Photos by Pizza Today Staff
Few people in the pizza industry haven’t heard of International Pizza Expo, the three-day event that brings together vendors, operators and restaurant professionals. The show has changed over the years, and 2013 is no different –– with competitions, cash giveaways, business-boosting seminars and a show floor filled with products, there’s more to see and do than ever, says Bill Oakley, executive vice president for Macfadden Protech, parent company to Pizza Today and Pizza Expo.
“This year we’re pulling out all the stops to make sure International Pizza Expo 2013 is the biggest and best show ever,” Oakley adds. “In fact, I’m pleased to announce that this will be the largest show ever in our 29-year history, with nearly 1,000 booths of pizza-related goods, equipment and services.”
The show kicks off on Tuesday, March 19, when keynote speaker Robert Irvine, celebrity chef and host of Food Network’s “Restaurant: Impossible” television series, gives insight on restaurant makeovers that can improve operators’ bottom lines.
The keynote speaker for Wednesday, March 20, is Bill Jacobs, owner of Piece Brewery & Pizzeria, Pizza Today’s 2011 Independent Pizzeria of the Year. Jacobs, a Connecticut native, has made waves in the industry with his New Haven-style pizza, clever marketing and craft beer.
During all three days of the show, concurrent seminars and panel discussions will be held in two sessions (morning and afternoon) and will cover topics ranging from hiring and marketing to customer service and mobile marketing.
“The one thing that really separates International Pizza Expo from all of the other general foodservice shows is our educational component, which we are expanding this year,” Oakley says. “There’s not another food show around where you’ll find 85 plus seminars and demonstrations devoted to a single industry except International Pizza Expo. In fact, I like to think our pizza-focused seminars and demonstrations alone are worth the price of admission.”
The final day of the show has been designated “All-Operator Thursday” with presentations provided entirely by pizzeria operators. Previous Expo attendees have cited peer-topeer interactions as especially beneficial in improving their own businesses. The Beer & Bull Idea Sessions on Tuesday and Wednesday let operators ask questions and discuss the industry’s most pressing issues.
If it’s a title attendees are after, there are ample opportunities to rack up.
The International Pizza Challenge includes four categories this year: traditional (up to two toppings from an approved list with a red sauce base), non-traditional (anything goes), American-Pan (deep-dish) and Italian- Style. The competition is open to 60 contestants each in the traditional and non-traditional divisions, and 16 each in the Italian-Style and American-Pan. Contestants face off in regional heats, with finalists competing for the top prize of Pizza Maker of the Year.
The Best of the Best competition contest brings back four former titleholders to complete in a head-to head battle.
The popular World Pizza Games returns to Expo with a new category, the Pizza Triathlon. The competition combines box-folding, dough-tossing and stretching, with the winner named from combined scores in all three categories. Returning competitions include two divisions of freestyle acrobatics (masters and novice), largest dough stretch, fastest dough and fastest box folding. Trials will be held through the day on Tuesday and Wednesday, with finalists competing at the World Pizza Games Finals and Rockin’ Party, which is free to attendees and exhibitors, on Wednesday night.
Also new to Expo is the addition of a craft beer pavilion on the show floor. Attendees will be able to sample craft brews from some of the top U.S. breweries. Panel discussions will be held in two sessions on Wednesday to help operators add that ever-growing craft beer aspect to their businesses.
“Craft beer is booming right now,” says Bruce Allar, vice president of meetings and conferences for Pizza Expo. “The number of brewers and revenue (has increased). Pizza and beer is such a natural combination. There’s more artisan pizza out there, and (those) are a natural pair. We’re trying to show attendees their options for adding that component to attract new customers.”
Cooking demonstrations will be held throughout the three-day show and will cover topics ranging from creating Margherita pizza for the masses, catering dishes and wings to salads and Neapolitan, gluten-free and dessert offerings. These will take place in a special demo area on the show floor.
Pizza Expo will have more than 400 exhibitors and 1,000 booths displaying the industry’s latest innovations, business essentials and must-haves. The exhibit hall opens at 10 a.m. each day.
At the conclusion of the show, operators will have the chance to win a cash prize in the $20,000 MEGA BUCKS Giveaway. “Pizza Expo is a spectacular way for pizza operators to come together, learn what’s new in the industry, network, find new ways of addressing problems and search for new products,” adds Pete Lachapelle, president and publisher of Pizza Today/ Macfadden Protech. “The industry is on the verge of growing, and what better time to find new solution and opportunities than at Pizza Expo?”
New Operator Monday
Monday, March 18, has been designated as New Operator Monday. Free seminars that day are geared toward fledgling operators and first-time Pizza Expo attendees and explore topics especially relevant for those operators new to the industry, such as competing with large chains and menu moneymakers and are led by several of the industry’s top experts.
A Power Panel of several single-unit operators — all whose restaurants bring in $1 million-plus annually — will offer insight and trade secrets for success.
A meet-and-greet reception will also be held for New Operator Monday attendees.
Mandy Detwiler is Managing Editor of Pizza Today
Photo by Rick Daugherty
We make our dough fresh every day and get a fairly consistent result. However, every once in a while our dough will have a smooth/firm bottom crust instead of a “soft/dimpled” bottom crust — and I like the smooth result better. The smooth result happens very infrequently so it is hard to understand what causes it. Do you have any ideas or thoughts as to what might be causing this?
I’m at a little disadvantage here because I don’t know the steps you take when you put together a batch of dough. Pizza dough is a living organism. As such, it has a birth, maturity and death. These stages of life are controlled by time, temperature and fermentation rate. I believe the only way to control the many variables is to develop a process that will ensure consistency from batch to batch. I strive to remove all of the human variables possible.
Step 1. Weigh out your flour. 50-pound bags of flour rarely contain 50 pounds of flour. They have a tolerance that will allow the bags to be slightly over or underweight. Since they are filled mechanically on a fast moving line, it is not unusual to see 49- or 51-pound bags. The mills have to hit a pallet weight average to pass final weight tolerances. I am a big fan of a digital receiving scale. I like the models that have 150 pound capacity and weigh out in 2/10 of a pound increments.
Also, I only use flour that has been in my storage area at least two days. If I were to use flour right off the delivery truck, it would be 40 F. This cold flour would stunt the fermentation of the batch. I want flour that is around 60-70 F.
Step 2. Weigh the water and take its temperature. Volume metric measurement of liquids is not very accurate. I use the same scale I use for the flour. Then I adjust the faucet to deliver 70-75 F water. The temperature of the water is important because it controls the core temp of the batch. If you use 70 F flour and 75 F water and mix for 9-10 minutes, the core temp will always be 80 F. Friction heat usually imparts 5-10 F of warmth to the batch. I always take the temperature of the whole blob of dough on the prep table before I start to cut and weigh dough balls.
Step 3. Weigh out your dry ingredients. The salt, sugar, yeast and any other dry ingredients need to be weighed out even more precisely. I like to use a 0-32 ounce dial, platform scale with a no bounce feature. The only missing ingredient is vegetable/olive oil. This can be measured in plastic measuring cups or weighed out to the ounce, which leaves no room for error.
Step 4. Set a timer so you mix every batch for the same length of time.
Step 5. When the dough is born (comes from the mixing bowl to the table), take the core temp and don’t tarry in cutting, rounding and refrigerating the dough. As it sits on the table it is rising (fermenting), and hustle is the name of the game. Don’t ruin a batch by ignoring it for half an hour, especially on a hot summer day. I hope I have shed a light on why your dough is not totally consistent.
Big Dave Ostrander owned a highly successful independent pizzeria before becoming a consultant, speaker and internationally sought-aftertrainer. He is a monthly contributor to Pizza Today.
Photo by Rick Daugherty
When the New England Patriots and New York Giants faced off in last year’s Super Bowl, it marked the biggest event of the NFL season. But for pizza purveyors, it wasn’t just a big sports day: American appetites for football and food make Super Bowl Sunday a major moneymaker.
Nearly 50 million Americans ordered takeout during the Giants-Patriots Super Bowl; 60 percent of those orders were for pizza, and another 22 percent were for chicken wings. For restaurant owners, it makes sense to market to customers already thinking about calling in for some Super Bowl pizza and wings, right? Not so fast, says Shelly Paioff, an advertising and intellectual property attorney with the New York-based firm Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz PC.
“Official sponsors pay big money to be able to use the names of trademarked events like ‘Super Bowl,’ ” Paioff says. In legal circles, associating your name (or your company’s name) with events or teams without paying sponsorship fees is called ambush marketing. And for official sponsors, as well as trademark owners, it’s a big deal. “When people who haven’t paid for sponsorships begin to use those terms, it leads to erosion of the value of the sponsorship.”
That’s right — the term “Super Bowl” isn’t free to use. For that matter, neither is “March Madness,” “Olympics” or “World Series.” Don’t think about using a professional team name in your advertising either, Paioff says. “Some restaurants may do a ‘congratulations’ ad with their team’s name, thinking that’s okay,” she explains. “But it’s still using the name without permission, and if a trademark owner really wanted to, they could take legal action.”
In the real world, of course, some restaurants use ambush marketing without legal repercussions. While that can be frustrating for competitors who respect sponsorships and copyrights, those businesses are really rolling the legal dice, says Roberta Jacobs-Meadway, partner and intellectual property attorney at the Eckert Seamans law firm in Philadelphia. “The practical issue is whether it is worth the promotional benefit to risk a cease and desist letter or other claim by the rights owner for the event,” Jacobs- Meadway says. “Some rights holders are more aggressive than others.”
One way to navigate the legal minefield is to be less direct about using the event tie-ins. If you want to advertise with the Super Bowl in mind, for example, you could use the term “big game” or “championship,” explains Paioff. “While it is still risky, it’s less risky than directly referencing the event by name.”
Sometimes you can even find trademark trouble where you would never expect it. “Restaurants selling hoagies…have received cease and desist letters from the holder of the SUBWAY marks for using ‘footlong’ to identify sandwiches that are about a foot long, as opposed to six inches,” Jacobs-Meadway says. Awareness of terms, slogans and phrases that other businesses use and promote heavily can help restaurant owners avoid these problems, but “the better practice may be to be aware of what terms are being heavily promoted and to do at least a search of the U.S. Trademark Office database,” she explains.
Of course, trademarks aren’t the only copyright concerns restaurant owners need to keep in mind when developing advertising: music and photography copyright claims are not uncommon. “Simply because a photo or a sound clip is readily available on the Internet does not mean that it is available for use,” Jacobs-Meadway says.
Just going online and picking a photo off a Web site cannot get anyone in legal hot water, but when you’re planning to use it for advertising and other commercial purposes, getting sued can mean a major money hit. Stock photo sites that allow you to download use licenses for a nominal fee, such as i stockphoto.com, are a good option in situations where restaurant owners can’t generate their own art or photography. The images aren’t free, but they’re a whole lot cheaper than a copyright lawsuit, Paioff says. Her one caveat: “If there are people in the images, make sure you get image releases from the stock photo sites.”
If the worst does happen and you wind up in legal trouble thanks to intellectual property disputes, the first thing you should do is take down or otherwise cease the advertising in question. “When you’re in legal trouble, of course, seek your lawyer’s advice,” Paioff says. “But in the meantime, remove the offending advertising.” If you do end up in court, the quick action may help your case… and sometimes just discontinuing use of the trademark or logo may be enough to satisfy the copyright holder. The best idea, however, is to tread carefully in copyright and trademark territory in the first place.
Advertising Safely... Not Blandly
When restaurant owners are looking to make sporting and other big-name events translate into sales, they don’t need to piggyback official terms and logos for effective, targeted ads, says Chais Meyer, a Kearney, Nebraska-based business consultant.
