Photographs By Josh Keown
Minding the complexity of the Americans with Disabilities Act may make your head spin with worry. Face it –– this law creates frustration for many, not only because of the business cost it incurs, but also because of fear that an unhappy customer will sue you for an overlooked incursion.
But take heart, because the ADA can be boiled down into a simple rule of thumb: “Be cognizant, caring and aware. That’s all you have to be, and that’s ADA-compliant,” says James Sinclair, who consults restaurant owners on opening and growing businesses, as well as handling “distressed” operations.
As president of OnSite Consulting of Los Angeles, Sinclair also advises on ADA compliance. “Think of it in the human sense,” he says. “All you’re doing is trying to ensure that anyone who walks into your restaurant can enjoy the experience. It’s about care — being a caring owner and recognizing that’s the law.”
Small restaurant owners in particular may feel ADA compliance is financially onerous. Yes, this is a required aspect of doing business. But, it can be seen positively: It’s an opportunity to show the community you’re a friendly establishment, worthy of their patronage, Sinclair and other experts say. Plan for ADA accommodations to work for your space, while also making the front of the house an accessible, friendly place.
In July 2010, President Obama announced the most significant changes to the ADA since it became law in 1991, says Kevin Hughes, who has researched the ADA changes extensively. He is vice president for Project and Development Services at Jones Lang LaSalle, a Chicago-based firm that specializes in real estate services and investment management.
Under the revised law that took affect March 15, 2012, there are strong penalties for offenders: fines up to $55,000 for the first violation and $110,000 for the second. “In some cases, organizations have paid much larger additional amounts to compensate individuals involved in lawsuits,” he says. “And following litigation, courts often dictate remediation schedules, removing control from the organization and often resulting in greater overall expense.”
One example is NPC International, which is the largest franchisee of Pizza Hut restaurants. The company must make accessible improvements to dining and counter service areas, restrooms, entrances and parking areas at about 800 locations, Hughes says.
“Compliance is also good business,” Hughes says. “Many associations publish guides and rating systems that evaluate businesses such as hotels and retailers according to accessibility for disabled persons.”
A Small Business Administration loan can help pay for required changes, Sinclair says. “A dollar saved today is a thousand-dollar cost tomorrow. If you say, ‘I don’t have the $15,000 to buy this,’ you can lease it or finance it. It’s like saying, ‘I can’t afford a stove.’Then you probably shouldn’t open the business,” he says.
Jeff Farney owns Complete Access Solutions LLC of Wichita, Kansas, a firm that consults full-time on ADA compliance. Many small businesses don’t realize there are also tax incentives for “barrier removal.”
“Some of (the tax write-off ) is significant,” Farney says. “what’s available will take, in most cases, 80 to 90 percent of the cost away of modifications, the priority stuff. with new construction, ADA compliance accounts for less than two percent of the total cost of a project, on average.
Here are the usual “red flags” for inspectors and complainants, Farney says:
- A lack of compliant accessible parking spaces. This includes “van accessible” spaces, access aisles and vertical signage. Numbers of accessible spaces required is based on total parking spaces available. Additionally, accessible spaces should be on the shortest route to the accessible entrance and should be level (slopes of two percent or less) in all directions.
- Accessible route to the accessible entrance from parking spaces. Accessible routes are at least 36-inches wide, have slopes no greater than five percent and are free from changes in level (thresholds) greater than a ½-inch beveled.
- Entrance doors with opening hardware that can be opened with a closed fist. “Panel” style hardware is NOT compliant. entrance doors should have a clear opening at least 32 inches wide and thresholds should be no higher than a ½-inch beveled.
“I commonly see condiments and self serve soda dispensers placed too high –– they shouldn’t be higher than 48 inches. I also see register counters too high –– they shouldn’t be higher than 34 inches,” Farney says.
When in doubt, find an ADA consultant, and check their references, Farney says. If you need technical advice, contact the US Department of Justice at www.ada.gov. This site includes information about changes to the ADA law.
Heidi Lynn Russell specializes in writing about the issues that affect small business owners.
We currently make up our dough, round it and put it in baggies. We use it within a couple of days, and this works well for us. My question is: Do we need the rounding step, or could we just cut and bag? Eliminating the rounding step could save a substantial amount of time over the course of the week/month/year. Would there be any loss in quality of the end product?
Alex Gordon, Pastry Chef
Senator Inn and Spa
Hello, Chef Alex. Fresh-made pizza dough balls have a memory. I also weighed out and rolled all of my dough balls to be used at a later date. If you skip the rounding it will become almost impossible to create a round finished dough skin. The shape you start with is generally the shape you end up with. Start with a star-shaped piece and you’ll end with a larger star shaped skin. The only exception to the rule is when you flatten dough by running it through a sheeter. After placing the oversized dough skin on a cutter pan or screen, the excess edge is cut off with a knife or roller cutter. This creates a round base but you won’t have much of a raised dough edge. I’d keep doing what you’re doing. I allowed a dough prepper nine seconds to manually shape my dough balls.
Instead of storing my fresh dough balls in plastic bags, I placed them staggered, “smooth side up,” on a common 18-inch by 27-inch lightly oiled aluminum sheet pan. I then covered the whole tray with either a piece of 24” film wrap to make it airtight or a bun pan bag. I dated the tray, with a magic marker or label, and stored these dough balls on a rolling speed rack in the walk in cooler. We used the oldest dough first.
I have to tell you that I fell in love with a commercial dough roller after using one at a client’s operation on Hilton Head Island. Although many operators consider these pieces of equipment a luxury purchase, I think not. After hand rolling my first million or so dough balls, your poor “tennis elbow” inflamed forearm will thank you.
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.
Photos By Josh Keown
In 2002, my menu consisted of cheap deals, 23 toppings, one sauce, one crust type, no specialty pizzas, no calzones and no wings. I advertised how good my product was but got tired of telling customers, “That’s all we have, take it or leave it.”Then one day I changed my menu mix in a big way with the help of Porsche and BMW.
That day, the radio declared that the two companies were making cars for yuppies who earned from $50,000 to $70,000 a year. This technique of sales was called “tiered pricing” and offered cars that were smaller and cheaper but sold like hotcakes, ensuring extra revenue for the makers. I decided to try this in inverse and immediately introduced 10 specialty pizzas with four toppings apiece. I priced them higher than if they were ordered by topping only. The food cost was 27 percent but I didn’t have to discount them and sold them in large, small and calzone versions.
Now, ten years later, I have 53 toppings in my menu mix. all of these toppings in my 30-plus specialty pizzas appeal to the following customers:
- Those who watch televised culinary shows (such as “Iron Chef” and “Top Chef”) and have sophisticated palates.
- Those who love ethnic foods such as Chinese, Indian, Italian, French, Japanese, Greek
- Vegetarians and vegans
- Gluten intolerant customers
- Older adults with dietary restrictions
- Risk takers
One of the best decisions I’ve ever made was to introduce a béchamel. It’s easy to make this savory sauce alternative either from scratch, a powder or frozen. a case of frozen béchamel at $50 can yield 240 two-ounce portions at .21 cents each pizza. here are some of the best combinations paired with béchamel for an explosive base on any pie:
- Cheeses. They melt to perfection, stretching their savory flavors more economically than if you had strewn a two-dollar handful of expensive cheese on the pie. feta, asiago, Gorgonzola, cheddar and Gruyere are favorites in my store. Just a few ounces can produce a flavor explosion.
- Pestos/sauces. Basil, sun-dried, chipotle, Indian masala, Jamaican jerk and teriyaki are now available. Pestos are frozen for under $55 for six-30 ounce containers and can be cut with a 70/20 mix of water depending upon the intensity, or you can make it yourself. Just squeeze atop the béchamel and top with cheese.
- Powders and onions. Super fab combo! Consider cumin, curry, chipotle and paprika shaken on onions and drizzled with oil. run it through your oven until they are soft. Mix with béchamel or grind up to a sauce then mix.
