While pepperoni and sausage will always remain top sellers, operators have a wide variety of gourmet Italian meats to beef up their menus. Serving capocollo will differentiate your operation from the competition. Similar to ham and prosciutto, capocollo is a traditional dry-cured Italian salami made from pork shoulder or neck. (Ham and prosciutto are derived from different pig parts.) To prepare, capocollo is seasoned, soaked in brine and then salted and stuffed into a casing, where it is hung up to cure. It is usually sliced thin and used as a pizza topping or in sandwiches such as muffulettas and panini. Capocollo comes in hot and sweet versions and is beloved for its distinct flavor and tender, fatty texture.
The decision to add capocollo to Tulio’s pizzas came easy to Pisano. “I loved it growing up; it’s my favorite Italian meat –– especially the spicy one –– and I knew putting it on a pizza was an easy way to incorporate it into my menu,” he says.
Pisano’s favorite capocollo usage is paired with agro dolce (sweet and sour) onions, Bel Paese cheese and black pepper. In addition, he has baked up pizzas with capocollo, balsamic braised radicchio and fontina; and capocollo, asparagus and buffalo mozzarella. He’s even grilled pizza topped with capocollo, melon, Parmesan, black pepper and extra virgin olive oil.
He says the food cost ranges anywhere from $9.24 to $15 per pound, which is not much different than the cost for ham or prosciutto. “The nice thing is that a little goes a long way,” says Pisano. “Flavor wise, it’s a fattier meat, so there’s a great taste in every bite. Plus the texture is different than a pepperoni or sausage and that adds to the flavor and quality of the pizza too.”
Paul Hamilton, proprietor of PW Pizza in St. Louis, Missouri, also choose capocollo for its rich flavor and high-quality reputation. He places locally produced Volpi capocollo on the Yo Pauly pizza, which is topped with red sauce, hard salami, capocollo, sundried tomatoes, pepperoncini, roasted garlic and mozzarella. Capocollo is also included as a “Build Your Own” pizza ingredient and placed in the hot Italian sandwich.
Hamilton finds the cost of capocollo slightly less than prosciutto and significantly more than ham (which they do not offer). The “Yo Pauly” has a 32-percent food cost, which is the highest cost pizza sold. Hamilton says it’s worth it. “We keep a very careful eye on portion control,” he says.
The only downside, Hamilton believes, is that capocollo can be oily. “We make sure that the guest knows this ahead of time,” he says. “In the end, it really enhances pizza with its robust spicy flavor.”
Capocollo also fits well on the menu at ESTATE in Sonoma, California. “First, it is housemade and represents our goal to be involved with production of as many ingredients as possible. Two, it is delicious. Three, its versatility makes it a rare ingredient that can be used in so many fashions or simply on its own,” explains John Toulze, managing partner/executive chef.
Toulze’s favorite capocollo pizza pairings includes a simple Quattro fromagio pizza with roasted pears where he places thinly sliced capocollo on the pizza immediately after baking. The other is a red sauce-based pizza with chiles, broccoli rabe and capocollo that is cooked with the other toppings.
“On the first pizza the capocollo provides a fatty and salty back drop to the rich cheeses and sweet pears. It helps round out the flavors and takes the pears towards a more savory
application,” he says. “On the second pizza it actually crisps up and some of the fat will leach out. So it provides both texture and seasoning along with an amazing aroma.
Toulze estimates his capocollo costs about $7 per pound. “Because the capocollo cut we use comes from the shoulder of the animal it is very cost effective item. For housemade salumi it is one of the easier recipes to produce and master,” he says. “It’s just an amazing ingredient that is simple and complex at the same time.”
His customers agree. In February, Touzle went through almost 55 pounds of it.
Melanie Wolkoff Wachsman is a freelance writer in Louisville, Kentucky. She covers food, business and lifestyle trends.
Yield: one 12-inch pizza
12-inch hand tossed dough
4 ounces tomato sauce
½ Tablespoon Romano cheese
1 cup mozzarella, shredded
2 ½ ounces capocollo, sliced
2 ounces hard salami, sliced
1½ ounces sundried tomatoes (rinse with water, drain, then lightly soak with olive oil and julienne)
1½ ounces pepperoncini, sliced
1½ ounces garlic (roasted with extra virgin olive oil for 45 minutes in a 550 F oven)
Lay sauce on top of dough. Layer
in order Romano, mozzarella,
capocollo, salami, sundried tomato, pepperoncini and garlic and bake.