“It’s smarter to advertise to individuals and fans on an emotional level,” Meyer says. So instead of just naming the event, think about the characteristics of the people who are going to be interested in the event. “Once you know the real reasons a sports fan would want to watch a sporting event, the name (of the event) really isn’t important at all.”
Meyer uses the example of “March Madness.” Instead of using that term, which official sponsors pay to use, restaurants might try a different, more personal approach. His suggestion: “March is almost here and basketball lovers of all kinds will be meeting at (restaurant name) every weeknight from now until the end of the month. Feast on great beer and pizza combos for under $10 during the entire month of March! Basketball lovers unite!”
Basketball fans who might have been looking for somewhere to watch games will immediately understand what the ad is referring to, he says. And because the ad creates a sense of community, it can be even more appealing without the well-known term, giving potential customers the sense the marketer “gets” them and their motivations and interests. “Focus on the ‘why we do what we do,’ ” Meyer says. Doing so will help you hone the perfect recipe for spicing up seasonal ads without walking a legal tightrope.
Alyson McNutt English is an award winning freelance writer specializing in home, health, family, and green topics. She is based in Huntsville, Alabama.
Photos by Josh Keown
Years ago, architect Jim Lencioni recalls being called into a casual restaurant concept based in the Southeast. Despite solid marks for its food, business continued falling.
In surveying guests, Lencioni soon discovered that diners preferred carryout because they were so uncomfortable in the dining room, one emblazoned with large photos of pigs over red and blue walls.
“The interior was actually so bad it was driving people away,” remembers Lencioni, head of Aria Group Architects in Oak Park, Illinois.
Lencioni’s tale remains a cautionary one for pizzeria operators. As good as the pepperoni pie might be, front-ofthe- house design problems can easily derail a shop’s prospects.
Visuals, after all, are important, confirms Howard Ellman of Dynamic Designs, a Michigan-based design firm that specializes in hospitality.
“If the restaurant is uninspiring to the eyes, it doesn’t necessarily build confidence in the food,” Ellman says.
Veteran restaurant designers identify the five most common frontof- the-house design missteps and offer solutions.
Design problem No. 1: light. Though lighting can be the most impactful element in a restaurant, it’s too often overlooked.
Some restaurants are too bright and others too dim. Some host uneven lighting, while lighting in others is so consistent it lacks drama.
Lencioni’s advice: “Like the stage in a theater, light up anything you want to control the view of, such as your wine collection or artwork.”
Vision 360 Design CEO Brad Belletto adds that lighting temperature can change the way food looks on the table. Softer light, for instance, can make food look warm and refreshing.
“The perfect color temperature for most restaurants is going to be in the 2800-3200 kelvin range,” Belletto says, adding that temperature information will be available on light bulb packaging.
And know who you are, Lencioni concludes. McDonald’s long kept its surfaces hard and lighting bright to encourage rotation. In contrast, dimmer lighting can persuade people to linger and promote wine or alcohol sales.
Design Problem No. 2: sound. In many casual and quick-service restaurant environments, hard surfaces, high ceilings and rectangular spaces can be the norm. Enter acoustic problems. “You want a particular amount of energy in the space, but it cannot be bothersome,” Lencioni says. “You need to provide some acoustic control.” Lencioni suggests creating “zones of energy.” For instance, the bar area might be more lively, which would make harder surfaces more acceptable. In the dining room, turn to softer materials, such as booths, or angled walls to absorb sound. “There can still be noise in the dining room, but it needs to be controlled enough that people can feel comfortable,” he says.
Design problem No. 3: age. In many cases, age can be a positive for a pizzeria, as longevity can inspire confidence. In the dining room, however, age can be a detriment, particularly when it manifests itself in front of guests in the form of ripped booth upholstery, wearing tabletops, or outdated signage.
“Look at what your diners see and feel when they walk into the space,” Ellman says. “If it’s disorganized, in disrepair, or designed for another era, consider a change.”
Ellman says restaurants should update every five to seven years, a process that need not break the bank. Fresh paint is economical and can do wonders to enliven a dining room, while booth seating can be refreshed for a nominal investment in fabric.
“Provide customers a sense of place that shows you care about their experience and what you serve,” Ellman says.
Design problem No. 4: impractical. Too often, designers agree, operators ignore design common sense. Ellman recalls one restaurant with an S-shaped dining counter looking into an exhibition kitchen. While Ellman considers exhibition kitchens wonderful options for some pizzerias –– “Seeing your pizza made and be appetizing and entertaining,” he says –– the jogging counter limited seating capacity.
Similarly, Belletto recalls one restaurant installing a curved wall in its dining room. While the wall’s presence added design punch, it served no practical purpose. In fact, it actually made it difficult for some guests to exit tables and shortchanged seating capacity.
“Whatever you do, it’s important to balance out practicality and functionality with the design,” Belletto says, also suggesting that restaurants have various seating types to provide drama as well as operational versatility.
Design problem 5: overspending. In designing a restaurant, it can be easy to fall in love with high-end finishes or distinctive design elements. That’s an all-too-common mistake.
“Operators can get easily fixated on something they saw elsewhere and insist on it in their restaurant,” Belletto says. “They’ll buy expensive scraped wood flooring when vinyl plank flooring with a wood simulation would be half the cost and a quarter of the maintenance.”
Belletto cites numerous restaurateurs obsessed with silver table bases.
“But who even sees these? If you’re going to spend money, spend where people will notice it,” he advises.
Operators should match their design choices to both the character of the establishment and its profitability.
“You’re going to struggle to pay for that granite countertop in a place that serves $9.99 pizzas all day,” Belletto says. “Know how much profit you can make on the product and then you won’t need to invest in interior finishes beyond the scope of your profitability.”
Chicago-based writer Daniel P. Smith has covered business issues and best practices for a variety of trade publications, newspapers, and magazines.
Photo by Rick Daugherty
There are a lot of things I admire about Tony Gemignani, the World Champion pizza maker from Tony’s Pizza Napoletana in San Francisco. He’s an astute business man and a brilliant marketer, but he remains a true artisan first and foremost. Walk into his pizzeria and you’ll see the phrase “Respect the Craft” on his boxes and on his workers’ shirts. It’s the mantra by which he lives — and it has served him well.
So when we kicked off 2013 last month by introducing a new Q&A column that features Tony’s expertise, I couldn’t think of a column title any more fitting than “Respecting the Craft.” As someone whose livelihood is directly linked to the quality of your pizza, dear loyal reader, you owe it to yourself, your business and your customers to respect your craft to the fullest.
That is exactly what we do time and again at International Pizza Expo. After breaking attendance records last year, the show’s growth remains on an upward slant. In fact, our preregistration information hints at yet another record breaker in 2013. We’re excited beyond belief about producing what will truly be the most remarkable trade show in this industry’s history. So do yourself a favor by respecting your craft at this year’s Expo, where you’ll learn new ideas and get the opportunity to soak up the knowledge of Tony and others just like him.
You’ll also have the chance to respect another kind of craft — the wildly popular craft beer segment. The Craft Beer Pavilion at International Pizza Expo will allow show attendees to sample high-quality beers that make perfect complements to pizza. We’ve seen enough evidence on craft beer’s appeal to know that it should be an integral part of the pizza industry going forward. So we’re happy to bring you face to face with this trend.
Every year at the show, I’m overwhelmed by the number of people who want to shake hands, say hello and share a pizza story with me. It’s an intense — and hugely rewarding — three days. I see old friends and make new ones at every show. If you’re an old friend, I can’t wait to give you a hug and catch up next month. If you’re new to the biz, I want to meet you and learn about your shop. Together, let’s make International Pizza Expo 2013 yet another memorable event.
Jeremy White, Editor in Chief
The union of small batch beer and wood-fired pizza just seemed to be a natural fit. Think about it, the artisanal components of each craft go hand-in-hand, pizza — flour, water, salt and yeast; beer — malted barley, water, hops and yeast. Both crafts take a great deal of patience and integrity. Ultimately, it’s about our guests enjoying time honored and very locally produced food and drink… a brewery and pizzeria fit the cause.
I left my day job in finance just over three years ago to pursue this project. It took a great deal of time to get confident enough to pull the trigger. I’ve had two wonderful mentors, Tom and Sandy Hennessey from Colorado Boy Pub and Brewery, in Ridgway, Colorado. They were the push to get this place up and running.
Although our brewery is small (7 Barrel System), it was a significant investment –– well over the cost of the restaurant side of the business. The ability to brew small batches keeps our menu fresh and rotational. We get direct feedback from our customers, letting us know what beers they enjoy. In turn, we can brew crowd favorites in a matter of a few weeks. Our customers definitely play a big role in the direction our beer takes.
I think food pairings are very specific to one’s palate. In general terms, India Pale Ales are well received with spicy foods like our spicy fennel sausage, whereas our more delicate American-style Kolsch beer is delicious with our pesto pizza.
Beer-to-go in growlers is a big thing for us… you can’t get much fresher beer than a fresh-from the- tap poured growler. Most of our customers either grab a pizza with the beer to go, or enjoy a pint at the bar while their growler is being poured.
So far, (marketing efforts have) been mainly social media. It’s amazing the power social media posts can have if (they are) meaningful and relevant…. especially, word-of-mouth from our happy and excited customers. Also, craft beer lovers will take extraordinary steps to track down a local brewery, which in turn is fantastic for our pizza oven!
Short-term plans revolve around brewing many different beers and keeping up with our patrons’ demand at the pub level. Once we have our brewing production schedule dialed in, we’d love to see our beer on tap at specialty beer bars and other local venues focusing on craft beer.
Photos by Josh Keown
Q: What are the advantages to showing a dough recipe/formula in baker’s percent?
A: The advantages are that it allows you to determine, at a glance, if the dough is in correct balance. It also allows you to manipulate the size of a dough recipe with 100-percent certainty that all of the ingredients are used at the correct amount. Lastly, if you are managing your dough ball inventory against a fixed quantity, it means that you can easily determine exactly how much flour will be needed to make a dough batch of any specific size. Here are some examples of what I mean for each of these.
It can be difficult to determine if 3 cups of salt is the correct amount to use for a dough that is based on 25 pounds of flour weight … but if you change this to baker’s percent by dividing the ingredient weight by the total flour weight and multiply by 100, you will readily see that 3 cups of salt (28.8 ounces, or 1.8 pounds) is 7.2 percent of the total flour weight, which is way too much salt considering that the normal level of salt might be around 2 percent and the maximum around 3 percent. As for manipulating the size of a dough batch using baker’s percent, this is also very easy. For example, here is a typical pizza dough formula shown in baker’s percent:
Flour: 100 percent
Salt: 1.75 percent
Sugar: 1.5 percent
Instant dry yeast: 0.375 percent
Olive oil: 2 percent
Water: 58 percent
If you want to base the dough size on 40 pounds of flour, just plug in 40 pounds (or 640 ounces) next to the flour since the total flour weight is always equal to 100 percent. To find the amount of each ingredient needed to complete the dough, use your calculator and enter the weight of the flour, then press “x” and enter the percent of the ingredient that you want the weight for followed by the “%” key.
This is what the entries will look like. Salt: 640 x 1.75 (press the “%” key) and read 11.2 ounces in the display window.
Sugar: 640 x 1.5 (press the “%” key) and read 9.6 ounces in the display window.
Instant dry yeast: 640 x 0.375 (press the “%” key) and read 2.4 ounces in the display window.
Olive oil: 640 x 2 (press the “%” key) and read 12.8 ounces in the display window.
Water: 25 x 58 (press the “%” key) and read 14.5 pounds in the display window.
Your total dough weight, based on 40 pounds of flour will be 65.45 pounds.
Note: For most of the smaller ingredients it will be easier to show the flour weight in ounces, while larger ingredients, like the water, are best am manufacturing calculated with the flour weight shown in pounds. Remember, the calculated weight of the ingredient will always be in the same weight unit that the flour is shown in.