All this may sound expensive to employ, but I’ve done it for 10 years now. I watch my food cost like a hawk but I also have a better roI (return on investment) from new and exciting pizzas than from expensive ads telling customers how great my products are. Besides –– beating the chains with culinary innovation is more fun than mimicking their moves. It’s just a matter of show rather than tell.
The classic béchamel sauce is more than 300 years old, and it can be the base for many other sauces (including alfredo). Check out the recipe at right. once you’ve got it down, it can be customized to include bay leaves, fresh nutmeg, cheeses, egg yolks, onion and other ingredients. u
John Gutekanst owns avalanche Pizza in athens, ohio. he is also a speaker at International Pizza expo and a member of the World Pizza Champions.
BAKED SPAGHETTI WITH BECHAMEL SAUCE
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 cup Parmesan cheese (or Parmesan Reggiano), divided
12 ounces spaghetti, cooked tender
1 cup grated mozzarella cheese, divided
1/2 cup béchamel sauce
In a bowl, stir ricotta cheese, egg and ¾ cup Parmesan cheese. In a baking dish, layer cooked spaghetti, half of the ricotta cheese mixture and 1/3 cup mozzarella cheese. Repeat with one more layer. Drizzle with béchamel sauce and top casserole with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses. Bake at 450 for 25 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly. Cook’s notes: You can use a Bolognese sauce with this recipe, or advertise it as vegetarian. Watch baking times, since your pizza oven is likely to bake at different temperatures.
BRUNO'S BRUNCH PIZZA
1 cup béchamel sauce
1 teaspoon unsalted butter
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 12-inch pizza shell
4 3-inch-diameter slices Canadian bacon
1/2 pound mild cheddar cheese, shredded (about 1 cup)
Make the béchamel sauce following the steps in the base recipe. Set aside. In a small non-stick skillet, melt the butter over medium heat until it just starts to foam. Stir in the eggs and scramble just until the eggs are set. Set aside. Spread the béchamel sauce evenly over the pizza shell up to the border (leave about 1/4 inch of border). Arrange the Canadian bacon slices evenly over the pizza. Spread the eggs evenly over the bacon. Sprinkle on the cheese. Bake.
More recipes from Chef Bruno
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
¾ cup milk
1/8 teaspoon salt
Combine until all ingredients are well mixed. (Thickness depends on your ratio of flour to milk and butter.)
Once you’ve got the basic sauce down, you can customize your pizza and pasta dishes.
Looking to upgrade your menu? Pizza Today’s resident chef has the recipes you’re looking for at pizzatoday.com/bruno
What inspires you? What makes you want to be the best pizza maker or business owner you can be?
Money is one of the obvious answers. As a business owner, your hope and expectation is that you will ultimately provide your family with a high standard of living. But do you truly use that expectation as motivation and carry a fire inside you when you walk through the doors of your shop each and every day? Years ago, when you started your business, you probably possessed deep within you a longing — a persistent ache that kept you awake at night. Opening your own business was all you could think about. It wasn’t merely something you wanted to do … it was something you HAD to do.
You took a risk. You borrowed money. You found a way to make your dream happen.
And then, quite possibly, somewhere along the way you found complacency. You hit a certain sales level that satisfied you. Once you became satisfied, you became uninspired. Your exciting career as an entrepreneur turned into more of a chore. You stopped creating. You played defense instead of offense.
If this has happened to you, you aren’t alone. But you can’t stay stagnant forever — doing so is the kiss of death.
John Gutekanst opens his article on béchamel sauce (page 38) by briefly alluding to a time in his business’ life cycle when he was less than inspired. Then a light bulb went off inside his head and a successful menu expansion that ultimately led to increased sales ensued. Had he been overly complacent, he would have dismissed the ‘a ha’ moment as a good idea that just might require too much work. But somewhere deep inside he was still hungry, so he acted.
John’s inspiration was a new marketing campaign by BMW. What’s your inspiration? Quite possibly you’ll find it in John’s story. Perhaps you’ll find it elsewhere in this magazine. Or you might find it from an employee or at home. Don’t stop looking for your next big moment or it will pass you by. This business is too competitive for complacency. Ours is an industry that rewards creativity. Get started on your next big thing now, before the guy up the street beats you to the punch.
Jeremy White, Editor-in-chief
The key to Rocco’s Pizza longevity? Hard work, sacrifice and family unity. We celebrated our 50th anniversary by offering two types of 12inch pizzas: cheese ($1.95) and pepperoni at ($2.25) at their original 1962 prices. We redesigned our pizza boxes, we gave out magnet and key chains and distributed a press release to make the local media aware of our milestone anniversary and our promotion. The food editor of our local newspaper, the Akron Beacon Journal, and a photographer came to the shop and interviewed me and the entire family. They then came back to cover the celebration. They were impressed by the turnout — 1,000 people passed through our doors and we sold 900 pizzas in six hours. The wait was about 90 minutes at its peak. The line was orderly and nobody complained about the wait. It was a big party. All our workers did their tasks well. My wife, Gina, my mom, Luisa, my sister in-law, Julie, and a cousin, Kim, took care of making the dough and prepping the pizzas. Then we had the baking crew. One fed the oven, one took the pizzas out, one cut them and gave the pizzas to our cashier, my sister Rita. My father, Mario, my brother, Mario, Jr. and I greeted all our loyal customers. My father reminisced with some of our longtime customers. One even showed up with an original menu from 1962! The plan that I set up worked well and was orderly. It was a huge success. Customers and workers alike had a great time.
My dad remains a confidant, giving advice when needed and consulted when necessary. He did not meddle, giving my brother and I free rein to run the business. My mother comes to work every day to help me with prep work in the morning for a couple of hours. She loves it.
Making meats in house: The advantage is that we know exactly what we are getting when we order fresh ground pork and ground beef. We use our own seasoning recipe and no fillers to stretch the product. There is no substitute for freshness.
Sheet pizzas are baked in 18-inch by 24-inch pans and are one of our best sellers. We cater them to schools, office and factories for pizza parties or fundraisers. One school orders a quantity each week and sells them during lunch with the proceeds used to subsidize prom at the end of the year. We average about 100 a week. We were the first to introduce sheet pizza in this area around 1975. They are the best value, as one sheet equals four 12-inch pizzas.
Our Portage Trail (Cuyahoga Falls) location has a party room that can accommodate groups up to 40 people. The room is lined with classic arcade video games for the groups’ enjoyment at no extra charge.
For larger occasions we offer a special catering menu with items not on the regular store or carry out menu. We are licensed by the state of Ohio to cater school lunches. We do not limit this to pizza but we offer whatever menu the school requests including chicken, fried potato wedges, salads, subs, pasta or mac and cheese. We do not offer home delivery. We deliver any order to offices, schools and factories with a minimum of $50. We specialize in pharmaceutical representative orders.
Angelina’s Pizzeria and Café
300 S. Roosevelt #8
Seaside, Oregon 97138
This is a neighborhood spot that caters to its local fans. With so many rewards program cards offered today, Angelina’s holds onto its customers’ Frequent Diner Program cards for them. There is nothing else to add to a wallet or remember. The program offers a buy any five menu items and get one free. Angelina’s has a variety of combo and “Off the Hook” specialty pizzas like The Soprano with grilled chicken, pepperoni, roasted red peppers and fresh basil ($19 for a 12-inch) and The Lombardia with prosciutto, onion, gorgonzola and olive oil ($18 for a 12-inch). The pizzeria also offers vegetarian pies like the Caprino with mushrooms, Roma tomato, green pepper, black olives and red onion ($20 for a 12-inch) and the Spicy Veggie with mushrooms, red onion, roasted red peppers, pepperoncini peppers, fresh spinach, Roma tomato and Cajun spices ($20 for a 12-inch).