Baste pizza crust with extra virgin
olive oil that cooked with garlic
PHOTOS BY JOSH KEOWN
When you’re located in a large metropolis, it’s easy to get lost in the crowd. Luckily, Los Angeles-based Fresh Brothers is not just a standout in the pizza industry but also in the bustling central California restaurant landscape. Since its inception in late 2007, the company has grown to six stores with sales of more than $8 million. Sure they’ve got high volume, but their noteworthy leadership skills and successful operations have garnered the company national attention –– including our 2012 Independent Pizzeria of the Year award.
Adam and Debbie Goldberg, along with Adam’s brother, Michael, launched their first store in June 2008 following careers in television, but they didn’t enter the pizza business blind. Adam and Michael’s brother, Scott, owns Miller Pizza Company in northwest Indiana, and Adam and Michael based their core menu and pizza recipes on their brother’s. They tweaked it for central California, however, and placed a greater emphasis on fresh salads and wings. Today, the company has six stores in the L.A. area with two more slated to open by the end of 2012. Sales are expected to weigh in at just over $8 million this year and are projected for more than $10 million in 2013.
When coming up with a concept, why pizza? The Goldbergs noted a lack of upscale fast-casual pizza in their market, and having the support of their family made the career transition easier. “The big reason, for me, was because I thought I could spend more time with my family and my kids to be an owner-operator business with the intention of growing,” Adam says. “Our business plan was to open five stores in two years, and we ended up doing five stores in about 28 months.”
Fresh Brothers proves that a menu doesn’t have to be large to generate high volume. The focus remains on pizzas, salads and wings even as they expand, Adam says, “and we’ve made the ordering process easy. That’s very important. People can call us here who have never seen our menu and order a pizza.”
They make dough at their Manhattan Beach store and transfer it daily to the other units. “That’s a big end of quality control –– to make sure the consistency of the pizzas (is) the same from store to store,” Michael says. Sauce is made in-house, and in a bit of ingenuity, Fresh Brothers offers a secondary sauce for kids (offered at the cost of an additional topping) that includes a blend of vegetables mixed into the pizza sauce. The idea was even featured on the syndicated talk show “The Doctors” in a discussion on whether pizza was an appropriate menu item in schools. (Fresh Brothers has school contracts to supply pizza to several school districts.) “When we were coming up with the concept, we looked at everything from the perspective of a parent,” Debbie says. “I think our most powerful customer is the mom, and this is one thing that parents just love.”
Like most pizzerias, pepperoni and cheese top the list of bestsellers, but Da Works (Sausage, pepperoni, mushrooms, green peppers and onion) and the Fresh Vegetable (fresh green peppers, onions, mushrooms, green and black olives) are favorite specialty pizzas.
“We bake everything –– nothing’s fried here,” Michael says. “Our fries, our wings –– everything’s baked. It goes right through the pizza oven.”
The company even hand-chops the vegetables for its popular salad offerings, which is based off a salad bar concept without the self-service, making it easier for the customer and faster for the stores. “We have a 40-item salad table, and we give people the opportunity to create their own salad,” Adam says. “People can choose how they want their salad –– tossed or chopped, do they want the dressing tossed in or on the side –– and (what exact) ingredients. Of course along side of that we have seven other set staples –– our Fresh Market, our Farmer’s Market, our Cobb … but I really enjoy making salads, though, and there (are) very few salad bars out there anymore that aren’t Bristol Farms or Whole Foods that you walk out at 14 bucks a piece. We wanted to do a fair-priced fresh salad.”
Debbie says part of Fresh Brothers’ salad appeal is that they go beyond the Iceberg lettuce and stringed carrots found at many contemporary restaurants. “We knew we could really set ourselves apart,” she says, by offering salad ingredients like hearts of palm, pepperoncini, avocado, fresh eggs and a variety of dressings.
Menuing items beyond pizza would require better packaging, and “we chose nice, clear plastic bowls,” Adam says. “We grew up eating salad in a bowl, not in a Styrofoam container. We thought that was real important as part of the marketing so you can actually see the fresh salad when you were handed it.”
While pizza makes up a significant portion of sales (up to 95 percent), “on a Friday or Saturday night at all of our locations, anywhere from 65 to 80 percent of our salads go with a pizza,” Adam says.
Vendor deliveries four times a week ensure freshness, and smart ordering and reducing waste keeps their food costs manageable. “We’ve actually found that we’ve made our ... walk-in cooler smaller, which forces us to order (product) more,” Michael says. “We’ve found that if we shrink down that walk-in cooler, it really makes you think how your product control is.”
“We’ve also pushed and negotiated with our food purveyors to give us multiple deliveries,” Adam adds. “They don’t want to do it. When you’re a one-store unit ... your terms are not nearly as good. You don’t have that credit yet. They only want to drop once a week.”