Baker’s percent can also be used to help manage your dough ball inventory. This is done either through dough ball projections or a fixed dough ball inventory that you will need to rebuild daily. In either case you will need to calculate how much dough will be needed to make a specific number of dough balls.
As an example, let’s say you need to make 55 dough balls at 17 ounces each and 107 dough balls at 14 ounces each. To make these, you will need a total of (55 x 17 + 107 x 14 = 2,433 ounces — or 152 pounds –– of dough). If you take the sum of the baker’s percent in your dough formula and divide it by 100, you will have a factor that you can use to determine how much flour you will need to use to make this number of dough balls. Using the above sample dough formula, the sum of the baker’s percent is 163.625. When divided by 100 it becomes 1.63625. All we need to do now is to divide the total dough weight by 1.63625 and we get 92.895 pounds of flour that will be needed to make the dough balls. Now all you need to do is to divide 92.895 by the pounds of flour you use to make a dough and you will know how many doughs you will need to make.
Using our above example dough formula, let’s say you use 40 pounds of flour to make your doughs: 92.895 divided by 40 = 2.32 batches of dough needed to make this number of dough balls. Here is where the real fun begins. So we don’t have any surplus of dough balls beyond what we need to rebuild the inventory, we can make two full size batches and one that is 3/10ths of our regular size. Here is how we make that 3/10ths size dough:
Multiply the full size dough weight by 0.3 to find the new dough weight (0.3 x 65.45 = 19.635 pounds of dough). Remember, by dividing the dough weight by the total baker’s percent divided by 100 we can find the flour weight needed to make this dough (begin by rounding the dough weight off to the next nearest pound — 20 pounds). 20 pounds divided by 1.63625 = 12.22 pounds of flour will be needed to make the dough.
It is suggested that the flour weight be rounded to the next nearest pound to allow for any dough loss resulting from scaling error when portioning the dough for the dough balls. With a flour weight of 13-pounds, again using the above dough formula the amounts of ingredients needed to make the dough will be as follows:
Flour: 100 percent = 13 pounds/208 ounces.
Salt: 1.75 percent = (208 ounces x 1.75 press the “%” key) and read 3.64-ounces.
Sugar: 1.5 percent = (208 ounces x 1.5 press the “%” key) and read 3.12 ounces.
Instant dry yeast: 0.375 percent (208 ounces x 0.375 press the “%” key) and read 0.78 ounce.
Olive oil: 2 percent (208 ounces x 2 press the “%” key) and read 4.16 ounces.
Water: 58 percent (13 pounds x 58 press the “%” key) and read 7.54 pounds
Adding up the weights of the ingredients we get a total calculated dough weight of 21.27 pounds (very close to our targeted 20 pounds). Ain’t math great?
Tom Lehmann is a director at the American Institute of Baking in Manhattan, Kansas.
Photos by Josh Keown
I was traveling the interstate close to midnight when I stopped by a restaurant still open in the small community of Canyonville, Oregon. My 18-year-old waiter, Kyle, graduated last year from his small high school in a senior class of 12 students. He was not the best in the technical aspects of formal tableside dining service, but he was a joy as my service provider.
His entire demeanor broadcasted a “How can I possibly help you?” vibe. His animated service and genuine sense of hospitality was a breath of fresh air in comparison to all the other businesses I typically encounter. The way he made me feel important made up for any service faux pas that otherwise might have distracted me from the visit.
The current culture is comprised of a young labor pool that’s more comfortable communicating with staccato text messages or e-mails using a language only their peers understand.
As a food service operator, the challenge is finding staff that has the proper soft skills to engage customers face-to-face in a professional and businesslike manner but still maintain their individuality as a person.
Soft skills, also referred to as emotional intelligence skills, are the skills that enable effective listening. They are skills that enable a person to handle themselves at work and relate with their customers and peers.
Let’s take a look at Oregon’s “Q Care” Customer Service Training Program (www.OregonQCare.com). It was developed by a state agency, Travel Oregon, to elevate the customer service awareness and skills for the travel tourism businesses in the state. It defined three primary customer service needs as the foundation for understanding what consumers want and expect from their service providers:
Understand me: Different types of visitors and recognizing their different needs
Respect me: Specific attitudes and actions that show customers are highly valued
Help me: Service skills that deliver and make your business’s hospitality a reality
In line with this concept, young restaurant staffers typically lack the life experience to bring these skills to the work environment. They are skills that cannot be learned reading a manual and are best taught with on-the-jobtraining, role-play and mentoring.
One critical aspect of customer service is the difference between delivering service and initiating service. Delivering service is the ritual and mechanics (i.e. “serve plates on the left; remove from the right”). Initiating service is delivering service without being prompted by the usual ritual or mechanics. The service commences without request.
Refill Optimum moment after a refill is when the drink is half empty
For example, staff might not greet a customer until the customer has read the menu, made a decision and then approached the counter to place their order. Initiating service is greeting the customer with eye contact, a smile and “May I help you?” as customers enter the door. That holds significantly higher customer service value because the staff initiates the welcome and hospitality rather than it occurring only by the prompt of the customer. That elevated perceived value of your company is a leg-up on the competition.
Dessert Always provide the opportunity for the customer to consider dessert.
Don’t forget the importance of the employee’s game face. One typically visualizes the professional athlete portrayed in the sports drink commercials –– strong, fierce and intimidating –– but that is not acceptable in the hospitality business. The proper game face in food service is engaged eye contact and a smile.
Engaged eye contact is the visual skill of letting your customer know you are listening to them and are providing them the attention they seek. The smile is the international signal of friendliness and being of no threat. It is also an invitation to service. These gestures display a message: I see you, I work here, I can assist you, ask me, etc.
Studies have shown that the one facial expression that can be recognized at the farthest distance is the smile, which is how critical it is as a soft skill. What is most interesting is the fact that these displays are mirrored by customers. Engaged eye contact combined with a smile sets the tone for a positive start in a business transaction. Think of how the smile is displayed, often almost unconsciously, when engaging others (especially when meeting new people).
Another area of contention for the service side of dining is what is known as the critical moments of service. There are five critical moments of service that can be the tipping point in the ritual of dining that leaves customers February with either a favorable or unfavorable impression of their service experience and your business. They are the moments that transition to the next dining service step; and, if missed, they can cause a high level of distress for the customer. What is important is that the service staff knows the five critical moments of service and understands that urgent action is required to prevent and/or remedy the situation. Here are the five critical moments of service:
1. Greeting. Customers must be greeted/ acknowledged within one minute.
2. Refill of beverage. Optimum moment to offer a refill is when the drink is half-empty.
3. Next course. Closely monitor the time between when the customer finishes a course and is anticipating the arrival of the next.
4. Dessert. Always provide the opportunity for the customer to consider dessert.
5. The check. This is as urgently important as the greeting! When customers are ready to leave, they want to leave now. Delays in presenting and processing their payment can ruin their memory of all the good service experiences provided before this one critical moment of service.
Coach your staff on your service standards, these soft skills and the importance of positive service-sales execution. Best results are achieved with roleplaying in the on-the-job environment. Without educating your staff, they are left with the only remaining emotion to conduct business on your behalf –– panic. Panic is what we feel in that moment of not being able to perform our jobs, regardless of the level of effort.
Educate your staff on their role in branding your company to sustain continued and future opportunity for themselves, the company and every team member in your organization. Make it personal.
From the consumers’ perspective, each employee they engage and how they make them feel, no matter how slight the encounter, is the face of your company. The continuing service challenge is to create a memorable dining experience for your customers and working experience for your employees. The standard should be one of seeking service opportunities to acknowledge, assist, guide and serve your customers and each other. The goal for each employee is to make their customers and teammates feel welcomed, safe and secure as they perform their role with your company. The prize is a successful business that provides good jobs, great career choices and sustains the economies of the communities in which we serve and live.
As I learned long ago from my mentor, Bob Farrell of Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlors: In today’s economy, service is the deal breaker. And to my new friend, Kyle, of Canyonville, Oregon … I’ll be back!
Paul C. Paz is the founder of Waiter’s World.
The one thing that really separates International Pizza Expo™ from all of the other general foodservice shows is our education component. There’s not another food show around where you’ll find 85 seminars and demonstrations devoted to a single industry.
At Pizza Expo, you’ll find the leading industry experts and analysts, as well as nationally recognized business and marketing consultants, who are all willing to share new ideas and insights on how to adapt to an ever-changing economy and industry. This year, you’ll find new speakers and new topics — covering concerns that range from a rapidly changing commodities market to the latest trends affecting pizzerias, from financing to how and when to react to supplier price increases. And much more.
Here are just a few of the new speakers and topics we have planned for this year’s Expo:
Human resources expert and trainer Roberta Matuson will tell you how to identify the keys to connect with today’s most influential consumers, Gen Y. Make plan to attend her Gen Y Strategies for Business Growth seminar. Restaurant consultant Aaron Allen has engineered numerous successful concept and design makeovers for both independent and chain operations. Find out how to pull off an on-budget and on-time makeover. Did you know that nearly 40 percent of adults living with children say their kids influence where they decide to eat pizza? Dan Collier, a former area supervisor with Rusty’s Pizza and now owner of four PizzaMan Dan’s in Southern California, has been on the front lines of community-based marketing — from door hangers to Facebook campaigns, and everything in between. He’ll focus on what’s most effective for reaching children, giving you some take-away strategies that help you connect with future loyal customers. Show favorites Big Dave Ostrander, Bill Marvin, Tony Gemignani, Glenn Cybulski, Michael Shepherd and Tom Lehmann will also be there with fresh topics and ways to build and improve your business.
This year, we’re expanding our “New Operator Monday” education program that we’ve specifically designed for the new operator and first-time attendee. If you’re new to Pizza Expo, don’t miss these seminars and workshops designed to jump-start your pizzeria. The best news is this 5½-hour education program is free to registered attendees.
We’re also excited about our new Craft Beer Pavilion featuring samples from some of the top U.S. craft breweries. In fact, we’re so excited about this segment that we’ve put together two great panel discussions on this very topic. Our first panel — with the co-founders of Stone and Schlafly breweries seated with two beer-savvy pizza operators — will outline strategies and take your questions on the subject of building a profitable craft beer program. And the second panel will let you know how to succeed by brewing your own beer with a pizzeria brewpub.
I like to think our pizza-focused seminars and demonstrations alone are worth the price of admission. In fact, if you don’t come away from International Pizza Expo™ with new cost-saving or profit-boosting ideas, I’ll refund your registration fee. All you have to do is put it writing to me and I’ll send you a prompt refund. What other shows give you a money-back guarantee? I’ll tell you, none!
The bottom line is there will always be winners and losers, but only those pizzeria owners and operators who arm themselves with industry knowledge and are willing to take action toward positive change will have the ability to position their businesses for future growth and success. If you want to increase your ability to compete and win, you should make plans now to attend International Pizza Expo™, March 19 -21, 2013.
It’s all pizza and it’s all for YOU!
Photo by Josh Keown
The recession had just hit and Lisa Towne was searching for ways to improve her restaurant’s cash flow. Towne, owner of Mama Lisa’s Little Italy in Castle Rock, Colorado, registered with her state’s Web site that listed government jobs and saw an opportunity to bid on providing school lunches. “I decided to go for it,” says Towne. “The process was incredibly time consuming; the bid document was 62 pages long.”
Most of the paperwork was focused on nutrition. Towne had to provide a complete nutritional analysis of every product she proposed supplying to the schools. She also had to create a HACCP booklet (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) and undergo several inspections. Her first bid attempt failed. She tried again in 2008 and won the contract.