24 S. Township Rd.
Pataskala, Ohio 43062
This is one of those small town pizzerias that the community can’t get enough of. After 30 years, many of its patrons have been raised on its offerings. It’s a small red building with a dozen picnic tables in its dining room. Popular specialty pizzas include the Mexican with seasoned meat, mozzarella and cheddar cheeses and topped with shredded lettuce, cheese, tomato, salsa and sour cream ($16.75 for a 13-inch) and the Joe’s BBQ Chicken with BBQ sauce, seasoned BBQ chicken, blend of mozzarella and cheddar cheeses and red onion ($14.65 for a 13-inch). Capuano also uses its homemade pizza crust for the Lana’s Cinnamon Dessert with butter and cinnamon streusel and served with icing ($6.15 for a 13-inch).
Crostatas Rustic Pizza
558 Bishop Rd.
Highland Heights, OH 44143
You won’t find slices of pepperoni at this Neapolitan-style pizzeria in the Cleveland, Ohio, area. Crostatas serves up authentic pizza found in Naples, Italy with classics like the Margherita ($11.50), Quattro Formaggio ($14.75) and Bianca ($14.75). Other featured pizzas include the Caprese with Mozzarella di bufala, roasted tomatoes, caramelized onions, sautéed mushrooms and EVOO ($14.75) and the Alba with San Marzano tomatoes, capicola, arugula, fresh egg, Grana Padana and EVOO ($14). The dessert menu features a namesake pastry tart baked with fresh fruit ($6) and the Nutella Pizza, a hot calzone filled with the signature hazelnut spread ($9).
Photos By Rick Daugherty & Josh Keown
Q: What is the best way to determine if my dough has been correctly mixed?
A: While I don’t think there is a level of dough/ gluten development that is correct for all pizza doughs, I do think that for the vast majority of pizzeria operators mixing the dough just until it takes on a smooth, satiny appearance is sufficient. Mixing longer than this can make for a dough consistency that is more difficult to round/ball, and at the same time is harder on your mixer too. Some of the more notable exceptions to this are when frozen dough –– or emergency doughs –– is made. Frozen doughs exhibit improved tolerance to freezing and frozen shelf life if given complete gluten development in the mixing bowl. Emergency doughs, on the other hand, are mixed and used all within a very short period of time, as opposed to our regular doughs. They will typically exhibit improved performance characteristics (form easier, rise in the oven better, and exhibit reduced bubbling during baking) if mixed to about 75 percent of full gluten development. Another way to look at achieving this level of gluten development is to mix these doughs about 50 percent longer than you mix your regular pizza doughs, assuming you’re using a refrigerated dough management procedure. or, just mix the dough until it has a smooth, satiny appearance and refrigerated dough management process. package directions, it will get thoroughly distributed throughout the entire dough then mix it about 50-percent more. This will get you reasonably close to where you want to be. The reason why these doughs are given more development in the mixer than other doughs is because they will not be exposed to the normal
Q: I’ve heard that I shouldn’t dissolve instant dry yeast in the water before I add it to the dough, but does it really get mixed in if I don’t?
A: I know old habits are hard to break, mass and it will be properly hydrated for peak performance so long as your total dough mixing time is five minutes or longer. by prehydrating the yeast, you may actually be doing it more harm than good. This is because the yeast has biochemical gluten development that we but rest assured, by adding the instant dry been specifically engineered to beadded get with doughs that are subjected to the yeast (IDY) to the flour as directed in the in this manner. When added directly to the water there is a probability that some of the vital amino acids within the yeast cells will be flushed out, resulting in lessened yeast activity and possible inconsistencies in dough feel due to the presence of glutathione, one of the amino acids flushed out of the yeast cells. glutathione acts essentially the same way that L-cysteine (the active ingredient in PZ-44) does, so doughs may become softer, and not hold up as well during long-term refrigerated storage. If you’re looking for this type of effect, like L-cysteine, it’s available in a commercial form sold as “dead yeast.”
Q: We like the quality of bake that we get on our pizzas, but we would like to get a little more crust color without affecting the bake or flavor of the finished crust.
A: The typical reaction to getting what you want to achieve –– either a longer bake, or a hotter bake, or adding sugar to the dough formulation –– will potentially influence either the textural properties or the flavor of the finished crust, so we will assume that some other action must be taken. In this case, we have a couple of options. one is to simply brush the edges of the crust with oil. This will improve the edge color, but it will not influence the bottom crust color. If the edge color is what you’re looking for, this is a good way to get the improvement you’re looking for. The other way is to add dried, bakery- grade sweet dairy whey to the dough formulation. Whey is about 70 percent lactose (milk sugar), so it has a very low sweetness rating, so it will impart essentially no sweetness to the finished crust. Lactose is also reducing sugar so it aids in the Maillard browning reaction during baking, thus enhancing crust color development. As a side benefit, it is also nonfermentable by the yeast, so it will still be present even after much fermentation time, or days in the cooler. because the whey is added to the dough, it will influence the crust color on both the top and bottom of the crust. The amount of whey normally used to impact crust color starts out at two or three percent of the total flour weight and goes up from there until the desired effect on crust color is achieved. While whey is in a dry, powder form, it has very little influence on dough absorption properties, so when starting out using whey, don’t add any additional water with the whey powder unless you feel that it is absolutely necessary.
Tom Lehmann is a director at the American Institute of baking in Manhattan, Kansas.
We are pulling out all the stops to make sure next year’s Pizza Expo is the biggest and best show we’ve ever produced! Attendees will be able to choose from more than 85 pizzeria-boosting seminars, Power Panels, @PizzaExpo demonstrations and networking events. We’ve also expanded our pre-show seminar day that we specifically designed for new operators and first-time attendees, to include a Power Panel, six seminars and a closing-day reception with food and drinks. The best part of this intense 6½ -hour education program is that it is FREE to all registered attendees. We’ve also lined up several new speakers, including several who operate pizzerias, and developed new topics to make this the ONLY show you’ll need to attend all year to find out new trends in the pizza industry. You’ll have an opportunity to learn from the pros about today’s hot-button topics, such as social media marketing, menu design, employee motivation, dough dos and don’ts and Gen Y growth strategies.
Did you know we’ll be giving away more than $50,000 in cash and prizes during Pizza Expo? The best news is there may not be an easier way to win $20,000 in Las Vegas than playing the show-closing Great MEGA BUCKS Giveaway. And, if you’re looking to further increase your odds of winning some additional cold hard cash, you should also make plans to enter the New Exhibitor Treasure Hunt. You also have the opportunity to compete in the World Pizza Games, International Pizza Challenge™ or our newest competition, the Great Pizza Box Challenge. To enter the box competition, all you need to do is send us your box or bring it with you to Expo. The winner will take home $500 and the title of the 2013 World’s Best Pizza Box.
At International Pizza Expo®, you’ll have networking opportunities with some of the best and brightest pizza entrepreneurs and consultants. With all the choices available to you at Expo, it’s a good idea to start planning your show strategy now. Map out a list of education seminars you want to attend and start thinking about questions to ask at the Beer & Bull Idea Exchange®. Take a few minutes now to review the attendee brochure with this issue of Pizza Today magazine for a list of exhibiting companies, seminars, demonstrations and workshops. If you’ve ever seen or read about a product or service you’d like to have for your pizzeria, then chances are you’ll find it and just about everything else you’ll need for your pizzeria on the Pizza Expo show floor.
After another smashing success this past Expo, we’re bringing back Master Pizzaiolo Tony Gemignani for a third year of hands-on tutorials — Making Pizzas With Tony Gemignani. An 11-time World Champion and master-certified instructor from the Scuola Pizzaioli in Caorle, Italy, he trains and certifies pizza makers from around the world in styles from Italy and the U.S. Come see why Tony’s pizzeria was recently named best pizzeria in America by Great American Bites and learn the techniques he teaches at his school.
If you haven’t already registered to attend International Pizza Expo, the “World’s Largest Pizza Show,” you should stop reading this now and call 800-489-8324. Or better yet, preregister online at PizzaExpo.com and save $10.
Our combined staff at Pizza Today and Pizza Expo has been working for well over a year to produce the biggest and best show ever! In fact, we’re so sure that attending Expo will be the best business decision you’ll make this year, we’re guaranteeing it. If you’re not satisfied with your experience at Pizza Expo, simply outline your thoughts in a personal letter to me and I’ll see to it that you receive a prompt refund of your registration fee.