And when Fresh Brothers couldn’t source what they needed locally, they weren’t afraid to ship in product, such as the giardiniera they buy from a Chicago company. “We could not find a good giardiniera out here,” Adam says, “so we ended up shipping it by the five-gallon bucket. Now we bring it in by the pallet. We get one to two pallet loads at a time.”
They added gluten-free pizza to their repertoire after finding that many residents in their market had switched not only out of necessity but also as a lifestyle change. Michael says it took trying out six to eight different crusts before finding one that best replicated their thin-crust. “We now sell over a thousand of those pizzas a week,” he says. “We have our own menu dedicated to it, and it’s a big part of our business. The wonderful part of our gluten-free menu is that we’ve been able to bring families together to eat at our restaurants or to eat (pizza) at home because they couldn’t before. Johnny had a food allergy, so Mom and Dad stopped eating pizza. Now they can order a pizza for Johnny and a regular pizza for themselves, and everything that goes with it.”
They have a strict training program that educates employees on the gluten-free process. The crust comes from a vendor in a sealed box, “and we don’t want to say that we make it, because it’s a lot safer that we don’t,” Adam adds. They have a whole set-up in their walk-in cooler dedicated to making gluten-free pizza including separate products, tools and packaging. Boxes are taped shut for delivery or carryout so gluten-free customers feel secure in knowing their product hasn’t been tampered with.
Debbie adds that the addition of a non-dairy vegan cheese alongside the gluten-free menu has been “life-changing” for some customers who have not been able to enjoy pizza of any kind. “Being able to offer those has been very rewarding,” she says.
They test-marketed beer and wine at one location, but the upcoming Santa Monica store will have a full beer and wine selection, and future locations will offer it as well. Adding that component has been hindered by the size of their locations and current laws mandating bathroom sizes for restaurants with bars, but it’s not a large part of Fresh Brothers’ business. “A lot of it is just the demographics that we’re in,” Adam says. “Our model is based on a pick-up and delivery service, which is what we’re sticking to, but with our second unit, we found that when we put about 24 seats inside, all of our restaurants have communal seating outside as well, so we take advantage of that outdoor seating. In California, we have about 320 days a year that we can use that seating. We’ll always have some kind of seating in there. … A lot of it just comes down to the cost of real estate. We’d rather get more pizzas into people’s houses on the pick-up or
delivery side than have to pay for a larger space.” Delivery accounts for about 55 percent of sales across the chain. Michael spent 25 years in the trucking industry and brings that operations experience to the business. Managing the delivery side has been done through use of their POS system, and they say training helps expedite the high delivery volume. “We’ll have anywhere from four to 10 drivers, depending on location, working at one time,” Michael says.
Part of Fresh Brothers’ success lies in its infrastructure, starting with a director of operations who oversees a team of 12 managers. The company employs 255 people and like most restaurants, retention is crucial to smooth operations. “We’re honest (with employees),” Michael says. “We respect them. We’ve given a lot of people their first jobs just from walking in, right out of high school or while they’re in high school. Our management team, we train them very well and we watch what’s going on. I think it all comes down to respect, though. If you respect them, they’ll respect you back.”
Adam adds that since the company was founded as a family business, they try to extend that relationship to
employees. “We want them to feel, at the end of the night, that they had a good day at work,” he says. “They’re going back home to their families, and we want their families to feel good about where their kids are working.”
“Our retention is very good,” Michael adds. “We have original employees at our Manhattan (Beach) store who have been with us since the start. And, we have original employees who have moved up through the system. We have always put that goal out there for people if they are interested. Our management team probably consists of 50-50 coming from within or coming from the outside.”
The Goldbergs remain visible in their stores as much for the employees’ sake as for their customers. “The one thing you can’t put on paper is the attitude that you give to your customers and your employees,” Adam says. “They’re able to pick that up from Michael and I and Debbie, (and) when our brother, Scott, comes out or when our father, Gary, comes out. They see how we work and how we deal with people and how important it is to kind of duplicate that.”
Back-of-the-house functions such as payroll are kept out of the stores so managers can focus on day-to-day operations. They rely heavily on their POS system for daily ordering reports, which helps them stay on top of their food and labor costs. “That is a big part of our success,” Adam says, “to make sure that we’re on top of those numbers, even down to making sure our credit cards batch each night and the banks have receipts.”
“There’s no way we could be at six stores if we were sitting up at night cutting paychecks or trying to reconcile our bank accounts,” Michael adds.
