions.
"In most commercial robberies, employees aren't injured as long as they cooperate," says security consultant and trainer Chris McGoey of Crime Doctor in Los Angeles.
McGoey advises against owners keeping a gun in the restaurant. If a robber has a gun pointed at you, you're not going to retrieve yours fast enough anyway, he explains, and quick moves may startle the robber into shooting you. Plus, if other employees have access to the weapon but lack a cool head and gun-handling skills, they could set off wild shots that injure others inside the store or out on the street. By introducing another weapon, "you're bringing more violence into an already potentially violent situation," McGoey says.
Untrained, panicky employees also can trigger violence inadvertently, says John Moore of Armed Robbery Training Associates in Spokane, Washington. He points to an incident in which a man entered a pizzeria brandishing a knife and demanded the cash register be emptied into a pizza box.
One of the two employees at the counter dashed across the room to grab a pizza box. Thinking the employee was running to hit an alarm or call police, the robber lunged for the cash in the register. In the process, and probably by accident, he badly cut the other employee on the arm as she was emptying the till.
"What the first employee should have done," Moore explains, "is say, 'I'm going to walk over there to get a box and come right back.' People get hurt or killed
because nobody trained them in what to do and what not to do."
Besides coaching employees in robbery survival, train them in practices that make your restaurant a less appealing target. Here are a few procedures recommended by security experts:
Keep minimal cash in the till. Make frequent cash drops into a locked drop-safe located near the cash register and securely
anchored in place. Let people see you put cash in there. Assume a robber might have been an earlier customer or former
employee who witnessed cash-handling practices.
Use time-delay safes. These won't open until at least 20 minutes after someone enters the combination. Robbers typically don't want to hang around that long. Post signage that your safes are on time-delay to deter someone who's casing your restaurant for robbery potential.
Don't go out the back door after dark for any reason. Keep back and side doors locked at all times. Going out the back at night is an invitation to robbers. Keep trash stored inside overnight, and let the daytime crew dispose of it.
Open and close using the buddy system. A minimum of two employees should be on duty at all times. One employee enters to check the premises for anyone hiding or anything suspicious. If all's well, the employee remaining outside gets an all-clear signal. Otherwise, the outside employee knows to call police. Then at closing, one employee goes out to check the restaurant's surroundings, communicates an all-clear signal to the other inside, goes to his or her car some distance away and waits to watch the other employee leave safely.
Your restaurant's physical features can attract or deter robbers. "They look for easy escape routes and dimly lit areas," says Furlishous Wyatt, business security specialist with San Francisco SAFE, a nonprofit crime prevention organization. "That's why you should have a security specialist or someone from your police department come out to your restaurant to look at the lay of the land."
Many police departments and crime prevention nonprofits also provide robbery training for employees. Some security companies have training available
online, often for free.
Wyatt advises keeping windows clear of signage, shrubbery and other obstructions. "Create a fishbowl appearance," he says, "so employees can see out, and passing patrol cars and citizens can see in."
Surveillance cameras, prominently announced, also make robbers think twice. Consider placing a monitor in the front of the house so people immediately see they're on camera when they enter. Wyatt suggests placing a camera at the front exit, too, and aiming it to catch a shoulders-and-up image of anyone leaving. Other cameras up in the corners may miss such images if robbers wear hats and hoods. If they have masks, they'll usually remove them on the way out to avoid drawing attention on the street, and you'll get a picture.
Silent alarms are another security tool. Put them in several strategic locations — under the front counter and in the kitchen, office, storeroom, cooler and so on. Be sure employees know to activate an alarm only if they can do so unnoticed.
Finally, one of the best robbery-prevention weapons is vigilance. Train employees to spot anyone who's hanging around inside or outside and perhaps casing the place. "Follow your instincts,"
Wyatt says. "If the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, something is wrong. Call the police." u
Dianne Molvig is a freelance writer in Madison, Wisconsin.
BY BIG DAVE OSTRANDER
Uncle Maddio’s Pizza Joint @UncleMaddiosKY
I very much enjoyed my Whole Wheat Baja personal sized pizza and Vanilla Dr Pepper yesterday at Uncle Maddio’s!
Why it works: Liking their own pizza aside, this Tweet let followers know that this Uncle Maddio’s franchise offers whole-wheat dough, a personal pizza and an uncommon –– yet popular –– flavor of a fountain drink. That’s a lot in one sentence!