It’s all Pizza and it’s all for YOU!
Executive Vice President
Photos By Josh Keown
Nothing says Chicago like deep-dish pizza. This unique pie stands out with a crisp, biscuit-like crust that comes up the sides of a three- inch pan. it’s thick with cheese and other ingredients, and then topped with a chunky tomato sauce and baked for 30 to 45 minutes. Chicago is heavy with pizzerias that offer this iconic pie with both locals and tour- ists proclaiming loyalty to their favorites. but does it play outside of the windy City? The answer is yes, but in this global market of savvy customers, authenticity is the name of the game.
In 1943, Ike Sewell created Chicago-style deep-dish pizza and opened Pizzeria Uno in down- town Chicago. The concept later morphed into Uno Chicago grill, and now, 69 years later, boasts 136 domestic units in 24 states. “Customer expectations are high with deep dish,” says Chris Gatto, vice president of food and beverage and corporate executive chef for this boston-based chain. “They have an expectation of what Chicago-style pizza tastes like, and they expect a consistently great product every time they order it. we invented this pizza and we take a lot of pride in its authenticity.”
Authentic Chicago-style pizza dough contains quite a bit of oil, says Gatto. “you need that oil because the dough bakes for such a long time in the oven,” he says. “it almost fries, giving you that crispy, buttery texture that you want. remember, it’s not being baked on the oven deck. it’s in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes, so it needs that fat to get crisp.” Gatto also says oiling the deep-dish pan is important. The pie cooks in a 400 to 450 F oven.
The popular Number ono build at Uno’s Chicago grill sees mozzarella topped with sausage, peppers, onion, mushrooms and pepperoni, then finished with a bit of mozzarella and romano. Another best-selling pie is the Chicago Classic, which features crumbled sausage, mozzarella and romano. “our pizzas are hand-craft- ed. we shred our own mozzarella. we do everything in the back of house,” says gatto.
Although classic pies still rule, Uno’s has innovated within the Chicago-style pizza category,featuring such pizzas as its Farmers Market Pie, which stars caramelized onion, spin- ach, sun-dried tomato, plum tomato, roasted eggplant, pesto, and a blend of feta, mozzarella and romano. And in October 2011, the chain rolled out a nine-grain deep-dish pizza crust as a more wholesome option for diners. “Deep dish crust is sacred,” says Gatto. “how do we make it better-for-you and still taste really good? we think we answered that with this crust.” The whole wheat/ brown-rice flour dough boasts: rye flakes, sunflower kernels, yellow- corn grits, barley flakes, flax seeds, soy grits, tritcale flakes, millet seed and oak flakes. it makes up 10 to 15 percent of pizza orders.
Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria boasts a rich tradition in Chicago, too. The first one opened in 1973 and it now has 34 throughout the Chicagoland area. “Authentic Chicago-style deep dish is meant to be a meal, not a snack. it’s almost like a casserole with all the flavors melding together,” says Jim D’Angelo, chief operating officer of Lou’s. “The crust has to be firm enough to hold everything, but flaky and crisp. And when we add meat to the pizza, it’s not dotted on the pizza. it’s a heavy amount of meat. Finally, the sauce has to be a chunky tomato sauce.” Lou’s offers both a regular crust and its signature buttercrust.™ “sausage is king in Chicago, but the Lou does really well, too,” he says. That vegetarian pie features fresh spinach, mushrooms, tomatoes and a blend of mozzarella, romano and cheddar.
Operational challenges shouldn’t be overlooked, he advises. “we’re in a microwave-minute kind of a world,” says D’Angelo. “The biggest challenge is getting your customer to understand that these pizzas take at least 30 minutes to bake. we try to train them to pre-order, so they’re only wait- ing 10 minutes instead of 30.” baking a pie for that long requires a level of artistry, says D’Angelo. indeed, working the oven is reserved only for experienced cooks at Lou’s. “The human element is a big part of Chicago-style pizzas,” he says. “you need to know when to rotate or move the pizza to get it to cook evenly and cook off some of the moisture from the ingredients.” Fresh vegetables on pizzas, which cook for a long time in the ovens, throw off a lot of moisture that needs to evaporate. “our oven guys need skill and experi- ence to know how to bake these so they turn out beautifully every time,” says D’Angelo.
Tony Manzella, owner of Tony’s Little italy in Placentia, California, includes Chicago-style pizza in his repertoire. in fact, Tony’s was located in Chicago back in the 70’s, but he transported the busi-ness to the west Coast, lured by sunnier weather. “i have customers who fly in from Chicago to get my Chicago-style pizza,” he says. “i’ve been making pizza since i was 14 years old. i take a lot of pride in my pizza.” The best-selling pie at this 27-seat shop is the Tony special, featuring sausage, green pepper, mush- room and onion. Toppings include the traditional pepperoni and mushrooms, but perhaps influenced by location, diners can also choose from artichokes, chicken and jalapeño. “The secret to authentic Chicago-style pizza is in the dough, in the sauce,” Manzella says.
“but i can’t give away my secrets.”
CHICAGO'S OTHER LEGACY: STUFFED PIZZA
Stuffed pizza is deep-dish pizza’s much younger sister. While deep-dish was invented in the 1940s, stuffed pizza made its debut in the early 1970s. Based loosely on the traditional Scarciedda, or Easter pie, made in Turin, Italy, it sports a flakier, milder crust than deep dish. It also stuffs even more cheese into the pan than a deep-dish pie and then adds a thin crust over the cheese, sandwiching it, essentially, then finishes with tomato sauce. Chicago stuffed pizza has its own loyal following, with locals debating over which stuffed pie reins supreme. Chicago contenders include Nancy’s Pizza, Giorda- no’s Famous Stuffed Pizza and Edwardo’s Natural Pizza.
Katie Ayoub is a frequent contributor to Pizza Today. she’s based in Naperville, Illinois.
Photo By Josh Keown
Amid Chicago’s pizza-loving populace, Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria stands tall. A frequent stop for Windy City inhabitants as well as visitors seeking Chicago’s famed deep-dish pizza, Malnati’s runs 34 stores across the Chicago area, most offering a mix of dine-in, carryout and delivery.
With such volume, Malnati’s touches thousands of pieces of consumer data each day, particularly credit card info, and safeguarding that data remains a top priority for Malnati’s brass.
“We know the restaurant industry is ripe for data theft and the ramifications of a breach can be enormous,” says Jordan von Kluck, Lou Malnati’s IT director for the last eight years. Data breaches remain an ever- increasing, ever-evolving issue for restaurants of all types. According to Trustwave’s 2012 Global Security Report, the food and beverage industry made up 44 percent of data breach investigations in 2011, the highest percentage of all industries.
While a potential breach can damage both brand reputation and consumer confidence, those penalties take a backseat to the potentially crippling financial consequences. “The credit card companies can make your life miserable if you get hacked,” says Avivah Litan, a fraud expert and analyst with Connecticut-based Gartner. “There are fines for noncompliance, the breach, charge-back fraud, and the credit card companies may even increase your interchange fees.”
John Pearson, director of data security and compliance for NCR Corporation’s hospitality division, says restaurants are frequent data theft targets for two reasons: Americans love to eat and love to pay with credit. “Combined with a low cost of entry and quick turnaround time to hard cash, the credit card fraud business has criminals constantly seeking a supply source of credit card data,” Pearson says.
While most pizzeria operators focus on serving high-quality pies alongside outstanding customer service, few possess the tech-savvy skills to ward off cybercrime. “Criminal hackers know this and target their tools to find restaurants with weak or no security measures in place,” Pearson says.
And the national names can be just as vulnerable as the independents. Trustwave’s report identified more than one-third of 2011 investigations occurred in a franchise business. To address the increasing array of data breaches, the credit card processing industry hosts a set of 12 requirements called the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS). Meeting PCI DSS is required for all who accept and process credit cards.