Towne initially serviced eight schools –– four every day and four on Thursdays only. But as the economy constricted, more students began brown-bagging it and the schools started baking pizzas on-site to reduce costs. She’s currently providing 130 pizzas every Thursday to four charter schools. Towne recently cut ties with a fifth school to which she had provided lunches daily, developing a total turnkey operation. When the PTA began dramatically reducing the scope of work (for example purchasing many of the supplies at Costco) it became unprofitable to continue.
Towne describes her lunch-program involvement as a mixed bag. On the one hand it has improved cash flow and has given her restaurant greater exposure to a broader customer base. On the other, the “incredibly tight” profit margins leave scant room for miscalculations.
“You must have very strong control over labor and food costs,” says Towne, adding that she’s constantly checking commodity prices and negotiating with suppliers (but the fact that her order volume tripled does give her more bargaining power).
Unsurprisingly, Towne’s operations became more complicated, requiring additional cooks and delivery staff, earlier and longer hours and greater organization.
Pamela Culores, founder of orderlunches.com, says there are key elements to consider when deploying a school lunch program. Located in Foster City, California, orderlunches. com consults with restaurants and provides web-based solutions that help manage the organizational aspects of school lunch programs. These elements include:
The ordering process and payment. Will this happen manually or online? Manually typically involves several people from both the school and restaurant side and chews up a fair amount of time.
Menu options. You want to provide choices but too many options can prove problematic, says Culores, adding that they help restaurants develop their menus.
Food preparation. Pre-ordering is the ideal, says Culores. Providing a “walk-up” solution where no preordering is involved risks wasting both product and dollars.
Angela Dominick, owner of Dom’s Trattoria in Beverly Farms, Massachusetts, relies on the Internet to help manage her school lunch program. For the last three years she has provided school lunches to four private schools, delivering to each Monday through Thursday (she opted out of Fridays because of high customer traffic during that time in her restaurant). There are 368 students registered in the program; on an average day she serves from 120 to 150 students. The schools provide this program to parents as a service. Without it, the students would have to take lunches from home.
Ordering and payment are handled through her Web site (using a webbased ordering system). Orders must be in by midnight Friday for the next week. She offers a variety of options including pizza, macaroni and cheese, spaghetti, sandwiches, salads and wraps. She created the menu herself and while dishes offered vary somewhat from those in the restaurant, they use the same ingredients, simplifying ordering and preparation; however, staff does start the school lunch prep about 90 minutes earlier than that of the restaurant’s lunch prep.
Dominick didn’t have to jump through the same hoops as Towne when it came to providing nutritional information — unlike public schools, the private sector doesn’t require nutritional sheets or additional inspections, at least in her area. But like Towne, Dominick has realized several benefits from the school lunch program. The biggest one? Catering. “I cater almost every event that goes on in the schools. I’ve gained so much catering business,” says Dominick. She’s also noticed that when schools hold half-day sessions, kids will often drag their parents into the restaurant for lunch.
However, Towne’s experience has been different. An unexpected downside she encountered as a result of her participation in the school lunch programs was a drop in business at her restaurant, particularly for their promotional days.
“If kids were eating pizza for lunch, they were unlikely to want to come in at night with their families to eat pizza,” she explains. “We didn’t anticipate how much this would affect retail on promotional days; we saw an eightpercent drop in business.”
Now, although Towne is still enthusiastic about school lunches, she’s concentrating more on her retail business. “When all is said and done, weighing the money brought in from the school lunch program against the costs, it makes more sense to focus on retail,” she says. “It could bring better profits with less effort.”
Before reaching out to the school lunch market, Pamela Culores, founder of orderlunches.com, suggests restaurants consider:
- Number of days you can offer the service and consistently deliver the product on time.
- Can you offer a good mix of healthy, nutritious meals kids will like and want to order?
- The order cut-off time; how much lead time do you need?
- Can you distribute meals if parents aren’t available?
- Number of students and projected meals. The goal is 50 percent minimum adoption or better to maximize ROI.
How communication between restaurant and the parents and school will be handled. Culores says restaurants should know the distribution process and number of lunch sessions. For example, if there are three sessions and the school instructs the restaurant to make just a single delivery dropping everything off at once, quality can be compromised; negatively impacting the students’ perception of the restaurant.
Pamela Mills-Senn is a freelancer specializing in writing on topics of interest to all manner of businesses. She is based in Long Beach, California.
Photos by Rick Daugherty & Josh Keown
Last fall, Aldos Ristorante Italiano & Bar in Naples, Florida was tapped by Pizza Today to host the finale party for Slice of Hope, a fundraising event uniting the nation’s pizzerias in the fight against breast cancer.
Owners Kelly and Aldo Musico
Talk about an event. Owners Kelly and Aldo Musico, their crew, partners and volunteers created a grand festival-style event with a touching tribute to local breast cancer survivors, live music, an auction, bounce house, sticky wall, face painting and more. They sold tons of pizza and other items for the cause. The result: an estimated 1,000 people came out to Aldos.
The Musico’s commitment to serving their community is no surprise to the small city of Naples. It’s all part of what Kelly and Aldo do. Every Monday night, Aldos prepares a family style meal for Youth Haven, a residential emergency shelter for abused, neglected and abandoned children. “We cook them a family dinner and bring it to them every Monday night to give them a sense of security around them,” Kelly says.
Kelly and Aldo serve on the board of directors for Able Academy, a non-profit organization specializing in services to children with developmental disabilities. The restaurant hosts donation nights. Aldos also hosts Pizza with Santa, a fundraisung event for Able Academy, in December. Children have their pictures taken with Santa and eat pizza and cookies.
Each year, Aldos also adopts families for the holidays. But last December, with the devastating Superstorm Sandy that hit the East Coast, Kelly and Aldo adopted families in Tom’s River, New Jersey. The restaurant became a donation center. “It’s the little things we can do,” Kelly says. “The community has a place to drop things off and feel like they are a part of something.” Three pallets filled with necessities and gifts were sent to Tom’s River over the holidays.
The Musicos say taking an active role in the community is simply how they were raised. “I think we should give back and not just take, take, take,” Kelly says.
The Musicos and their restaurant’s visibility as community champions have had a positive impact on Aldos’ $1 million annual sales. Some Slice of Hope attendees noted that it was their first experience with the restaurant and indicated that they would be back for more.
Aldos’ generosity has created a buzz. From its beginnings, the restaurant has thrived from word of mouth. Aldo, who was born in Naples, Italy, and Kelly opened the restaurant as a six-table lunch, carryout and delivery place in an industrial park, in 2002. Within its first year, Aldos received a positive review from the local Naples Daily News, bragging about its pizza. “A lot of these people in Naples read the paper and they think it’s the Bible,” Kelly says, adding that the write-up brought a flurry of business.
Within a month, Aldos moved into its current location in a strip mall tucked away from the tourism-rich downtown and beach sections of Naples. The move increased dining space to 70 seats and gave the Musicos the kitchen space to provide a full Italian menu and beer and wine. The restaurant continued to build steam among their clientele of families, snowbirds and the golfing community.
The Musicos were looking to expand even more and provide liquor, as well, in 2005. To acquire the proper liquor permit in their area, they increased their seating to 150, including a 60-seat private room. With their resourcefulness, the entire project cost under $10,000, including a liquor license. “We were able to acquire used tables and chairs,” Kelly says. “We had friends build booths so it was just material. Another friend did the stone wall.”
Aldos, during the peak season months of January to April, uses the private room for general seating. The room is used for meetings, wedding rehearsal dinners and family gatherings, year round.
After the renovations, Aldos stocked a full-service bar. Ten percent of the restaurant’s total sales come from wine, with an emphasis on Italian varieties, with beer and spirits adding another five percent of sales.
Alcohol sales get an added boost from Aldos’ 15-percent carryout business because of its inviting bar. “People love to order a pizza and then come sit at the bar and have a drink while they wait for their food to be ready,” Aldo says.
Pizza is No. 1 at Aldos, and makes up 60 percent of its annual sales. Its specialty New York-style pizzas, like the Gorgonzola with ricotta, garlic and mozzarella, are popular among patrons. The Musicos infuse specials into their traditional menu. Each year, Kelly and Aldo evaluate their menu, ridding it of items that don’t sell well and adding specials that were customer favorites, helping keep food costs at a steady 26 percent. The Campania made the menu last year with fresh arugula, cherry tomatoes, shaved Reggiano tossed with extra virgin olive oil and lemon over a white pizza.
The Musicos also look for ways to improve their menu offerings. They recently changed up the lasagna, using more cheese and less noodles. Kelly says the dish’s sales have doubled.
Kelly says signature dishes sell well, including Chicken Aldo and Veal Aldo (chicken breast or veal sautéed with roasted red peppers, artichoke hearts, mushrooms, provolone in a pink sauce), and Veal Carmelita (Veal medallions wrapped in prosciutto and provolone, sautéed in a caramelized white wine sauce).
In a coastal state, seafood is also a must. Mussels, clams and grouper make regular appearance on its specials menu.
For the Musicos, their business is always moving forward. Aldos recently charted new territory — niche marketing. Having never participated in advertising before, Kelly says they elected to place colorful, photo-rich ads in Golf Shore Life magazine, so that locals and tourists could see their offerings. Aldos has also partnered with the AA hockey league Everglades. The team’s mascot, Swampy, gives away Aldos gift certificates and coupons during all 34 season games, with a viewing of an Aldos commercial thrown in for good measure.
Aldos recently opened a new lunch daypart operation. The restaurant already provides lunches to a local private school. “Aldo and I are here anyway, so it was a no brainer,” Kelly says. “We use all of the same ingredients, so all we had to do was modify the dinner menu by adding some hoagies and stromboli/calzones.”
The Musicos hired a marketing consultant to get the word out that Aldos is now open for lunch. They send lunch specials, like a two-slice deal for $5, to Aldos’ more than 1,000 Facebook fans and advertise them on sidewalk signs. Kelly has personally called all of her contacts to let them know of lunch offerings and the free meeting space that is available.
Aldo says the lunch business is slowly growing. The Musicos are focused on building lunch sales, with a goal of elevating it to 20 percent of Aldos total sales.
Denise Greer is associate editor of Pizza Today.
Photos by Rick Daugherty
In a competitive market, standing out is imperative to success. For Orlando, Florida-based Flippers Pizzeria, differentiation has been key to its execution –– but so, too, has putting into place the right management team to take the company to the next level. As a result, Flippers has flourished to 14 stores with sales of more than $15 million, and the company is on the precipice of an enviable wave of growth.
Flippers Pizzeria started 25 years ago by Scott Kousaie and partner Todd Dennis, but “where we started and what Flippers was originally is nothing close to what you see today,” Kousaie says. “We had the basic philosophy of wanting a higher quality and we had some ability but not the knowledge or the know-how … and the (right) people around us to make it all happen. In the beginning, you’re struggling financially with investment and what your dream is and what your reality is usually doesn’t marry up in the beginning.”
By the mid 1990s, Flippers had grown to five stores and a commissary, “but we really hadn’t found a way to put it all together,” Kousaie says. They focused less on physical growth and more on building store sales and by 2004 in-store sales had doubled. They implemented profit sharing with their managers and put into place an upper management team that “took the concept to another level,” he says. The year 2008 proved to be pivotal when new partner Don Howard helped the company smarten its brand, modernize their fast-casual look and place a greater emphasis on franchising. “We took the food and our culture and wrapped it into an attractive package that had the look and the feel of a national brand,” Kousaie says.
From left, Director of Purchasing & Distribution Jessie Malek; Regional Director Gwen Kousaie; VP of Operations Ben Richardson; CEO and Founding Partner Scott Kousaie and Director of Training & Development Josh Hogan
Today, Flippers Pizzeria encompasses nine corporate and five franchise stores, and a 16-unit franchising agreement has been signed for the Tampa area. They also operate a commissary, which “gives us the ability to actively select the ingredients and products that we want,” says Jessie Malek, Flippers’ director of purchasing and distribution. “If we don’t have it, then we have the ability to produce it. The fresh chicken, as an example, is an all-natural chicken and we manufacture that at the commissary. We went from a pumped up chicken breast to an all-natural product, and that has done wonders for us. We package it ourselves and we private label it.