If you’ve got a lunch meeting, we’ve got you covered! Work week lunch special: $6.95 for a sm one-topping pizza & sm drink. Plus, free WiFi.
Why it works: This Tweet was directed at the busy lunch crowd. A non-fast food lunch under $10 that includes a drink? That hits all the sweet spots, and the addition of the fact that the restaurant has free Wi-Fi targets those who prefer to work through the noon dining hour. Well done!
>> FEATURE Dish it Out
What is this pizza called Chicago deep-dish, and what makes it so different from other pizzas? In the truest sense, deep-dish pizza (pizza-in-the-pan is the alternate nom de pizza) is a first-generation descendant of what Italian-Americans commonly referred to as “tomato pie.”
To read the rest of this article visit: http://www.pizzatoday.com/Buckets/deep-dish-pizza
Facebook Pizza Feeds
Monkey Joe Des Moines Wednesdays are one of my favorite days here in the jungle because we have $1.99 Mini Monkey Meals. You can get a corn dog, hot dog, chicken nuggets, or a slice of pizza together with a small drink and a bag of chips for that low low price!! I think I will go for the pizza today!
Why it works: Is this special aimed at kids or adults? For $1.99, who cares? You can’t buy a frozen dinner for that price. Wednesdays are the day to eat at Monkey Joe’s!
Soda Creek Pizza Best in the Boat for 12 years! “Snow in Texas”: Fresh Dough, Chopped Garlic & Olive Oil, Mesquite Chicken, Artichoke Hearts, Fresh Tomatoes, Mozzarella & Ricotta Cheeses. Call 871 1111 to order... or order online from the icon to the left on our fan page. Use promo code “pilot” at checkout and save 20%.
Why it works: This Facebook post catches the eye with the description of a pizza, a phone number and a secret Facebook-only code. What a winner!
YOU'VE BEEN WARNED
Get a grip on these trouble spots before they get a grip on you
BY PIZZA TODAY STAFF
PHOTOS BY JOSH KEOWN
Here, we take a brief look at a handful of "tells" that can signal a business is in trouble, then tell you what to do about it.
Warning Sign: Your balance sheet is a wreck
You might have: Too much debt
Your balance sheet, simply put, is a current snapshot of your operation's health. It demonstrates your pizzeria's assets, liabilities and your equity as the owner. If your liabilities — the amount you owe — are too high, you could be in real trouble. Whether it be from tapping out your lines of credit or (gasp!) using credit cards for major purchases, a balance sheet that's out of balance is a disaster in the making.
Start by having an experienced foodservice accountant review your balance sheet. He or she will want to delve much deeper and will analyze your income statements, statement of cash flows, etc. If your debt is too high, you'll need an aggressive plan to pay it down. If adequate cash flow to accomplish this doesn't exist, then it is time to either cut costs or increase sales (or both). Easier said than done, we know. But an operation can't sustain a heavy debt load long-term.
Start with cost-cutting measures such as streamlining staff (cross training is the key here). But do not tamper with your product. (See next warning sign.)
Warning Sign: You are considering switching to a
cheaper cheese/sauce/vegetable/meat, etc.
You might have: To have your head examined!
Seriously, one of the biggest mistakes operators can make is to downgrade the quality of the food. It may make sense in your head: "If I save $XYZ per week on pepperoni, I can get back to break-even." Here's the problem: that subpar pepperoni isn't fit for an animal, let alone human consumption. As soon as your customers taste the difference (and believe us, they will), they'll abandon ship. And you're left with a shop full of bad inventory and no customers to serve.
Your customers don't visit because of your marketing. That got them in the door the first time, but it never brought them back again. They returned because they liked the food/service/price/convenience. Change your product for the worse … stand in the unemployment line. It's that simple.
Warning Sign: Your employees are demoralized
You might have: Poor management
Examine the body language of your employees. Are they exuberant, open and outgoing? Do they smile and laugh at work? Do they serve customers with pep in their step? If not, then management is failing the staff. In turn, the staff is failing the customers. And we all know where this leads.
Employees make or break the energy of an establishment, so it behooves you to keep your staff motivated and happy. When you see signs that your crew isn't happy, address them immediately. Find out what is on their minds and what you can do to make your shop the best place to work. If your staff feels underappreciated, that doesn't mean you have to automatically throw more money at them. Often, the answer is more about leadership and other perks, such as free meals at the end of a shift or learning trips to pizza-centric cities such as New York or Chicago.