Despite six stores and their planned future growth, Fresh Brothers’ owners remain active on a daily basis. Jumping from two stores to three was the most challenging –– Adam and Michael joked that since there were no brothers left to take the next store, they’d have to rely on outside help for management, and giving up that control –– even with 15- to 16-hour days –– was difficult at first. After six stores, though, “it surprises me every time I’m sitting in a store and I see someone park their car, come in and get a pizza and walk out to go home,” Adam says. “It’s the greatest feeling I have, and not that I should be surprised –– because that’s exactly the idea of owning a restaurant –– but four years later, I get such a kick out of knowing that that dad just came over to pick up a pizza to go home and feed his kids.”
With units now covering more territory in the L.A. market, Fresh Brothers has turned its attention to extensive marketing. Even with its first store, emphasis was placed on direct mail and print, and “a very big part of our marketing is through social media, as well as Internet sites,” Adam says.
More stores covering a larger area requires more advertising, and “we’ve sprung into radio in the No. 2 market in the country (and) we have three billboards throughout Los Angeles,” Adam says. “It all ties in. We have people who live in Calabasas and (work) in Beverly Hills. They order for their office at one location, and on Friday night, they can order food for their family at another. That’s the real key to our growth and building the brand, and that’s why consistency is so important, because many of our customers eat at more than one Fresh Brothers.”
Aside from in-store branding –– everything, right down to the napkin holders carries the Fresh Brothers logo –– they also have a “Fresh Fan Club” and “we’ve absolutely taken the
approach that it costs us less to bring in our current customers than to bring in new customers,” Adam says, but “we do both. We have marketing geared toward our loyal members who like to eat our food on a regular basis (and) to those who have never tried our food. And how do we get them?
“Our No. 1 secret is sampling our food. It’s where most of our marketing budget goes to on a monthly basis. We will spend upwards of $10- to $15,000 a month in giving away free food.”
All the stores with the exception of the Manhattan Beach location, which doesn’t have the walk-in traffic of the others, samples anywhere from 5 to 15 pizzas a day. An employee hands out one-by-two inch slices one customer at a time. It encourages people who might have seen the company’s billboard or heard their advertisement to put a taste to the name, and it also reinforces the brand for current customers and
encourages them to try something other than their usual cheese or pepperoni pizza.
Debbie coordinates the company’s social media and “in keeping with the idea that Michael and Adam are in-store every day –– at least one of them is walking around –– it is me talking to our customers,” she says. “We don’t farm it out. I know our customers through our Facebook page. I know who I’m tweeting with. I think that’s amazing, and that’s really unique. I think that’s where a lot of people go wrong.”
The team personally handles complaints through their Web site and social media, and five customers are called each day to get feedback and offer a discount for their next order. If the customer had a bad experience, that is expedited to an owner for follow-up and a promise to make the order right. Catering orders are also followed-up on in the afternoons after delivery.
“We encourage our management team to write up a gift certificate request for even the smallest mistake or issue that happens,” Adam says. “For instance, somebody orders an additional ranch dressing with their order of chicken wings, but they only got one and they call and we learn about it. We want to know about that, and we’re going to acknowledge that with a letter to them and give them a little something to get them to come back in next time. It’s all about that customer retention.”
They launched apps for iPhone and Android smartphones this year and offer a 10-percent discount just for using those. “We’re trying to draw them to that web ordering or app ordering because somewhere down the line, we’re going to start seeing the percentages change, and we can start reducing our labor,” Michael says.
An additional benefit to smartphone and Internet orders? “We see about a 10- to 15-percent increase per ticket,” Adam adds. Folks who might just order a pizza on the telephone see enticing offers for additions like salads and wings. The more menu items customers try, the more apt they are to reorder those items.
With its operations firmly under control, Fresh Brothers, it seems, is on the precipice of a very real and envious expansion, but this isn’t a spark-and-fizzle plan. In June, the company announced that it had received an equity investment from Michael Greenberg, co-founder and president of international shoe company Skechers USA, Inc. The partnership will add fuel to Fresh Brothers’ fire, and two new stores are planned this year in Santa Monica and Brentwood, California.
“I acquired a meaningful position in Fresh Brothers and expect to be an active partner in helping Fresh Brothers build upon the solid foundation that has been established since the company was founded in 2008,” Greenberg says. “I was attracted to Fresh Brothers because of the company’s family friendly menu and its compelling store level economics.
“My investment will be used to repay Fresh Brothers debt and to fund new store growth, with Fresh Brothers planning to double its store base over the next 12 to 18 months.”
With the new partnership, they don’t worry about growing too fast too soon, especially in the Los Angeles market, which has plenty of room without the potential to cannibalize themselves. When the company expanded from one store to two, “we were looking to tag the market,” Adam says. “Where we are, we’re looking at about a three-mile radius around each store to add the next store.