“Another ingredient (processed at the commissary) is the prosciutto, which is a little bit more on the high-end side and that’s definitely what we’re more about.”
Ben Richardson, vice president of operations, says that dealing with distributors at the corporate level allows franchisees to focus on their product in the stores. “To be able to send an order off for 250 items is huge,” he says.
Still, Kousaie is quick to point out that much is made in-house. “We make our dough fresh, on-premises,” he says, and sauce is made and vegetables chopped on-site. “Our concept is premium. We go for the best.”
They prefer to let the stores handle as much as possible to build what they call “Passion for Product’ because “when the team members see what goes into making our pizza sauce, that’s one of those intangible things that really builds pride and passion,” Richardson says. “Making dough on premises is another good example. We use extravirgin olive oil and All-Trumps flour –– the best stuff that you can get.
You would think that team members would be reluctant to make dough, but knowing they put their hands on it –– from the ingredients to the finished product –– is a really great discovery that we’ve had with our team. It really builds pride for the product.”
As a result, pizza accounts for 70 to 75 percent of sales. (Alcohol accounts for two to 10 percent depending on location). “Without a doubt, pizza is our driver,” Kousaie says. “Pizza is our passion.”
Aside from traditional cheese and pepperoni, Flippers has 23 specialty pizzas and more than 40 toppings on its menu. One of the biggest sellers is the Mediterranean Chicken (basil, pesto sauce, chicken, spinach, roasted peppers, Roma tomatoes, black olives and feta cheese). They added a smaller personal-sized pizza known as the “My Pie,” and “the driving force behind that is when you typically have pizza with a group of people, you end up with something like cheese or pepperoni,” Richardson says. “One of the things that makes us different is that you can get one of these and get what you want and don’t have to worry about sharing. You can get something that you crave. That’s what we do here –– create that perfect pizza experience.”
And Flippers elevates its flavor profiles with fresh ingredients like basil, garlic, sea salt and a propriertary spice blend that lends uniqueness to their dishes. Deliveries two to three times per week keep ingredients at their peak and lower the need for walk-in cooler space.
Recently, they added a Margherita pizza to their menu, but didn’t just use the toppings already found in their kitchens. They use D.O.P.-certified San Marzano tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and basil and EVOO. “We knew we could sell it, but the goal for us was to do it right, and we could bake it in our brick ovens,” Kousaie says. “I’d stand our Margherita up against anybody’s out there in terms of taste and quality.”
While Flippers’ focus on food and quality has helped establish it in the Orlando market, the company also realizes that marketing and community service are vital. School sponsorships and donations such as student achievement cards have been successful tools for the company, says Kelly Pfister, director of sales and marketing. “Whatever the schools need we’ll do –– taking our sponsorship ads on the football fields and scoreboards, encouraging them to come in for spirit night as well as sponsoring Little League and men’s softball teams.”
Donating slices during events gets Flippers’ name into the community and generates positive word of mouth, which increases catering business and promotes lunch specials.
Social media is used to drive guests to the Web site and their mobile app, and they do some couponing to increase traffic in some of their tourist locations. “Direct mail goes out every week at all of our stores, so we’re consistent with that,” Pfister says.
Joshua Hogan, director of training and development, says their customer appreciation card (which gives customers a free two-topping My Pie) is another tool that is especially successful in new markets. “We stand behind our product so well that we give out hundreds a day leading up to that opening,” Hogan says. “Sometimes, we’ve reached into the thousands just so that people can get a free sample of our product. We stand behind it, and we know once they taste it, they’ll be back. I think that is the biggest tool that we have.”
Adds Richardson: “We put a lot into our product, and we don’t want to devalue it. Even though we do feel that we compete with the big three for our customers, we don’t consider them competition. We don’t want the discount pizza competition.”
With operations and marketing down, the company is poised for expansion. They have plans for growth at the corporate level and have a 16-store franchise deal in place for expansion in the Tampa market over the next eight years.
“We want to make sure that we grow smartly, so that the brand is protected,” he adds. “We’re not going to grow beyond our ability to handle it.”
Franchise openings are handled the same as corporate stores, with Hogan and his team on-site for training and continuous evaluations to ensure consistency. “We’re not branching out too quickly or too far to where we can’t handle it or build the infrastructure to handle it,” Kousaie says. Adds Richardson: “Building a strong culture at each store that we open is what will be the continued success of the company.”
Mandy Detwiler is managing editor of Pizza Today.
You can also sound off at: Facebook.com/PizzaToday & Twitter.com/PizzaToday
High Praise Indeed
I’ve had 3 different professional photographers take food photos for us in the past year, and after over 500 shots, none even compare to the photos that Josh Keown takes!
Crystal Lake, Illinois
Brian, thank you for that high praise. We were stoked, butnotsurprised, tohearit. We know both Josh and Rick Daugherty(who has not photographed your pizzeria) take the coolest foodphotography on Earth— that’swhy we let them stick around!
I really enjoy reading the Quick Tips newsletter you all send out. Thanks for everything you do to help the little guys like us. We need all the help we can get these days. Any quick tip just for me today?
Yes … if you go to Vegas for this year’s International Pizza Expo next month, always bet on black! Actually, we have no clue how sound that advice happens to be, so let us take another crack at it. When you go to Vegas for next month’s International Pizza Expo, don’t waste your time gambling — enter our $20,000 Mega Bucks Giveaway instead.
Do you have a good recipe for Chicken Marsala? We’re looking for something new for our menu this winter.
Of course we do, and your customers are going to love it!
1/4 cup all-purpose flour for coating
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup sliced mushrooms, fresh or canned
1/2 cup Marsala wine
3 tablespoons chicken stock
Fresh parsley for garnish
In a shallow dish or bowl, mix together the flour, salt, pepper and oregano. Dredge chicken pieces lightly in flour mixture, shaking off excess. In a large skillet, melt butter and oil over medium heat. Place chicken breasts in the pan, and lightly brown. Turn over chicken pieces, and add mushrooms. Pour in wine and stock. Cover skillet; simmer chicken 10 minutes, turning once, until no longer pink and juices run clear.
Photo by Josh Keown
Two years ago, my general manager, Joel, and I visited the Yellowtail Restaurant in the Bellagio Hotel for a relaxing beer and sushi after a full day at the International Pizza Expo in Las Vegas. We sat next to three women when I heard one of them say: “It’s the sauce, I swear…”
I looked over on the women’s table to what looked like a small red Frisbee with micro greens sitting on a plate in between them. I smiled and asked: “What’s that?”
“The Bigeye Tuna Pizza,” one replied, smiling, “I was just telling my friends that this is so good because of the white truffle oil but they don’t agr…”
“No way, it’s the sauce underneath, the yuzu mayonnaise…mmm, to die for,” a second lady said. She then gobbled up her slice as the third lady spoke up: “Yup, it’s the sauce.”
I immediately ordered two Bigeye Tuna Pizzas, which were served cold on a tortilla wafer crust with yuzu mayo, red onion, thinly sliced tuna and topped with micro cilantro and bulls blood greens. As much as I hate to admit that a sushi chef made this spectacular pie, it was one of the best pizzas I’ve ever eaten and some of the greatest sauce to topping combinations ever.
Since then, we’ve always made the trek to the Bellagio to visit Yellowtail. In fact, Owner/Chef Akira Back and his chefs are now friends we see at every Pizza Expo. This accidental pizza run-in was also a wake-up call to me that behind every great pizza is an even better sauce, and you should take advantage of these outstanding flavor combinations.
Sauces are an easy way for you to sell some great pies to customers who are increasingly more savvy, smart and educated about world foods and cuisine. On the other end of this spectrum is our duty as business owners to deal with rising food costs and find sauces that can both make a profit and make my customers raving fans.
These are the variables I think about when starting a new sauce hunt:
Will the public buy a pizza with this sauce on it?
How much will this sauce cost me by the pizza?
How many ways can I use or modify this sauce in my menu mix?
Here are some cool ideas that can be used as a pizza or dipping sauce:
Basil Pesto. This traditional combination of basil, garlic, oil, Parmesan cheese and pine nut is spectacular paired with your tomato sauce and mozzarella. It can be made in a food processor or by mortar and pestle. There are some great frozen products on the market that do or do not include nuts and can be made into dipping sauces as well as squirt-bottle ready for your make line. This is the best sauce I’ve ever introduced on my menu.
Chipotle Blueberry. Take four cups of sliced white onions from your make line, add three tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and hand-grind one 7-ounce can of chipotle peppers in adobo found at any store. Mix and pass through or bake in your oven, stirring frequently until the onions become soft and caramelized. Add two cups of dried or with an immersion blender till saucy. This makes a great BBQ or spicy-sweet dipping sauce. I use this whole onion blueberry mix and fold ciabatta dough around it, cutting vents for steam and then bake it with spectacular results!
Curried Onion and Raisin. Use the same procedure as above except pour some powdered curry on the oiled onions and add a little water to mix well and pass through or bake in the oven. When hot and caramelized, add raisins, which will re-hydrate and plump. Try this curry mix with fresh spinach and chicken topped with melting aged Provolone. It will blow you away!
Jalepeno and Roasted Garlic. We use canned jalepeños with the juice and add roasted garlic, mayonnaise, sour cream, pepper and salt for a very popular dipping sauce.
Spicy Marinara. This can be created by combining your pizza sauce and red pepper flakes. Pour into two-ounce dipping sauce cups and serve. Add onion, green pepper, cumin, taco seasoning and add steak or chicken for some great Southwest Fajita flavors.
Ghost Chili Sauce. All I do is blend five cups of my pizza sauce with four dried ghost chilies, some jalapeño and roasted garlic. Let this sit and macerate for three days for devastating results. I call it the “Beelzebub,” and it has a big customer following. My staff calls it “Haters-Gonna-Hate” sauce or “Sauce of the Damned.”
Tuscan Crema Paradiso
Don’t freak out with the use of raw bacon in this sauce. In Sienna, they’ve been eating this on toasted bread with Chianti for thousands of years. When my sous chef Patty first made this, my initial wariness turned to bovine love at the first creamy bite. This sauce is perfect to dollop on a pizza or cheese bread before the oven for a melting pork paradise!
½ pound of lean back bacon or Italian pancetta
1 teaspoon salt
5 turns cracked black pepper
2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
3 to 4 garlic cloves, chopped and crushed
1 sprig of fresh rosemary stripped and chopped fine
First, chop the bacon and add to a food processor or in a container with an immersion blender with all the other ingredients. After integration, smash this putty-like mass out between a sanitized stainless steel table and the flat side of a knife, ensuring smoothness. Scrape up with a dough knife and knead like dough for a few minutes. The fat from the bacon will melt but the mass will soon become creamy. Put this in the refrigerator for one day to amalgamate flavors.
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.
Photo by Josh Keown
My heart sank as I reached the front door, only to realize that the worst was true. The usual line was nonexistent; the lights inside were dim and the front gates were down. My only clue was a small yellow notice on the front door. Apparently the New York City Department of Health and Human Hygiene had deemed this beloved pizzeria unfit to open. The reputation of an over 80-year-old pizzeria was on the line, and I was forced into the delicate position of defending its honor.
I could feel the text messages, voice mails and tweets piling up as friends and colleagues looked for answers upon hearing the news, but the challenge at hand was to explain to my pizza tour group why I was planning to feed them slices from an “unsanitary” restaurant. My tour wasn’t forming a great first impression of this landmark pizzeria, so it instantly became my job to play publicist and clean up the messy situation as we walked across the street to a pizzeria that had been spared by the DOH.