Assuming a restaurateur is using a validated PCI Payment Application (PA)-DSS POS solution, data theft most often happens one of three ways.
First, hackers snag data at the point of authorization, oftentimes without every visiting the restaurant. As all POS solutions must hold card data in memory just prior to sending an authorization to the processor, savvy criminal hackers can gain administrative rights to the system, frequently accomplished through the Internet connection, and access the POS system’s contents.
Hackers “look for weaknesses in remote access software, the operating system, (or) the lack of a properly configured firewall,” Pearson says.
Criminals might also install a device that steals cardholder data upon the swipe, called “skimming.” In some cases, the device might be a rogue look-alike; in others, the inspection seal might be broken or there may be an additional connector cable.
“Time and time again, these simple security basics are overlooked, which leads to compromise,” PCI Security Standards Council general manager Bob Russo says.
Finally, there’s the risk of old- fashioned data theft by dishonest employees. Some estimates hold that 20 percent of reported data breaches occur at the exchange of the credit card from customer to employee, a particularly contentious point at many dine-in eateries where the customer’s card can disappear from view for minutes at a time.
The best way to minimize data theft, security experts agree, is to follow PCI DSS guidelines, which include simple measures such as changing passwords on the applications and devices used to accept and process credit card payments every 90 days and regularly inspecting POS equipment. operators should alsoseek business partners and technology vendors present on the PCI Security Standards list.“ by doing so, you can keep this data safe from criminals and everyone can avoid the financial and reputational fallout that results from its compromise,” Russo says, adding that the PCI Council has a special Web site geared toward small businesses (www.pcisecuritystandards.org/smb/).
Additionally, operators should use PA-DSS validated software that is supported by the vendor; install a commercial grade hardware firewall that is actively managed and tightly controlled; and use secure remote access only when necessary.
“The best way to cut off a lot of threats is strong perimeter security,” says von Kluck, adding that Lou Malnati’s also purges old information on a systematic basis and educates staff on proper handling of credit card information to further minimize trouble. “PCI compliance is the starting point, but we’ll take the extra precautions to protect ourselves and our customers.”
Operators should also install and update antivirus software, remove unused software, disable unnecessary features, and limit activity on the POS and payments systems to business use alone. “Do these things first, then focus on PCI DSS and re-assess your approach annually to adjust to industry changes,” Pearson advises.
Protect the POS
Like any technology, POS systems continue evolving at a rapid pace, a reality that demands operators maintain and regularly update the POS system to both leverage its profit-building capabilities and protect consumer data.
“POS systems need to be re- viewed regularly to ensure they are operating at peak performance,” says security expert John Pearson. “As a gas stove may become a hazard due to a leak which develops over time, a POS system may become a hazard due to a defect or vulnerability which is discovered in the operating system or in a hardware component over time.”
Pearson calls POS security an “ongoing action” and urges operators to respect two rules:
maintain a relationship with the POS vendor and religiously follow their maintenance advice.
“Any business who does not properly secure their POS and network,” Pearson says, “might as well open their doors and hang
a neon sign to the world saying, ‘Rob me!’”
Chicago-based writer Daniel P. Smith has covered business issues and best practices for a variety of trade publications, newspapers, and magazines.
Photos By Rick Daugherty
Tony and Harry Disilvestro aren’t your typical beach town residents. their company, ynot Pizza & italian Cuisine, doesn’t cater to the hoards of tourists who fill Virginia beach during the warm months. they don’t cater to spring breakers, and they don’t feature portraits of sandy scenery on their walls. what they do bring to the proverbial table is a taste of home –– the Jersey shore, about a 20-minute drive outside of New York, where they spent their formative years spinning pies before transplanting to Virginia beach in the early 1990s.
“We started as kids, you know, 15 years old (and) making pizza,” tony says. “A friend of the family just kind of roped us in at a young age, and we’ve been doing it ever since. We’ve just run the gamut from there –– fine dining, italian restaurants, pizzerias …we’ve probably (worked in) 20 different pizzerias.”
When the time came to open their own, “at first, we thought we were going to open up and people were going to come to the counter and order,” Tony adds. “The first customer came in and sat down at the table, and all of a sudden we have waitress service.”
The company was founded by tony and his wife, Cindy. Harry Disilvestro later joined the couple in the venture, which has since evolved to five pizzerias in the region with sales expected at more than $9.5 million by the end of 2012. “Our demographic is families, obviously,” says Tony.
“That’s where we like to be.” still the most recent location opened on the campus of old Dominion University, so they’re able to target both students and neighborhoods. Dine-in accounts for 50 percent of sales, with delivery at 30 percent and carryout at about 20 percent.
YNOT’s menu started with pizza and pasta but has evolved to include appetizers, chopped salads, pasta creations, plated entrées like veal Parmigiana and mussels marinara, cold and hot subs, gluten-free pizzas (up
to 70 a week) wraps and desserts ––including house-made gelato.
“We’re just constantly making sure that the brand is fresh and new,” says tony. “That’s very important to us. we don’t sit still well.”
Harry is quick to add that “we never jeopardize quality. it’s always been to improve quality and service.” “I think the second you start sitting idle, you’re in trouble,” Tony adds, “especially in this changing industry that we’re in today.”
Pizza accounts for 40- to 50-percent of sales, and they make as much in- house as possible, including dough, sauces, lasagna and soups. “obviously, pizza is our no. 1 item,” Tony says, and while pepperoni is an obvious choice, the white pizza with spinach and tomato ($15.50 for a 14-inch and $18.50 for an 18-inch) is popular.
They added chopped salads, which lend a healthier option to their menu to keep up with customer demand. (the Cindy salad, a greek salad named after Tony’s wife, is a favorite.) the chopped salad menu offers 36 different options from which to choose, “and it’s just opened us up to a whole different market,” Tony says.
“We started looking at other chains and seeing what they were doing and their positioning towards, say, women and athletes and helping people try to be healthy. it was pretty obvious that being in the pizza industry, we didn’t have that appeal.”
Since pizza already encourages customization, adding that create-your-own element to both their salads and pastas has allowed them a greater market share. “It really comes down to (the fact that) the customer has many choices and they’re not just stuck to a menu,” harry says. “you can truly create your own meal.”
Ynot has impressive display cases in its stores that show off their desserts, which includes cakes, cookies and pastries sourced from New Jersey, New york and local bakeries. They used to make their own because “when we first opened down here, we didn’t have the availability,”Tony says. “So now, with distributors consolidating as much as they are, it’s much easier to bring in product from New York and New Jersey.”
Beer, wine and a full bar are available but make up only about 10 percent of sales. Much of that is craft beer. with 40 different offerings from which to choose, “it’s just a huge niche market for us,” Tony says.
“For years, you paired wine with food,” harry says. “now it’s getting to the point where our servers are actually savvy enough to start pairing beer with certain dishes.”
While making so much in-house is labor intensive, “Tony and I are out there every day trying to find the best prices that we can get for the best product out there that we can get,” Harry says. “and that’s a big part of our job every week.”
they use their POS system to keep track of labor and food costs “and we apply that to our everyday business not only with us but with our managers at weekly meetings –– knowing where their food cost is and where the labor cost is,” Harry says. “It’s a daily conversation at our restaurants.”
Harry says utilizing their Pos system is key to keeping track of rising costs and encourages other operators to learn how to best utilize their own equipment. “I do think there are a lot of people out there who do spend a lot of money (on POS systems) and don’t get a lot of bang for their buck.”
Ynot also has one manager for every 10 staff members, “and they really keep a close eye on their scheduling and overtime predictors,” Tony says.
Management is open with the company’s 260 employees, and shares those critical food and labor numbers with them to foster a sense of awareness and responsibility. “in the restaurant business, that day-to- day operation can be overwhelming to the point where you’re not taking the time to look at those numbers,” Harry says.
Cross-utilizing products, such as using some salad ingredients on pizzas and receiving deliveries twice a week, ensures freshness. “We try not to keep (product) more than three days on our shelves,” Tony says.