“As we got to our sixth store, we knew we needed to bring in not only somebody with some capital with the potential to recapitalize the company but (also) someone with the knowledge of how to continue to grow and what it takes to move forward in opening stores and other potential investment opportunities.”
Greenberg’s investment is not only financial. He also brings a wealth of business experience –– including international operations and expansion –– to the partnership, which is critical for the level of growth the company hopes to see in the next few years. “Michael’s vast knowledge of real estate development and business experience makes him the perfect strategic partner for Fresh Brothers,” Adam says.
Along with expansion comes the need to standardize their operations to ensure consistency from one location to another. They’ve created a master plan and future units will use the same design, which includes warm, muted colors, televisions and an open floor plan. They also use scales to measure and the exact same product from store to store. That uniformity strengthens the brand for growth outside their own system, but the intent is to remain private for now with a focus on Southern California first. “We’re not looking to sell franchises,” Adam says. “Every time we open a store, we get that much better. We’re constantly learning.”
FRESH BROTHERS BY THE NUMBERS
- Fresh Brothers served over a half million orders in 2011.
- Fresh Brothers mixed up more than 5,000 gallons of Fresh Kids’ Special sauce in 2011.
- 15 percent of Fresh Brothers’ customers order online or use their iPhone or Droid App.
- The Manhattan Beach and Las Virgenes school districts served more than 85,000 Fresh Brothers pizzas to their students during their 2011-2012 school year.
- 400,000 pounds of dough were made fresh at the Manhattan Beach Fresh Brothers commissary in 2011.
- The six Fresh Brothers units went through 375,000 pounds of part skim, lower fat mozzarella cheese in 2011.
- Fresh Brothers sold 225,000 pounds of baked Buffalo wings in 2011.
- Fresh Brothers is looking at 39 potential cities from Santa Barbara to San Diego to open locations in the next several years.
- Fresh Brothers locations are earning an average of about $1,250 in sales per square foot. A typical location is about 1,200 square feet.
Photos by Josh Keown
Let me know your thoughts please, and Thanks a lot!
3 Style Pizza, owner
Sounds like you have just bumped into the weenie of the week. You are legally in the right to keep all the money and send him out the door with his pizza, or not. His choice. You contractually, legally fulfilled your duty by providing him a good and service for a pre-determined price. If you send him packing he will bad mouth you and 3 Style Pizza, only telling his side of the story to anyone who will listen. I’d handle it this way:
I’d cheerfully refund all of his money. I’d educate him on why your menu price is fair and let him know how you use only the very best ingredients available, and plenty of them. I’d let him know that you take it personally when customers don’t have a wonderful experience at your place. I’d apologize and then I’d give him an additional free $20 gift certificate to your favorite cheap competitor down the street (I used to buy and have on hand a few, in advance, just for these kind of people). I’d let him know that you would be happy to personally call his order in to the manager and let him know you’ll be right there. I’d also advise him that you will be not able to provide any future pizzas to him for six months. I’d do everything I could to be as sweet, kind, understanding, empathetic and firm with the jerk.
Your reputation is worth more than $17. You have taken away his power to bad mouth you. You win. Donate the pizza to on-duty cops, firemen or paramedics. Tell them your story. They will thank you and tell people good things about you and your place. They deal with jerks every day. Make delicious lemonade out of this experience.
Ain’t being in business great?
Big Dave Ostrander owned a highly successful independent pizzeria before becoming a consultant, speaker and internationally sought-after trainer. He is a monthly contributor to Pizza Today.
Just like last year, we’re now selling Slice of Hope t-shirts for $10 each. The profits from the sale of each shirt will be donated to the Karen Mullen Breast Cancer Foundation. This year shirts are available in black and pink. The pink shirts are “women’s cut” — something we’re rolling out due to numerous requests.
To order your shirt today, simply visit PizzaToday.com and click on the Slice of Hope tab. While you’re there, please consider filling out the Slice of Hope pledge form as well. We’re asking America’s pizzerias to donate 15, 20 or even 30 percent of sales from Friday, October 12 to the Karen Mullen Breast Cancer Foundation through Slice of Hope.
Imagine the change we, as an industry, could enact if we got behind this cause collectively. At nearly $40 billion in sales, the pizza segment is robust. It’s also a caring and giving section, and Slice of Hope is our chance to prove that.
Breast cancer is a disease that impacts all of us in one way or another. If you don’t personally know someone who has suffered from it, consider yourself fortunate. Let’s rally together and do something about it!
Every day in research labs across the country, scientists are working on promising treatments. Let’s help them end this disease.