The first thing I had to do was explain the DOH grading system and how its standards impact the city’s fabled pizza culture. As in many other cities, letter grades reflect a certain number of points that are deducted for violations. Pizzerias fight an uphill battle because product is often staged in display cases, prompting instant deductions. I’ve seen pizzerias go so far as to tag the exact time and temperature of each pizza as it hits the counter yet still shiver in fear at the thought of a health inspector. Every pound of “contaminated” food earns even more deductions. So one hole in a 50-pound bag of flour can be lethal for a restaurant’s score.
Education is the best way out of a sticky situation, but be careful how you present information to your customers. I’ve heard lots of pizzeria managers say it’s impossible for bacteria to survive the high temperatures of a pizza oven — but that can sound like an excuse to let hygiene slide. I’ve also heard the charges that health inspectors are just looking for reasons to pull your score down because they want to make a name for themselves. Hear this through a customer’s ears and it sounds like a pile of unfounded excuses. Try instead to explain clearly what went wrong and how you intend to fix it. People love hearing about all the ways you’re going to improve their dining experience, so make this an opportunity to highlight the future rather than attempting to cover up the past.
A health department closing leaves a bitter taste in your customers’ mouths before they even have a chance to sample your food. Its punch is far more powerful than a few days of lost business; it’s a scarlet letter in the eyes of your customers. Do everything you can to educate your customers and it will soften the blow delivered by an unplanned closing.
Scott Wiener owns and operates Scott’s Pizza Tours in New York City.
Oggi’s Pizza & Brewing Co. is a unique, popular, casual-dining franchise that integrates the American passion for sports, proprietary award-winning micro-brewed beers and a varied menu that satiates with delicious food.
Twenty-one years ago, two brothers were working in the high-tech industry where their livelihoods were controlled by others. They dreamed of opening their own business, to manage their own destinies and build a future for their families. And so, Oggi’s was borne. The first restaurant opened in Del Mar, San Diego, in 1991.
After five years of operating an extremely successful restaurant and developing the Oggi’s brand into what it is today, the brothers were approached by numerous people to franchise the concept. Franchising since 1995, Oggi’s has grown throughout the years by word of mouth alone.
For the last 10 years, Oggi’s has built a well-known regional name and customer following by co-branding with local sports teams, including the San Diego Chargers, San Diego Padres, Anaheim Ducks, Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, and the Phoenix Coyotes. This strategy continues today in current markets, and will be expanded as Oggi’s enters new strategic markets.
In ongoing efforts to maintain our competitive edge and sustain our successful growth objectives, Oggi’s continues to evolve and enhance its customer experience through a new restaurant model that will improve cost efficiencies. It is important that we evolve our concept as our customer evolves. We are now launching the next generation of Oggi’s — a contemporary restaurant model inside and out that will focus on our core competencies of sports, beer and pizza.
To compliment our new Oggi’s restaurant design, we will be launching a new logo in 2013 that replaces our branding tag “Pizza & Brewing Co.” with “Sports, Brewhouse, Pizza”.
If you have been to an Oggi’s before, you will know that we are a family friendly restaurant, which is probably what makes us so unique, coupled with our other core competencies of sports, beer and pizza. Our restaurants have TVs placed all throughout the bar and restaurant dining area and are focused on the latest sporting events. In our new design we have expanded the bar area and placed an even bigger emphasis on Oggi’s beers and guest beers, making us a true Brewhouse. While our core design requirements will always have our restaurant remain family friendly because of our emphasis on pizza, we have created a truly unique integration of a relevant and exciting sports theme that does not cross over into the family space. Our experience has allowed us to create this new dual functioning food and bar opportunity, while serving all categories of our customer base in an environment that is unmatched in restaurant designs today.
As listed in our current FDD, our Item 19 reports our average store revenue is $2.1 million. With the enhancements to the new Oggi’s Sports, Brewhouse, Pizza restaurant and core product attributes, there is the opportunity to increase our customer base and sales volume, while decreasing store opening costs. All new Oggi’s franchised locations in 2013 and on will be built utilizing the new brand standards.
As we see the economy improving we have turned our attention to grow the franchise throughout California, Arizona and neighboring states. We are currently looking for area developers to expand into new markets and multi-unit operators all throughout our underdeveloped markets. It’s an exciting time at Oggi’s and we wanted to tell everyone all about it!
Photo by Rick Daugherty
Admit it: you’ve Googled people you know to find out more about them, and you’ve used Facebook to look up old friends without actually contacting them. You might even have used social media to do a quick background check on a job candidate, or to help you see what employees have said about your workplace. Using Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other sites can be an efficient way to research people, but you have to be cautious about how you use the information.
A survey by CareerBuilder indicated that 45 percent of employers said they use social networking sites to research job candidates, and another 11 percent said they plan to start doing so.
Kurt Drennen Mirtsching, whose title is Head Cheese at the two-unit Shakespeare’s Pizza in Columbia, Missouri, says that sounds like a good idea, but he hasn’t tried it. “I don’t think there would be anything wrong with that,” he says. “If they put information on Facebook for the public to see, they are allowing people to see it.”
Some Facebook users don’t publicize everything. Instead they “friend” people to let them view more personal content. Mirtsching thinks that information is more useful for friends than for potential bosses. “Some employers say it’s a requirement that you need to friend me,” he says. “I think that is inappropriate. It’s like saying, let me read your diary.”
Jerry Thurber agrees. He’s senior vice president of product innovation and development for Sterling Infosystems Inc., a pre-employment screening service based in New York City. “We absolutely recommend against ever friending anybody when recruiting them,” he says. “There is enough information in the public space.”
Often there is too much information. “Social media offers a wealth of valuable data clouded by irrelevant information,” Thurber says. “The real challenge is to understand how to edit out or avoid the irrelevant information.”
For example, one relevant area would be trustworthiness. “If you find people brag that they cheated their boss today, that’s a red flag,” Thurber says.
Other details are not relevant. “An employer should be careful of information they look for online because some of it should not be used for hiring,” says Daniel A. Schwartz, an attorney with Pullman & Comley LLC in Hartford, Connecticut. “Say they participated in a gay pride parade. There are laws prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation.”
According to the CareerBuilder survey, the top reasons employers did not hire people after viewing their social media presence were that the candidate posted inappropriate photos or information, the candidate posted content about them drinking or using drugs, or the candidate badmouthed their previous employer.
Sometimes people complain about current employers, so some companies have developed social media guidelines and added them to their employee handbooks. Schwartz cautions that there are limits to what these rules can say. Last August, the National Labor Relations Board released a report on 14 cases of people who were fired over their social media activity. In several cases, the NLRB found that the workers were wrongfully terminated because the employers’ rules, such as one prohibiting “inappropriate discussions,” were overly broad. A better rule, Schwartz says, would be one against posting pictures of customers without their knowledge, or posting confidential information, or making discriminatory or harassing posts.
In other cases, the NLRB found the employees should not have been terminated because they were engaged in “protected concerted activity,” which means conversations about improving the working conditions for the benefit of other employees.
Of course that wasn’t the case in certain highly publicized firings. In 2010, a waitress at a Brixx Pizza location in Charlotte, North Carolina, was fired after complaining on her Facebook page about having to stay hours after her shift ended to serve one table of customers who left her a paltry tip. Also in 2010, a server at a California Pizza Kitchen in Long Beach, California, was fired after complaining (with expletives) on Twitter about the new uniforms. In both cases, the employees violated specific rules, such as one about disparaging customers.
Tim McIntyre, vice president of communications for Ann Arbor, Michigan-based Domino’s Pizza, says the chain’s rules and guidelines encourage employees to show restraint. “We know you’re going to be on there,” he says of social media. “If you identify yourself as a Domino’s employee, we ask if you have a problem with your boss or your manager or something that is related to the office or the store, please use the established systems we’ve set up for you.” One system, he says, is the toll free number to the human resources department.
The rules also concern representing the brand. “If you feel compelled to go to a bar, please don’t wear a shirt with the Domino’s logo and then post inappropriate pictures of yourself,” McIntyre says. “We own the trademark.” Domino’s uses Google alerts and other technology to monitor online chatter about the chain and about competitors Pizza Hut and Papa John’s Pizza.
Mirtsching says Shakespeare’s Pizza does not have a policy on social media. If someone did complain online, he would likely talk to the worker. “I would probably say, ‘If you’ve got problems, don’t tell the whole world because then it sounds like you’re just complaining. Tell us and we can do something about it.’ ”
If an employee uses social media to deride your business, it gets tricky if the complainer works not for you but for one of your franchisees. Tim McIntyre, vice president of communications for Ann Arbor, Michigan based Domino’s Pizza, says if an employee at one of the 4,200 franchised locations does something inappropriate online, it’s up to the franchisee to take action. “We don’t manage with a hammer,” McIntyre says. “We don’t get involved in their HR policies and practices.” In a 2009 incident that has been covered exhaustively, two workers at a North Carolina franchise posted a hoax video on YouTube, and were fired by the franchisee.
Nora Caley is a freelance writer specializing in food and business topics. She lives in Denver, Colorado.
Photos by Rick Daugherty
When considering moving your restaurant from one location to another, there’s a lot at stake. As the owner of an established Italian restaurant here in Georgia, we wanted to make the right decision for both our business and our customers. Questions to ask yourself before moving:
Is your rent headed so high that your business can’t even afford it?
Do you have a better opportunity in a nicer space?
Is your landlord easy to work with?
Has business declined and it’s time to downsize?
These are just a handful of reasons why operators consider relocating their business.
Of course, with any deal, there’s a catch: the above questions are all the very reasons why some operators have moved and gone out of business, while others have had great success. I moved my 100- seat Italian eatery just a half-mile away into a slightly bigger space which added 35 seats, a bar area and dining room space that can be sectioned off for private parties.
Originally, when I started looking at available spaces we found one we liked, but it was four miles away. I knew we’d lose some of the customers that we worked so hard to win over. The space was also too raw and needed many costly renovations. We shopped around. The process I went through was extensive and honestly exhausting, but ultimately brought me to the best decision I could have made for my business.
The most important thing you’ve got to do when considering moving your operation is to be very organized and thorough in your research. Create a list of all things to be considered.
The space in which I had built my business worked well for us for five years and I knew it would actually be easier to stay where we were, especially since we had built a great clientele. Remember that easier is not always better! But, we were at the end of our lease and it was time to renew. For some reason the landlord wanted to hike the rent so high that my company would not have been able to afford it. That’s when I knew I needed to start looking at other spaces while at the same time attempting to negotiate a lower rent structure to try and stay put.
This process can take eight to 10 months or longer. Don’t think you can make a last-minute decision down to wire at the end of your lease. If you wait too long, you could be locked into signing a long-term lease somewhere you don’t really want to be or worse –– have no lease at all to operate your restaurant.
I think it’s to your advantage to let all parties know that you are looking at several locations, so you’ll get the best possible rent structure available. I was planning on moving all my furnishings and equipment as well as my hood and exhaust system and walk-in cooler, and it was necessary to get quotes from several companies to do the big work. It’s critical to create a timeline for a big move. If you don’t, the project can take so much longer than you anticipated — which will in turn cost you lost revenue. You can’t move everything overnight, and you’ve got to understand –– and plan for –– the costs associated with moving. The next step is to weigh out how long it will take you to recuperate the investment. Also understand that even if you estimate your moving expense, more than likely, unexpected expenses will arise.
Have an electrician look at your current electrical situation and make sure the new location can handle your electrical load. One problem I ran into with cost overruns was that my old location had three-phase power coming into the space and my steam table, walk-in cooler compressor along with my exhaust and make-up air motors all ran on that. The new space didn’t have it, and it was cost prohibitive to add it. So I replaced the compressor, the motors and my steam table to work with the one-phase power coming into the new space.