A perk for you: employee retention measures can save countless hours and thousands of dollars that many restaurants spend on re-hiring and re-training the same position over and over again.
Darryl Reginelli, co-owner of Reginelli's Pizzeria in New Orleans, Louisiana, says: "the employer is responsible for fostering an environment that gets the new hire connected to the company and turns that employee into a 'keeper.' This is most easily done through clear, honest communication and support. A system of performance reviews that measure all applicable skills and traits should be used. Don't just talk to your employees about their performance. Instead, give them a typed or written review that can be discussed together and kept by them for reference. You'll find that your employees will value their reviews, good and bad, because their superiors took time to think about their future."
Additionally, Reginelli says it is crucial to "build a culture beyond the walls of your restaurant. Everyone wants to be part of something greater. Eventually, the job will become routine. Even your best employees will need a deeper connection to their work. Integrate your business into the community. Donating product, time and staff to local organizations and events benefits everyone involved. It's something your staff will be proud of and it will set your business apart from others."
Warning Sign: Sales are good, but profit is low.
You might have: A problem with employee theft
Sad, but all too true: employee theft happens in this industry more than anyone wants to admit. "Big" Dave
Ostrander says that one of his first assignments when he started consulting was to help turn around a group of pizzerias that were barely keeping afloat. The owners, he says, were in serious trouble.
"They had cashed in all of their CDs, 401ks and charged their credit cards to the max," says Ostrander.
At first glance, the situation had Big Dave puzzled. The group was receiving fair pricing from vendors and had implemented a solid portion control system. A closer look at the financial statements told Ostrander that the company was most likely being plagued by a thief on the inside. To prove his suspicion, Ostrander planted one of his former pizzeria employees on the pizza company's staff.
"He was hired in as a driver/rookie pizza maker," explains Ostrander. His real job "was to determine who was stealing and how much was being skimmed."
As it turns out, one general manager and several drivers were in collusion with one another.
"A year later," says Ostrander, "my client went from losing $40,000 a year to making $75,000. The $2,000-a-week
difference saved the operation."
You don't have to plant a mole to catch a thief. Often, a series of security cameras throughout your business — some of them fake, even — can make a big difference.
Warning Sign: Your food costs are trending higher
You might have: A battle with cheese prices
As of the time of this article, operators were getting a much-needed break in the cheese cost category. In early March, when we sent this issue to press, 40-pound cheddar blocks were trading at $1.46 per pound on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. Compare this to prices in the $2.15 per pound range in early August.
To seasoned operators, this up and down is nothing new. But to an inexperienced pizzeria owner, cheese price fluctuations can quickly kill the desire to own a restaurant. No one understands this better than Ostrander, who fields calls all year long about cheese prices, cheese usage and portioning cheese.
"Most foodservice distributors set the price of cheese, specifically mozzarella, on a weekly basis," Ostrander explains.
The weekly selling price is typically based on several factors. Ostrander says the five prime considerations are: cost of cheese from the factory, transportation costs from factory to warehouse, administration and selling costs, delivery costs and profit on the account.
It's important to know that, contrary to the belief of many pizzeria owners, distributors don't pave their offices with gold off of cheese sales. In fact, Ostrander says, "they make only pennies per pound in profit."
While that's good to know, it doesn't ease the burden on pizzeria operations. So, what are you to do? Ostrander recommends being an informed buyer.
"The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has created federal Standards of Identity for mozzarella based on moisture (water) and milk fat content," he explains. "Whole milk and part-skim mozzarella is allowed to contain moisture contents between 52 and 60 percent. Cheeses with moisture contents this high are hard to process, age quickly and don't bake up well. Low moisture, whole milk and part skim mozzarella (LMWM, LMSP) contain moisture contents of 45 to 52 percent moisture. Pizza cheese can't be called
mozzarella if the moisture content is higher than allowed by the USDA. Cheese with 45 percent moisture is not the same as cheese with 52 percent moisture, even though they carry the same name. The higher moisture cheeses have a lower production cost because water is cheap. Bargain and economy cheese will most likely have these higher moisture contents and sell for a lower price."
Translation: choose the right cheese for your operation. This, says Ostrander, "starts with comparing the baking and eating characteristics of equal portions of competing brands. Sometimes a higher cost per pound premium cheese will yield a pizza that is better tasting and better looking using 10 to 15 percent less cheese per pie. Instead of comparing price per pound or ounce from competing brands, you may want to compare cost per pizza using fewer ounces."
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