The Karen Mullen Breast Cancer Foundation is a non-profit 501(c)3, which means your donations to the Foundation are tax-deductible. Next month I’ll provide even more details on Slice of Hope 2012. But please don’t wait until then to act. Visit PizzaToday.com now to fill out those pledge forms and order t-shirts.
Lastly, if you would like to be involved in Slice of Hope 2012 in your own unique way, I want to hear from you. There’s no such thing as too much help!
Jeremy White, editor-in-chief
Whey protein is a high quality complete protein that contains all of the essential amino acids your body needs. It is easy to digest and helps maintain a healthy weight. We decided to add whey protein to our dough because it adds a high quality protein to a food that traditionally has been all carbohydrates. It also adds a nice crisp to the pizza dough.
After closing the first Power Pizzeria in 2004, I felt that we had an amazing concept with great potential. The problem was not the concept. The problem was my lack of knowledge. I took a step back and learned everything that I needed to know about the industry and applied what I learned from my mistakes in my first restaurant. I attended Pizza Expo in Vegas, and hired consultants to refine my system. I’ve learned from trial and error and I’ve built training, purchasing and marketing systems that work.
Franchising was always the goal. I know the Power Pizzeria concept is a winner and I feel that franchising will let us grow at a rapid pace that we would not be able to achieve by owning all of our stores.
I wanted to take my time developing our concept and making sure that our systems were in place. Our goal was always to open four stores and then franchise. Owning multiple stores has allowed us to know how our business works and will allow us to properly train franchisees and make sure that they are profitable.
Our goal is to open 50 stores in the next five years.
EJ Martinez first conceptualized Power Pizzeria while a disc jockey in South Beach, Florida in 2004. After rebooting the concept with four company-owned locations in south Florida, Martinez
began franchising the pizzeria this year.
At Pizza Expo® you’ll find 5½ football fields of pizza-related products, services and equipment, as well as leading industry experts, consultants and analysts who are all willing to share new ideas and insights on everything you need to adapt, react and prosper in today’s economy. At next year’s show, we’ve added several new speakers to the lineup of experts keeping you abreast of trends and best practices in pizzeria management.
Here are just a few of the new speakers and topics we have planned for our 29th annual show, March 19–21, 2013:
“Famous Joe” Carlucci, owner of Joe’s Pizzeria, will tell you how to expand your catering business and boost your bottom line.
Roberta Matuson, president of Human Resource Solutions, is the author of the highly acclaimed book, Suddenly in Charge: Managing Up, Managing Down, Succeeding All Around, a Washington Post Top Five Business Book for Leaders. Roberta will show you how to “Make Dollars and Sense Out of Gen Y”, as well as present a second session on strategies for business growth.
Jeff Mease, founder & CEO of One World Enterprises, which includes Pizza X, Lennie’s, The Bloomington Brewing Co. and One World Catering & Events, will take you through the process of deciding whether or not to open a second unit.
Mike Bausch, owner of Andolini’s Pizzeria and 2011 Tulsa Restaurateur of the Year, will tell you how to manage, motivate and empower Gen Y to take your pizzeria to the next level.
T. J. Schier, president and founder of Incentivize Solutions and S.M.A.R.T. Restaurant Group, is one of the foremost authorities on restaurant training tactics. He’ll teach you the “Training Tactics of Pizza Pros” that really work and give a second seminar on 10 tactics to make your front line improve your bottom line.
Beckee Moreland, director of gluten-free industry initiatives for the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness, will disclose how gluten-free products are impacting foodservice and creating new menu opportunities. She’ll discuss the potential of gluten-free pizza in the working pizzeria kitchen.
The bottom line is there’s always something new at Pizza Expo that can improve your pizzeria… a new marketing idea, technological innovation or menu item. As always, our commitment to you, our partners, is to continue to grow and improve every facet of Pizza Expo… from the trade show floor to our networking events and contests. In fact, if you don’t come away from International Pizza Expo 2013 with new cost-saving or profit-boosting ideas, I’ll refund your registration fee. All you have to do is put it in writing to me and I’ll send you a prompt refund. What other show gives you a money-back guarantee? I’ll tell you, none!
Remember International Pizza Expo® is a tax-deductible working vacation.
For more information on our contests or to register, please call (800) 489-8324 or visit our Website at www.PizzaExpo.com.
It’s all pizza and it’s all for YOU!
Executive Vice President
Now of course, nuts come in a variety of sizes, textures and flavors. The nuts you use anywhere on your menu should be cooked and not raw. When you toast nuts ––whatever type it is –– the flavor profile becomes more enhanced with a much more desirable flavor, and, yes, it even changes the texture slightly.