And when it comes to getting the word out about YNot, they don’t shy away from marketing, “which is huge for us,” Tony says. “We do a ton of social media, e-mail blasts, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest … If there’s something new out there, we’re trying it.”
“Probably about four years ago we realized we were doing the same thing year after year and how quick everything was changing,” adds harry. they dropped more traditional marketing avenues, such as the local telephone book, in favor of more dynamic opportunities and they hired an outside company to manage most of their media. still, word of mouth remains their best marketing outlet. as part of their brand awareness, they hold events with local college and sports teams, participate in the special olympics and charity walks and even host their own event, known as the Ynot Pizza olympics (contestants attend qualifying events similar to those at the world Pizza games at international Pizza expo at each store before competing at a local italian festival.) “that’s the kind of branding that we do,” Tony says. “we’re all about the community.”
E-mail blasts have been successful –– packed with videos from their events –– and online ordering adds $2 to $3 to each guest check. “retaining e-mail addresses is a huge part of our business,” Tony says.
The DiSilvestros own the majority of the stock in their restaurants, with three franchised by long-term employees. “expansion is coming from our employees. it’s coming from within,”tony says. “these people have been standing beside us for 60 hours a week for 19 years and when you put them in their own store, they know the business, and they know it well.”
Says Harry: “I think you always hear about owners who start multiple locations and spread themselves out too thin. with all of our other locations, there’s peace of mind knowing somebody’s doing the right job on the other side of town.” they’ve had locations with partners in the past but found it difficult to control brand consistency. Franchising with their own employees seems to work and a sixth location is under negotiation, but “we’ll never expand faster than our crew,” tony says. “Our expansion plans are just to continue growth and to control growth.”
The focus, say the Disilvestros, is quality over quantity, and they’re not out actively selling franchises just for the sake of expansion. “we could stop now if we wanted,” harry says, “but as long as these employees are coming up and they’re willing to march on with us, let’s do it.”
Mandy Detwiler is managing editor of Pizza Today.
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I’m looking for a really different and delicious ravioli recipe for the fall and winter. Can you help?
Of course we can, Jillian! Give this masterpiece from the Pizza Today test kitchen a whirl.
Sausage-stuffed Ravioli with Basil Cream sauce
3 tablespoons butter
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 basil leaves, chiffonade
1/2 tablespoon green chilies, chopped
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup Pecorino Romano cheese, grated
1 medium tomato, diced
2/3 cup Portabello mushrooms, sliced
Salt & pepper to taste
Warm pan to medium-high heat. add butter. Once melted, add onions, garlic & peppers. sauté until onion is translucent.
Add mushrooms, tomatoes and basil to pan; continue to sauté 1-2 minutes. add cream to pan. Bring to a simmer and hold for 2-3 minutes.
Add grated cheese, stirring to incorporate. add pasta and toss to coat. Cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly until pasta is warmed through. serve on heated plate and garnish with basil leaves.
TURNING LEMONS INTO LEMONADE
At ‘a Little Pizza Heaven’ we use a generic pizza box from our primary supplier. Recently, while folding boxes for the week I came across some completely blank, white boxes.
Well, I could have thrown them out. But what I did was write ‘Thank you from a Little Pizza Heaven’ on them and had the whole staff sign their names all over the box!! This way the customer gets a personalized thank you from aLL of us at once!
Just thought I’d share an idea with you.
Darryl Bartlett, owner
A Little Pizza Heaven
Darryl, kudos to you for your creativity! you turned lemons into lemonade. Nicely done.
Extra cheese. These two words were once the equivalent of hot fudge and a cherry on top of a banana split. It was the ultimate sign of decadence, escalating an already exciting situation to a higher level. But unlike bonus goodies atop an ice cream sundae, the meaning of gooey excess on pizza has faded for me. Am I maturing? Is my palate becoming more refined?
I think it has more to do with a growing appreciation for delicate flavor over a brutal assault on my taste buds and current trends in the pizza industry seem to agree. My changing habits reflect an overall shift in new pizza restaurants’ migrating focus from quantity to quality in their topping application.
I watch people eat pizza every day while leading tours of New York pizzerias and I’ll never get tired of their reaction when I feed them a simple pizza Margherita. The initial visual response is that there isn’t enough cheese. Bingo –– that’s exactly what I want them to say because the next comment is that they can taste the sauce more so than on other slices they’ve had. It quickly becomes clear that these two comments are related, as a limited hand with cheese allows for a stronger flavor impact by sauce. A thick blanket of shredded low-moisture cheese has a tendency to soak up the sauce content, rendering the two components indistinguishable, while a well-balanced pizza Margherita demonstrates the benefit of minimalism on the pizza’s surface.
Another common reaction comes from pizza that uses uncooked, unseasoned tomato in place of a stewed herb-y sauce. “It tastes so fresh, just like a tomato!” It’s a funny response to a sauce whose base component is usually forgotten amid a flurry of seasonings. After the Second World War, an increasingly crowded pizza marketplace coupled with a young domestic tomato industry influenced pizza makers to employ herb warfare in an effort to stand out from the noise. With pizza sauce volume at a fever pitch, the gentle timbre of a quality tomato has become a welcome repose for the weary palate.
It makes plenty of sense that pizzerias are turning to the “less is more” mentality. It’s an easy way to trim calories in an increasingly health-conscious world. Less cheese means less grease and your customers always notice that. But it’s not just about quantity; it’s also about quality. Plenty of pizzerias are keeping topping portions down to compensate for higher ingredient prices. I’m happy to get less on my pie if I’m trading in topping weight for a bump in the flavor department.
As dramatic as these trends may seem, we’re really just returning to the humble origins of pizza as a peasant food. In the early 19th century, overloading dough with meats and cheeses would have been out of financial reach for the dish’s main customer base. Somehow the minimal use of high quality ingredients is being interpreted as upscale, but the growth of wood- and coal-fired pizzerias across the country is evidence that people are welcoming the trend with open arms (and mouths).
Scott Wiener owns and operates Scott’s Pizza Tours in New York City.
Photos By Josh Keown
Your grand opening is the BIG BANG of your business. Your opening marketing must be explosive enough, setting in motion the creation of your business. This is a golden marketing opportunity. Do the work. Business is not a ‘Field of Dreams.’ You must draw people in and prove your merit.
Accomplish these Big Bang goals and your energy will keep on generating sales:
Create Top Of Mind Awareness (TOMA) and Word Of Mouth (WOM)
Good first impression. Food, Service, YOU
Differentiation. Feature signature items and capitalize on your uniqueness.
Database. Nosy neighbors, cherry-pickers and people in search of the best pizza at your fingertips – get their information
Step 1: The soft opening. Recipes perfected. Employees trained. Invite friends, family, community members for a free meal. Coach your staff to give the ultimate customer experience.
Step 2: Create TOMA and WOM. How? Several techniques need to be implemented. In this econ- omy a new business opening and creating jobs is newsworthy. A press release will tell the media how you are contributing to the community, without you paying for an ad.
Offer samples. A simple placard offering a free slice will draw crowds, getting them to taste what you know is the best pizza in town. ‘FREE’ will have people beckoning friends and family to do likewise. Samples generate the elusive WOM and TOMA.
A single piece direct mailer will impress. Target a weekly mailing of 1,000 or more menu mailers. A well designed menu mailer will showcase your unique products and set you apart from your com- petition. The menu should not include discount coupon strips. If you want to build a solid business don’t lay a foundation of coupon clippers. Stand behind your product by offering combinations featuring the quality and value of signature items.
Step 3: Every order gives you opportunity to obtain customer data. You now possess that price- less database. This is a crucial time to get customers hooked. Want to really impress people? Use your database to follow-up with a handwritten Thank You card. That will seal the deal. Do it within a two- week period to really make it effective and include a bounce back offer.
Step 4: ATR = Awareness, Trail, Repeat. People are bombarded by marketing messages. Once you have direct mailed a carrier route, send out a few drivers within 10 to 14 days to door-hang the same mes- sage/offer in the same area. Send an e-mail blast of that same message the next week. You need to make several impressions on the same people –– not just one impression on several people. Get your message ingrained and get results.