I was very thorough and estimated on the high side that it would cost $15,000 to move into a very nice existing restaurant space. Due to unforeseen issues, the move with improvements to the new space had a $10,000 overrun. This could potentially break somebody in the process of moving and prevent them from even being able to open due to lack of funds. Be careful.
When looking at other locations, here are some incredibly important things to consider, especially if you’ll be moving all your equipment to the new location like I did:
You also want your plumber and an HVAC team to check out the new space to see what might be needed to retrofit your equipment and to ensure all things are in good working order.
It is critical to have the board of health, building inspectors and the fire marshal come before you sign a lease to let you know of any potential expenses that need to be taken into consideration. I’ve seen folks sign a lease and then find out they need to upgrade the grease trap. In my county, they are enforcing $15,000 to $20,000 grease traps that need to be installed. That’s definitely not something you want to find out after your money has all been spent on other upgrades.
You need to measure the space accurately and lay out on paper the existing equipment you have and where everything will go. Creating timelines, getting quotes and understanding all that you need to do, including new licenses to operate if applicable, will give you the smooth transition you need. You’ve got to consider your lost revenue while closed and extra advertising dollars you’ll need to spend to inform the community of your new location.
We opened our new location exactly one week after we closed the old. Within 10 weeks of re-opening, we had a 44.3-percent increase in sales, and being just a half-mile from our old location has aided in our success.
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.
Photo by Rick Daugherty
The financial boost that comes from catering really and truly can take your business to the next level. There’s so much more to catering than one time monetary gratification. I find that each catered event I complete grows word-of-mouth. I generally get a couple of inquiries from each event. Now some of these events are small and simple, but think about this: a daily catered event for a staff of 18, at an average cost of $10 per person plus tax and delivery charge, adds more than $46,000 to my annual revenue — and that doesn’t include any large events. The good news is you already have everything you need (with the exception of perhaps catering pans) to make this all happen.
Half- and full-size aluminum pans are essentials for your entrées. Use the aluminum lids instead of foil. It’s sturdier and much more professional. Some disposable catering trays are great for sandwiches, cold cut platters and desserts. Make sure you keep them in stock for that last-minute order.
Here are some of the most popular things you can offer:
Baked ziti with meat sauce
Chicken broccoli Alfredo
Chicken Parmesan, Piccata or Marsala over pasta u
Stromboli (sliced on a platter)
Sandwich platters with assorted wraps
Pasta or garden salad
I like to provide bread and salad with two pasta entrées. If you don’t have any kind of dinner rolls, then simply cut your sub rolls into 2-inch-thick slices with butter on the side. I price everything to serve eight to 10 people and I use the half pans for each item.
$12.95 for a garden salad
$5.99 for bread with butter cups
$32 for baked ziti
$38 for chicken & broccoli Alfredo with penne pasta u
$38 for a pan of four-cheese lasagna
$45 for a pan of meat lasagna
$45 for a pan of Chicken Parmesa
Marsala or Piccata over pasta: $65 for a sandwich platter for 10.
Now, if you are feeding a group of more than 10, simply put your food into the full pans instead of halves (which will actually hold enough food for up to 30 people since they are deeper). I use one pound of raw pasta to cook for every 10 people I’m feeding, which initially may seem insufficient but will be enough after adding meat sauce or chicken and broccoli to it. Let me give you some creative alternatives to take your catering menu to a more diversified place than most of your competitors.
Here are some of my favorites:
Chicken Pesto Primavera is a simple variation of our Chicken & Broccoli Alfredo, which is comprised of sliced or diced chicken breast, steamed broccoli, cooked penne pasta and Alfredo sauce. For the Primavera version, simply add some of the other veggies you’ve got in the restaurant. Since we have a dinner vegetable medley that we offer with our entrées that is made up of roasted zucchini, yellow squash, tomatoes and caramelized onions, we toss that in with the pasta and a little bit of our pesto. By adding these two ingredients, we’ve created an entirely new entrée.
Chicken Roma is another simple dish with slight alterations that creates a slightly lighter dish version. It’s essentially the exact same dish as the Chicken Pesto Primavera, except this dish has no pesto. Plus, instead of being all Alfredo, we use mostly piccata sauce, which is made with chicken stock, lemon, wine, salt, pepper, garlic and little bit of roux to hold it together. Add a small amount of cream or even Alfredo to bring a creamy texture to this dish.
Chicken Giordano is yet again a creative entrée that can be enhanced from your traditional chicken marsala, which is made with some sautéed chicken breast sliced mushrooms and a marsala wine sauce and chicken stock, salt, pepper and garlic with a little roux to pull it together. Now simply add a very small amount of marinara sauce, sundried tomatoes and artichoke hearts to create this new dish. This would be great served over pasta as well.
There are a couple of important things to remember with these pasta catering dishes. The first is that although it’s best to typically cook our pasta “al dente”, I like to go just one stage more than that and fully cook the pasta (but not overcook it) for catering. The reason for this is because your pasta is still thirsty, in a sense, and wants to drink up any liquid. So in essence if your pasta is al dente, and the amount of sauce on your pasta seems totally sufficient, 30 to 40 minutes later when this office is about to dig into your delicious creation it will be very dry because the pasta will have absorbed the sauce. Don’t be afraid to over compensate just a little bit with your sauce for catering without having the pasta swimming in extra sauce. I also like to use penne pasta compared to spaghetti because it is much easier to serve by the spoonful.
Take your new catering earnings and do something great! Perhaps some beautiful chafing dishes for those big events!
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 Rick Daugherty
A couple of years ago, an Urbanspoon reviewer wrote that if Oregano’s Pizza Bistro were a movie, it would win an Academy award. The reviewer added: “From the background music to the star line-up of pizzas, sandwiches and pastas, this place has it all.”
Indeed, background music is to a restaurant what a soundtrack is to a movie. “Music is part of the allure. It’s one of the main ingredients in making a great atmosphere,” says Gary Tarr, advertising manager for Oregano’s, which has 12 locations in greater Phoenix, Tucson and Flagstaff.
Just as playing background music evokes benefits for a restaurant, it also brings legal obligations, if that music is copyrighted.
“The theory behind the law is that music, even if it’s just in the background, is an extra appeal that attracts more customers into a business,” says Henry Abromson, a Frederick, Maryland attorney specializing in intellectual property and entertainment law. “The business is profiting from playing the music, so it should send a little money to the people who created the music.”
Songwriters, composers and music publishers can’t track where and how often their creations are playing and then collect the royalties due them. That’s where the performance rights organizations (PROs) come in, such as the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI) and SESAC.
The PROs track music usage and collect licensing fees for the performance rights to millions of copyrighted works. They use that money to pay royalties to the songwriters, composers and music publishers who are members of the PRO. The purpose of licensing is to give music creators a fair shake, says Vincent Candilora, executive vice president of licensing at ASCAP. “If you want to use their property,” he says, “you have to get permission and pay them something.”
Licensing fee rates vary widely, depending on seating occupancy, how often music is played, whether the music is live or recorded and other factors. For a 100-seat restaurant playing compact discs for background music, ASCAP’s yearly fee would be $326, according to Candilora. “That’s less than a dollar a day,” he says. “A soda costs more than that.”
Penalties for violating copyright are hefty, ranging from $750 to $50,000 per copyrighted work, perhaps more if the court decides the infringement was willful. Still, restaurateurs often question why they must pay licensing fees, Candilora reports. They figure if they bought a CD or downloaded songs on their iPod, those songs are theirs to enjoy. That’s true when playing music for your personal use. But if you play it in your business for customers, it’s considered a music performance, and copyright protection kicks in.
But didn’t those music creators already get paid? Why should you pay for playing their music? That line of thinking stems from misperceptions about how the music world works, Candilora explains. People confuse the recording artist with the songwriter, who may be the same person but often isn’t.
“If I mention a song like ‘The Gambler,’ the first person to come to mind is Kenny Rogers,” Candilora says. “But a guy by the name of Don Schlitiz wrote that song. Getting royalties from his songwriting is how Don puts his kids through school. People think if you have a hit, you’re an instant millionaire, but that’s so far from the truth.”
A songwriter, composer or music publisher can belong to only one PRO. So a restaurant paying ASCAP’s fee gains access to the 8.5 million songs on ASCAP’s list, but not to the 7.5 million songs BMI manages. That’s why restaurants often obtain licenses from multiple PROs.
Exemptions from fees exist for specific situations. A restaurant with less than 3,750 square feet (including storage, kitchen, bathrooms, etc.) pays no royalties for playing radio and television music only. A restaurant exceeding that square footage pays no fees if:
- It plays radios and has no more than six speakers total, with no more than four speakers per room.
- It plays no more than four televisions, each measuring up to 55 inches diagonally, with only one television per room. The limit on speakers is six total and no more than four per room.
Other ways to avoid paying the PROs’ fees include:
- Installing a coin-operated jukebox for customer use. You’ll owe a fee to the Jukebox License Office in New York.
- Playing music with expired copyrights. For music written before 1978, copyright protection lasts for the artist’s life plus 95 years. That shifts to the artist’s life plus 70 years for music written after 1978.
- Subscribing to a background music provider, such as Dynamic Media or Muzak. The latter’s Web site quotes a $40/month rate for its “premium” option, plus one-time costs of $299 for a media player and a $99 activation fee.Otherwise, expect music licensing requirements to apply to your restaurant. Just as you pay a florist for the flowers on your tables, pay the music creator for his or her music. “It’s a cost of doing business,” Candilora says, “and it’s the right thing to do.”
Live music is a vital part of the business mix at Mississippi Pizza in Portland, Oregon, which includes a restaurant area, a music room for live performances and a bar/lounge. Double doors separate the three spaces.
“Some people want to come in with their family and not hear live music,” says Philip Stanton, who co-owns the business with wife Stephanie. Those customers can dine in the restaurant area, where only background music plays. But others come specifically to hear live music and end up ordering pizza, too. There are two live shows per night, with no cover charges for 80 percent of the shows.
Stanton pays licensing fees to ASCAP, BMI and SESAC, totaling $4,500 per year. “It’s absolutely worth it,” he says. “The live music brings in people who don’t know this neighborhood and normally wouldn’t come to our restaurant. That generates 60,000 people a year who come here to hear music and now know how to get to our place for a pizza.”
Dianne Molvig is a freelance writer in Madison, Wisconsin.
Photo by Rick Daugherty
Q: What is the purpose of cross-stacking?
A: The purpose of cross-stacking dough trays or boxes is to allow the dough to cool down slightly after it has been cut and balled and before the dough is sealed. While mixing, dough heats up as a result of the friction put upon it by the machine. The yeast in dough is more active when warm, causing the dough to rise and ferment. Cross-stacking the dough trays in the refrigerator allows the air to flow through the trays slowly, thereby retarding the fermentation process until you are ready to pull out your dough again. If you were to put your dough directly in the fridge, already sealed, right after cutting and balling, the heat from within the dough ball would be trapped and would cause the dough to continue rising. As a result, your dough could be over-fermented by the time you want to use it. You never want to keep your dough trays or boxes cross-stacked for more than 10-20 minutes. If left open too long, the dough will form a dry layer on the surface of each ball. A small amount of water massaged on the top can easily counter any small portion of dryness, rehydrating it and making it smooth again. But this should only be used if necessary.
Q: Do I change the percentage of yeast in my batch if I live in Colorado?
A: Yes. At high elevations the amount of yeast in your recipe generally needs to be lowered. Because of the high elevation, the increase in air pressure makes yeast act faster — which causes your dough to rise more quickly. The amount of malt/ sugar in your recipe could be lowered as well since the yeast will not need as much to consume. Since the dough is going to rise quicker it is important to cut and ball your dough and get it into the refrigerator as soon as possible after mixing. Another important tip is to make sure you cover your dough appropriately. The air at higher altitudes is very dry, so covering your batch is critical to maintaining quality.