Before I go any further with some creative suggestions, I want you to understand how serious nut allergies can be. In 1995, a wrongful death suit was filed against a popular pizza chain after a New Hampshire woman died following consumption of a chicken pesto sandwich. The woman had reportedly asked the server if the sauce contained nuts, and the server failed to mention that it did. Following consumption, the woman fell into anaphylactic shock and died a week later, prompting a $10.4 million lawsuit filed by her family.
If you’re going to use nuts in your recipe in any capacity, however slight, you need to clearly state your use of nuts on your menu. Further care can be taken through proper labeling, staff training and repeated warnings. Take precautionary measures so that cross contamination is not taking place within your own restaurant. The safety of our staff and customers must be our priority.
Cautions completed, let’s take a look at a variety of nuts and how they may be incorporated into your menu. Keep in mind that different nuts have different price points, so make sure you pay close attention to what kind of nuts you’re bringing in and how they’ll affect your food costs. For example if you want to kick up your Hawaiian Pizza by adding some macadamia nuts, it’s important to know that you’ve picked an appropriate nut for that pizza but you’ve also picked a expensive nut as well. Don’t let that stop you from using macadamia nuts just because they’re expensive. Either change your price point to accommodate the costly macadamias or think about coarsely chopping or crushing the nuts and give the pizza a light dusting instead of scattering whole macadamias over the pizza.
You also want to keep in mind, that it may be better to sprinkle any nuts on your pizza after it comes out of the oven. Otherwise, they may burn especially if they are on top of the pizza as it bakes.
You can get as creative as you want with different kinds of nuts on your pizza. If you decide that you want to add almonds, you now need to decide between whole, crushed, sliced or slivered. Each option fits various menu applications.
The second salad I recommend is a Honey Ginger Almond Chicken Salad. Start with a freshly made garden salad, add a crumbled egg, some grilled chicken breast and two ounces of toasted almond slices with a nice honey ginger dressing. Walnuts and candied walnuts have become a popular salad topping and are something to consider.
Obviously, Pad Thai is an ethnic pasta dish made with rice noodles which is far from the spaghetti or fettuccini that we serve on a daily basis, but it is a nice alternative to our every day menu and a gluten free alternative as well. I mention Pad Thai because it has crushed peanuts with its other wonderful ingredients like cilantro, carrots, bean sprouts, scallions and chicken or other protein, and these flavors can be combined on pizzas and salads, and even sandwiches.
I think pistachios and cashews are great nuts to add to your meals as well. In a previous article, I shared that I like to finely chop pistachio nuts with sun-dried tomatoes and then roll some one-ounce goat cheese balls into the mixture. These pistachio and sundried tomato encrusted goat cheese balls are the perfect garnish to any salad or meat and cheese platter.
Now you can introduce nuts to your pizza, pasta and salad menu. There’s NUTTin’ to it!
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.
COCONUT PRAWN PIZZA
1 dough ball
3 ounces sweet chili sauce
1/3 cup mozzarella
1/4 cup smoked Gouda
15 prawns, sliced in half
2-1/2 ounces red onion, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons fresh shredded coconut
2 ounces rough chopped peanuts
1-1/2 ounces cilantro, picked leaves
1-1/2 ounces fresh mint, picked leaves
Roll out dough ball to 11 inches in diameter. Use fingers to create 1/4-inch crust. Spread sauce out from center of dough. Evenly cover with mozzarella and Gouda cheese. Lay red onions, prawns (ridged side up) and coconut evenly across pizza. Sprinkle with peanuts and bake in wood-fired oven until cheese begins to golden and edges crisp. Turn pizzas 2-3 times while cooking to ensure even browning. When finished, garnish with cilantro and fresh mint. Slice and serve.
1/4 cup pecans
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons water
Combine ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil. Turn down to simmer for 5-7 minutes until coated and golden. (If too runny,continue to simmer). Let pecans dry on parchment paper.
Photos by Rick Daugherty
But in a restaurant, furniture mishaps are harder to camouflage. A rug might cause customers and staff to trip. Tablecloths get messy fast with many diners. And sometimes it is just impossible to flip a booth’s cushion over to hide a mistake. And since customers notice everything, from stains on fabric to tears on upholstery, operators have to be on immediate damage control.
“First, I will say that there are tons of different kinds of upholstery and vinyls on the market,” says Brian Christensen, a graphic and web design coordinator at Waymar Companies in Burnsville, Minnesota. “With that comes a multitude of different coatings to repel spills. Some fabrics actually have silver ions embedded in the threads to kill germs and ‘self-clean.’ These different characteristics lead to higher prices.”