Step 5: Keep the Big Bang going and expand your universe. Once you have saturated an area with your message and gotten the maximum response move on to the next target area. Maintain the original customer base with postcard reminders, e-mails, box-toppers…or other low cost database marketing tactics.
Once established you won’t have to invest as heavily in marketing, but building marketing momentum takes energy. You have a lot invested in your pizzeria, your opening marketing is an investment where you should not scrimp and save.
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.
Founder/CEO Your Pie
Systems..... Everyone talks about them, but only a few truly develop them and then execute them well. If you want your restaurant to succeed, whether you operate one store or a large chain, you better start writing down and executing your systems. If you don’t have systems to write down, then it may already be too late.
I hear a lot of one store operators or GMs talk about how their shop just doesn’t run well without them there. They say it with a sense of pride, because in their mind, they are the only person in the world that could possibly run their restaurant. There is no way that the hourly employee they hired could possibly prep basil or close down the drawer like they can. Well, to me, that is the first sign that there are no consistently applied systems in place. Even worse, the owner or GM will never be able to leave the store without getting phone calls from employees, or worst yet, go on vacation and actually enjoy it.
I frequently joke with my team and franchise owners that a correctly run store is like the movie Groundhog Day with Bill Murray. He wakes up every day to the same alarm clock, sees the same events and people every day, and repeats this process day in and day out. Just like our friend Bill, we should come into the store and do the same things, the same way, at the same time. Sure, there are some curve balls thrown at us, like on a Friday night when the cooler goes down, but even those rare situations should have a system in place to manage and fix the problem.
For a time, Bill Murray despises the monotony of every day being repeated exactly as the day before. He goes through a stint where he kills himself in various ways in hopes that he doesn’t wake up to the same day again. Does this scenario sound familiar to anyone? Eventually though, he embraces the situation and, in fact, starts creating systems day in and day out at which he becomes really good. By the end of the movie, his whole day consists of him becoming the town hero and getting the girl of his dreams.
I know it is not easy, but it is imperative that we embrace and create this monotony in our industry. We must create systems that allow us to become the town hero to our team and to our customers. If you have systems in place that anyone can execute, you’ll likely find your presence less critical, allowing you some time away from the store, or better yet, the time to open another one.
I believe strongly that whether your business card says owner/operator/ dough thrower/accountant/prep king/ etc., that without your operations being systematically applied day in and day out, your restaurant’s health, as well as your own will deteriorate quickly. Say what you will about big box chains, good or bad, but the reason they are growing is that they have a system in place that an average person, in an average location can execute and make money doing it.
Building those systems and getting buy in for them is not an easy task, but you have to be the one to drive them. Do it for your employees. Do it for the success of your restaurant. Do it to be the town hero.
From cheese prices to new year strategies,
Big Dave has you covered
Pizzeria Lola is looking for a full time host. Could it be you--or that smart friend of yours? Send em our way: http:// bit.ly/Psgquk
Why it works: Twitter isn’t just for posting your lunch specials. Here’s a free Help Wanted ad that leads interested potential employees straight to Pizzeria Lola’s staff page, complete with its employment application, address and Google map. Social media is an economical –– and savvy –– way to look for new applicants with little effort.
Get 25% OFF b/c we <3 our new website!!! 1. Go 2 site
2. Click homepage coupon link to get yours 3. Come 2 SPIN! http://ow.ly/dWTbW
Why it works: SPIN!’s fans now know they have a spiffy new Web site, and they’re rewarding them just for clicking. Getting customers in the door –– and perhaps ordering an expensive drink or appetizer –– will increase check totals, even though the company offers a coupon. We’ll raise a glass to that!
Imo’s Pizza Wentzville Wacky Wednesday buy one get one free on all 16” X-Large pizzas 4-8pm. Call 636-639-1000 for pick up or have it delivered right to your doorstep.
Why it works: A two-for-one deal always catches the eye, and this one is no exception. Adding a timeframe to the offer creates a sense of urgency, and the all-important phone number gives customers what they need to order quickly and with little effort.
Cataldo’s Pizzeria RiverWalk LUNCH SPECIAL! Monday-Friday Large Slice of Pizza with one Topping AND Drink for $3.75!! A Chance to Win a One-Topping 20 inch PIZZA! “LIKE” this post or “check in” on your next visit to Cataldos Pizzeria RiverWalk! We will be randomly be selecting our winner Next Wednesday 9/26/12.
Why it works: This post packs a two-fold punch. We love lunch specials, and this lets customers know it’s available all week. Already got plans for today? That’s okay –– the special is still good tomorrow! Offering a freebie by liking the company’s post (or checking in while actually visiting it) helps them track who’s actually using the page and seeing the posts. Great job!
Photos By Josh Keown
Breadsticks equal big profits for pizzerias. They are cheap to produce with an almost endless supply of ingredients and are a perfect appetizer add-on to just about any menu item. Take it up a notch by stuffing them and really see them fly out the door. What can they be stuffed with? Just about every pizza topping you have in your kitchen!
I remember one of the best piz- zeria television ads I’ve ever seen that stuck with me all these years. It was a Little Caesars ad back in the ’90s. I’ll set the scene: There’s a 5-year-old little boy wearing his X-ray vision glasses, attempting to see through things. Now enters the scene a voluptuous woman with a
bag of pepperoni stuffed breadsticks clutched to her bosom. We see the little boy stop in his tracks, looking toward her chest with his X-ray glasses, and of course, our imagination brings us to all the wrong places until he utters these words: “Wow, you got a lot of pepperoni in your bread.” They sold tons!
Let’s get started with the basic bread- stick and progress from there. One of the easiest ways I made basic breadsticks in my pizzerias was to lightly flour a 12-ounce dough ball and pat it out, but not all the way as if I were making a pizza. I’d stretch it as close to a rectangle as I could. Using a pizza cutter, I cut the rectangle shaped dough into about 12 strips. I’d then place them on a pizza pan or screen leaving a little space between them, as they will rise slightly. They are ready to bake. If you have a conveyor, you want to start them in the middle of the oven. you want to make sure you have melted butter or liquid margarine (which most restaurants use), ready with a pastry brush so you can brush them as soon as they come out of the oven. They should only take a few minutes to bake.
Go ahead and brush them generously with the butter or margarine and then sprinkle them with a topping. Parmesan is a great start. adding some garlic and parsley really enhances them, creating a Parmesan garlic breadstick appetizer that’s hard to resist. Consider a powdered ranch sprinkle or even a cinnamon sugar sprinkle creating more of a dessert breadstick.
If you offer a variety of sprinklings for your breadsticks, you may want to have a separate container of the butter and separate brush for the cinnamon sugar breadsticks only because some how the garlic and Parmesan always seem to find their way into the butter blend. adding a cinnamon sugar sprinkle to a buttered bread- stick that has a little garlic in it would be a culinary clash that would be less than pleasant to any palate. I love garlic and cinnamon, but together? Not so good.
If you have mastered the basic bread- sticks, it’s time to go a little wild. There’s a couple of different ways to make stuffed breadsticks. The easiest way is to actually make a separate batch of dough adding different ingredients to the dough and then simply portioning the dough out into the same 12 ounce balls and preparing the breadsticks in the same manner that I have explained. years ago I was at a community event where there would be tasting of different restaurant food, with attendees voting for their favorite. I was so excited to win best bread against large chain Panera Bread. I called it Tuscan bread and these can perfectly be made into breadsticks.
Take a smaller batch of your pizza dough and mix into it some sun-dried tomatoes, fresh basil or a little pesto, some chopped garlic, chopped Kalamata olives and some Parmesan. (I think Feta would a perfect cheese alternative to the Parmesan.)