*The information in this answer was enhanced by Jeff Smokavitch of Brown Dog Pizza in Telluride, Colorado (elev. 8750 ft.).
Respecting The Craft is a new column featuring World Pizza Champion Tony Gemignani, owner of Tony’s Pizza Napoletana in San Francisco and Pizza Rock in Sacramento. Tony respects the craft of pizza making daily. If you have questions on any kitchen topic ranging from prep to finish, Tony’s your guy. Send questions via Twitter @PizzaToday, Facebook (search: Pizza Today) or e-mail jwhite@ pizzatoday.com and we’ll pass the best ones on to Tony. This month, Tony addresses pizza dough topics.
Photos by Rick Daugherty
After the success of the intitial Slice of Hope charity event in October of 2011, we knew we had to do it again. The first incarnation, you see, was much more than a simple bike ride from Portland to Seattle. It was an industry marketing event that brought people into America’s pizzerias. It raised more than $100,000 for the Karen Mullen Breast Cancer Foundation and highlighted the giving community spirit that makes pizzerias so special.
Thankfully, pizzeria owners across the nation agreed: because they turned out fast and furious to support Slice of Hope 2012. In fact, more than 230 pizzerias joined Slice of Hope 2012 by hosting fundraising parties, making donations or purchasing SOH t-shirts. Donations are still coming in, but last year’s fundraising mark has already been well surpassed. As of this writing, the Karen Mullen Breast Cancer Foundation has received roughly $140,000 in funding. And, the Foundation has been quick to act with it. Before 2012 came to a close, $25,000 had been sent to researchers at The Ohio State University, $35,000 to help fund a study at the University of Miami and $65,000 was given to the University of Washington Medicine. These studies give hope that a promising treatment is around the corner.
The funding provided to the Unversity of Miami, for example, will be used to help enroll patients in a clinical trial to test a theory that may one day save the lives of patients with triple-negative breast cancer. In a nutshell, certain breast cancer patients benefit from anti-estrogen treatments. However, those with triple negative disease present a complex and unfortunate case: their estrogen receptors are either missing or are “masked” in their DNA by what is called a “Ubiquitin.” Ubiquitins, which destroy proteins in cells, were discovered in 2004. The scientist who figured them out won a Nobel Prize in chemistry for his discovery. The study at the University of Miami is attempting to “unmask” the estrogen receptor. If this can be done, the theory is that a compound known as a “Proteasome Inhibitor” can be used to treat breast cancer patients with an anti-estrogen therapy. This treatment would then allow these patients to also benefit from Tamoxifen, which currently is only used in patients who have a functional estrogen receptor in their cancer cells. The hope is that the two therapies together can produce results.
While this may be complicated material, it shows how the hard work and giving spirit that made Slice of Hope 2012 a success will be put to use this year in an attempt to get closer to finding a cure for breast cancer. And it’s the reason Kelly Musico, co-owner of Aldos Pizza in Naples, Florida, wanted to jump on board.
“The work the Karen Mullen Breast Cancer Foundation does is just so important and so amazing,” Musico said during the Slice of Hope finale party she threw on October 12 (see photos above). Members of the Pizza Today crew cycled from Lakeland, Florida, to Naples October 9-12 to raise awareness of the Foundation and to highight the fact that October is both National Pizza Month and National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The 200-plus mile bike ride served as a conversation starter for pizzerias across America as they interacted with their customers and encouraged them to support the Slice of Hope mission by visting a pizzeria on Friday, October 12, which Pizza Today designated as National Pizza Party Day. “We are just so honored to be able host this event in our community,” said Musico. “We’re honored and thrilled that Pizza Today thought of us.”
Carmello LaMotta, owner of LaMotta’s Italian Restaurant in Fort Myers (pictured with the cyclists on page 56), agrees. He hosted a reception on October 11 for the cyclists as they came through his city, then followed that by throwing his own Slice of Hope party on October 12.
“We want to give back, and this is a great cause that touches everyone,” he says. “We will have people coming in for months after this. They appreciate and value that you have a local business who invests in charities like this. They see you doing something good for others, then they know they can feel good about supporting your pizzeria.”
Stay tuned in the months ahead for a final number on how much Slice of Hope raised for the Foundation in 2012 — as well as our big plans for Slice of Hope 2013!
Jeremy White is editor-in-chief of Pizza Today.
Big Dave’s Word From cheese prices to new year strategies, Big Dave has you covered at pizzatoday.com/big-dave-ostrander
Calzone with up to 2 toppings for only $5 today until 4pm! X-mas is next week, be a pal and give a Pizza Jerks Gift Certificate!
Why it works: This Tweet was posted right before Christmas when money is tight for a lot of customers. Five bucks is a great motivator, but chips and a drink will bring the check total up. We love the idea of gift certificates, and this Tweet puts the idea of lunch and a quick gift into customers’ heads.
Stone Hearth Pizza
Office holiday party? Pizza, pasta, organic salads? Yep, we got that. Give @Stone_Hearth a call for your catering needs-- big and small.
Why it works: There’s always an office manager who doesn’t quite get things done on time or a boss who decides to be generous at the last minute. This Tweet is for them –– the Scrooges and procrastinators who need a fast idea for a company luncheon. And Stone Hearth fits the bill perfectly. This Tweet only needed a phone number for maximum impact.
PizzaToday, Big Dave Ostrander and some of the most successful independent pizzeria operators in the country have joined forces to create the world’s first School of Pizzeria Management. Visit schoolofpizzeriamanagement.com
You can now “LIKE” School of Pizzeria Management on Facebook!
Facebook Pizza Feeds
Pizza Lucé Hopkins What’s up Pizza Luce fanatics!?!? We got a $25 gift certificate lookin to go to a good home! All you gotta do is tell us what is your favorite thing about the snow. We will pick the winner at 2pm today so be sure to check back this post to see if you’re a lucky winner!
Why it works: This Facebook post does a good job generating word of mouth for Pizza Lucé. It makes an instant fan of the winner, encourages Facebook followers to check the page during the day and brings in business. Once you get a customer in, you can upsell drinks and appetizers beyond the $25 gift certificate.
Cicero’s Pizzeria, Mission Viejo, California Cicero’s fans, we have something special for you! On 12/12/12 we will be offering two different pizza specials.
On Wednesday, you can enjoy two 12” cheese pizzas for $12 or one large 14” pizza with up to 3 toppings for -- wait for it-- $12!
These special one-day deals exclude specialty pizzas and are for take-out only, and they cannot be combined with any other offers or coupons. Each additional topping for either special will be $1.25. We hope you’re hungry because we’ll be ready to go. Share this post and bring some friends! Hope to see you all on 12/12/12!
Why it works: The 12/12/12 buzz offered businesses some easy marketing fodder and Cicero’s took advantage. The promotion provisions were posted right there, and it encouraged guests to share it on their own wall. Best yet –– the one-day promotion was easy to implement.
Photo by Josh Keown
It’s true that chickens can’t really fly, but their wings have been flying out the doors of pizzerias for a couple of decades now increasing in popularity year after year. We’ve seen the emergence of restaurants dedicated to wings like Wild Wings, Buffalo Wild Wings, Wing Stop, Wing Street and so many more. Going back 40 years, when I was a little boy in California, my dad would take my brothers and I out for a special night and we’d get chicken wings. I remember we could order them about a half dozen different ways. Today’s customers have even more options. We see gas prices rise during heavy holiday traveling time because of the demand. It’s the same way with chicken wings and the Super Bowl. Although other great foods have become part of our spread, wings remain a main attraction of our party feast!
There are different ways to buy and cook your wings. You can purchase wings either raw or cooked. You’ll find wings whole with the wing tip on or cut with the tips removed, which is my preference. Getting your wings raw is pretty basic. You have a choice in size and you can get them fresh or frozen. Then you need to decide whether you want to marinate them or just toss them in seasoning and a light breading before you fry them. When I was 16 as a fry cook in a Chinese restaurant, they marinated the wings for 24 hours and would drain them very well and then give them their first fry (no coating). This would fully cook the wings and we would then refrigerate them, but they’d still be pretty white in color. To order, we would fry them again fairly quickly and they’d get a nice crispness to them. Baking the wings is a good alternative to the first fry.
When considering purchasing cooked wings instead of raw, the variety is nearly endless and can be a bit overwhelming. When I bought my pizzerias in 1998, the original owner didn’t have any fryers but still sold a lot of oven-able wings. He bought three different varieties –– mild buffalo, spicy buffalo and teriyaki. I immediately switched to buying plain but mildly seasoned cooked wings, and when they came out of the oven we would then toss them in the same flavor choices we offered before and we added BBQ sauce as well. By doing this, we brought our inventory down to just one type of wing and were able to increase our offerings. You can toss your wings in wet marinades or sauces and can even use some dry rub style seasonings like lemon pepper or ranch seasoning. I’m always looking for great new ideas in the culinary world, especially new flavors to toss wings in, so I pay attention when I’m going out to eat –– especially when I travel –– so I can see the great innovation of other chefs.
Of course I love garlic –– after all, I named my restaurant the Garlic Clove. I was so delighted to find the best chicken wings I’ve ever had (next to my favorite sticky Chinese chicken wings) when I traveled to the Del Ray Beach Garlic Festival a year ago. Although the festival was great, I heard from someone at the festival about a restaurant around the corner called Bru’s Room Sports Grill who had on their menu grilled “Triple Threat Wings.” If you ever get to Del Ray Beach, you’ve got to try them, but if you don’t, no worries. As a chef of many years, I have learned to dissect flavors and reassemble them in my kitchen duplicating what I’ve tasted. They seem to blend their buffalo, BBQ and teriyaki sauce equally, throw in a hearty teaspoon of freshly chopped garlic and then toss in the wings. The flavor combination is just amazing, but if you’re on a date, just make sure you both have them or have some mints on hand! Just know they are worth it. It also affirms what I’ve shared with you over the years about mixing ingredients you already have to create something brand new.
You should determine what type of wings to purchase based on the size of your operation, especially when it comes to your refrigeration. Uncooked wings should always be less expensive, but handling raw poultry is one of the most critical ingredients you carry and must be stored under refrigeration at the lowest possible level (off the floor of course). Having to cook wings from a raw state can also pose problems, such as serving undercooked wings (very dangerous). Also, the possibility of over cooking them renders them undesirable.
Great, pre-cooked, lightly seasoned wings are a little more expensive. But, in the long run, they should be easier to handle and process. Offer glazes and coatings like Mild Buffalo, Spicy, Teriyaki, lemon pepper, ranch, BBQ, Honey Chipotle BBQ, Sweet and Spicy Chili glaze. Be innovative. Come up with some of your own unique flavors and make it happen. One more tip I want to share is that not everyone wants to mess with bones, so use some awesome fried tenders and glaze them in the same way to make a great alternative. Many places call them boneless wings. The opportunities are endless.
Jerk Chicken Wings
24 chicken wings, wing tips cut off, halved at the joint
½ cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic
½ teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground allspice
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ cup minced jalapeño peppers
1 teaspoon black pepper
8 drops hot sauce
3 tablespoons soy sauce
½ cup vegetable oil
In a food processor, combine all of the ingredients except the chicken. Pulse to puree and liquefy.
Arrange the chicken wings in a single layer in a baking pan. Pour the marinade over the chicken. Let marinate, covered and chilled, for at least 2 hours or overnight.
Place the wings in one layer in a roasting pan. Spoon some of the marinade over the wings. Bake in a preheated 450 F oven for about 30 minutes, or until cooked through. Serve with celery sticks and trimmed whole scallions.
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.
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