These are amazing by themselves, but would be great with a little olive oil blend with some roasted garlic cloves in it. Marinara would be another great sauce to dip these Tuscan breadsticks in. so you have the concept of mixing ingredients into your dough. Look at all of your pizza toppings and use them as your options for either mixing them into your dough or actually stuffing into the breadstick. some great options for either technique are:
- Sausage and peppers
- Sausage and pepperoni
- Pepperoni and black olive
- Spinach, pepperoni & black olive
- Vegetarian with mushrooms, peppers & onions
- Broccoli, ham & cheese
- Cordon Bleu with chicken, ham and swiss
- Steak & cheese breadsticks
When creating stuffed breadsticks, roll the dough out into a very long and nar- row strip about 6 inches wide as though it were a long and skinny calzone. evenly place your minimum amount of fillings in the middle of the dough. Fold the dough from the bottom to the top creating a long, skinny stuffed breadstick. With a pizza cutter or bench scraper, cut it into 6 to 8 sticks and bake them in your pizza oven for 3 to 4 minutes. Brush and sprinkle them in the same way and serve them with Marinara, Pesto, ranch dressing or buffalo dipping sauce.
The combinations can probably go on forever. That’s where you come in. Just be careful when actually mixing your fillings in with the dough. you want to chop or dice your fillings fairly small and don’t over mix the dough; otherwise, you won’t be able to identify the fillings. also don’t put too much soft meltable cheese as it will make a mess when baking. Parmesan and Feta are great choices for this technique.
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.
Photos By Josh Keown
“Just say, ‘Yes,’” is the advice veteran pizzeria operator Jeff Cohen lends to handling customer complaints. Cohen, who opened Pizza Loft in Davie, Florida in 1975, applies a giving mentality to his shop. In fact, when customers walk in, they pass by a prominent sign at the front door reading, “Customer service is what we do,” laying the groundwork for Pizza Loft’s hospitality.
Whether it’s dine-in, delivery or carryout, mistakes are inevitable. The laws of probability say that customer complaints are going to pop up every once in awhile. But, effectively handling those errors can turn unhappy guests into loyal patrons.
Cohen says he looks forward to complaints. “It’s the perfect opportunity to turn them into regulars, he says. When complaints come, “we own it. It’s our fault, even if it’s not.” In the cases where the customer mistakenly ordered something they didn’t want, Cohen says, “We go ahead and give it to them.” To help minimize wrong orders, Cohen trains servers and phone operators to read back the order again even after they have recited orders given. Even then, mishaps can occur.
When it’s wrong, Pizza Loft employees are trained to say, “I’m sorry.” They never make excuses, never argue. In addition to managers, servers and hostesses also are empowered to handle issues.“Employees can do whatever it takes to make a guest happy,” he says. “Even if it doesn’t call for something extra, we give something extra.”
Cohen believes in going beyond replacing a wrong item. his servers offer to wrap up the mistake for the customer to enjoy later or share with family or coworkers. also, while the party waits for a new item to be made, a complimentary low-cost food item such as garlic rolls is delivered to the table to mend the gap.
When the server feels the customer is not satisfied, Cohen asks that his staff seek him out right away. “Everyone likes to have interaction with the owner,” he says, expanding that sometimes an owner’s presence can calm the situation.
Mark Roppolo of Roppolo’s Pizzeria in Austin, Texas, is also easily accessible to handle grievances at his two Sicilian- style pizza locations. His restaurant operates a little differently from Pizza Loft. roppolo’s doesn’t have a wait staff and instead uses runners to deliver pizza throughout one location’s three- story dining area. runners and cashiers are instructed to call on managers to handle any complaint.
Of the 1,000 slices Roppolo serves on a Friday or Saturday night, Roppolo says three or four people might complain. The main beef at Roppolo’s comes from the crust. People may think it’s too dark or not dark enough and too crispy or not crispy enough. It’s a matter of preference and that’s an easy fix. Roppolo replaces the item and it’s off the check.
If a customer steps over the line
— Roppolo admits that it has only happened with intoxicated customers
— he has a firm policy of refunding the person and asking them to leave.
Roppolo and his managers use their best judgments to decide when a situation warrants that extra something such as a gift certificate to use at a future visit. he is hesitant to offer gift certificates if he believes the person is just looking for a deal. That’s why Roppolo says the extras are optional.
Restaurant consultant and industry analyst Aaron Allen says that is a common perception among restaurateurs. “Why not give a complainant a full free meal? There is this feeling that if we start doing that then everybody will complain so they can get something for free,” he says.
He encourages operators to look at the broader picture. Many operators spend thousands of dollars on advertising to acquire new customers, yet some resist comping meals and/ or providing a future meal to a person who complains.
replacing a pizza may not be enough, Allen warns. “Just recooking it doesn’t feel like compensation for that hassle,” he says. “how can you not just make it right but how can you make it a little better than what the customer expected?”
To compensate a complainant, Allen says, “I would encourage things that are bounce back — things that will
encourage them to come back another time.”
Whether it is you, a manager or an employee who handles a complaint, Allen offers recommendations when addressing a disgruntled customer:
- Listen first.
- Show empathy.
- Remain calm and positive.
- Maintain eye contact.
- Ask questions so they know you are listening.
Allen says that you should never correct a customer who is explaining a problem. “There is no victory in convincing the customer they are wrong,” he says. “have that customer feel that they were somehow healed — restored — through that process,” Allen says.
The last step is follow-up, Allen says. “have a record of who had voiced complaints and a program for bounce backs,” he says. “remember all feedback is good feedback.”
Perceptive wait staff and management have the power to head off complaints in some cases.
“One thing to watch is the sequence of service and how long it is taking between each step in the sequence,” says Aaron Allen, a restaurant consultant in Maitland, Florida. If one of those goes past the allotted time, he suggests it’s an occasion to step in and reassure the customer or even present menu samples. “If you can let some of that steam off before they hit that boiling point, they’ll patiently wait longer,” he adds. Take a moment to study your customers. “Changes in posture, tone and communications style can all be signals that there is something that might be going wrong,” he says.
“If they have a look of being con- fused or puzzled, that can be an indication to go over and to ask questions ahead of a complaint that might be on the way.”
Denise Greer is associate editor of Pizza Today.
What’s happening with America’s largest pizza companies? Who added stores in 2012? Who pushed their sales to record highs? Who dropped off a bit?
Last month, we published our list of the nation’s 100 most successful independent operations. Now, we present to you our yearly listing of America’s 100 largest pizza chains. Check out who’s winning big on pages 56 and 57.
1. Pizza Hut
The original Pizza Hut store opened in a small building in Wichita, Kansas in 1958. More than 50 years later, Pizza Hut is the largest pizza company with $11.2 billion in annual sales. The company operates more than 13,700 stores in more than 90 countries.
2. Domino’s Pizza
Ann Arbor, MI
Domino’s story began with the opening of its first store in 1960 called “DomiNick’s.” Five years later, the company was renamed Domino’s Pizza, Inc., opening its first franchise location in 1967. Today, Domino’s has nearly 10,000 locations worldwide and $6.9 billion in annual sales.
3. Papa John’s
After college, John Schnatter began delivering pizzas out of the back of his father’s tavern, opening his first Papa John’s in 1984. With more than 3,800 locations and nearly $2.6 billion in annual sales, Papa John’s has locations in all 50 states and 29 countries.
4. Little Caesars
The first Little Caesars opened its doors in 1959. By 1987, Little Caesars had become a national chain with stores in all 50 states. Today, the carry-out pizza chain who coined the phrase “Pizza, Pizza” for its two-for- one pizza deal, operates 3,500 locations with $1.45 billion.
5. California Pizza Kitchen
Los Angeles, CA
California Pizza Kitchen (CPK) originated in Beverly Hills in 1985, quickly expanding to 30 states and 11 countries. From 2000 to 2011, CPK was a publicly traded company, before being acquired by privately held Golden Gate Capital in 2011. CPK operates 270 locations with annual sales of $715 million.
6. Papa Murphy’s
The take ‘n’ bake concept began in Northern California in the early 1980s and has steadily moved east. Papa Murphy’s is the largest take ‘n’ bake chain with more than 1,300 locations in 40 states. The quick-serve restaurant generates $702 million in annual sales.
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