Annabelle Petriella, owner of www.StylishFurnitureAndDecor.com and www.StylishDesignServices.com, recommends treating fabric upholstery with a stain guard, if possible, before using the fabric and to adhere pads to the bottom of chair legs to protect floors and legs. “Choose fabrics that are easy to clean and won’t show dirt as easily,” she says. “Dark colors, patterned and non-plain fabrics, vinyl, acrylic and microfiber/ultrasuede are good choices. Avoid cotton, linen and silk.”
When it comes to proper clean-up, operators need to act fast and follow manufacturer’s instructions, which are many times overlooked or lost.
“Prompt cleaning is always recommended,” Christensen says. “Ordinary dirt and stains can be removed with mild soap and water. Rinse with clean water and dry with a lint-free cloth. The use of certain cleaning agents can be harmful to the surface appearance and lifespan of a product. Some fabrics that do not have a coating can actually transfer dyes from clothes (such as denim jeans) causing permanent damage. For this reason, it is typical to see a darker fabric on seats.”
For mild messes on vinyl and upholstery, head to the kitchen for supplies. “For light soiling, use a solution of 10-percent household liquid dish soap with warm water applied with a soft damp cloth,” says Janet Gregoire, office manager at Millennium Seating in Marietta, Georgia. “If necessary, use a solution of 10-percent household liquid dish soap with warm water applied with a soft bristle brush. Wipe away the residue with a water-dampened cloth.”
Heavier messes will require a stronger solution. “For heavy soiling, dampen a soft white cloth with a one to one (1:1) solution of Formula 409/water,” says Donny Oglesby, furniture specialist at KaTom Restaurant Supply in Russellville, Tennessee. “For more difficult stains, dampen a soft white cloth with a solution of household bleach (10percent bleach/ 90 percent water). Rub gently and rinse with a water dampened cloth to remove bleach concentrate.” No matter what cleaner or solution is applied, make sure it is properly removed to avert further damage, like plasticizer migration, according to Christine Worley, fabric claims handler at Mayer Fabrics in Indianapolis, Indiana.
“This occurs when cleaners have been applied and left on the material and the plasticizers (the molecular hinge that allows materials to maintain their flexibility) are drawn to the surface,” she says. “When the plasticizers migrate to the surface, the material becomes brittle. A tell-tale sign of this is that the sides of the booth (where they have not been cleaned) are still soft and pliable to the touch whereas the ‘seat’ surface is hard and brittle indicating plasticizer migration has occurred. We have all sat on a booth at one time or another that was cracked with sharp edges, haven’t we?”
To prevent this, Worley said every cleaning should be followed by a rinse wipe with clear water to remove any chemical residue that could build up on the surface.
“For example, it would be like washing your dishes and not rinsing them or washing your hair and not rinsing out the shampoo. You have still taken the step to clean the item but the result will not be pleasant in any of those scenarios if rinsing does not take place,” Worley says.
To repair a tear or rip to upholstery, avoid duct tape. “I cannot recommend any do-it-yourself patching or fixing; I would have a professional do it right. The largest impression a customer has of a restaurant (aside from the food) is the atmosphere, furniture is the largest contributor to that,” Christensen says.
Oglesby agrees that do-it-yourself patching is not the answer. “There are a few repair kits on the market where you glue torn areas down with a patch over top. These are very obvious and do not last long as people slide across them, and it rips the vinyl more. You can remove the vinyl and attempt a patch underneath but you will still have the rip on the top and if you are not a trained repair man replacing the vinyl can be very hard. The best thing to do when you have a rip is contact your local furniture repair company and have them come out to attempt a repair or replace that section of vinyl.”
But even with the best care and attention, time takes its toll on booths and chairs, and operators must decide when to replace.
“Booths and chairs have different replacement needs,” Oglesby adds. “Booths need to be replaced when the springs or the wood under the cushions have broken. This is evident by springs coming through or when you sit, you feel like you are going through the bottom of the booth. For chairs, the upholstery can be replaced as needed. As long as the frame is not bent or welds are broken, it can stay in use. Wood chairs can separate over time. A little wood glue or gorilla glue, clamp and leave overnight, and the chair will be good as new.”.
DeAnn Owens is a freelance journalist living in Ohio. She specializes in features and human interest stories.
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We at Joey’s on the Beach, in Panama City Beach, Florida, would like to thank everyone at Pizza Today magazine for including our little family owned and operated pizzeria in their article in this month’s issue! We feel very blessed to be a part of a great magazine. Again we would like to thank you and invite you to visit us at our new second location, Joey’s of Lynn Haven, located in Lynn Haven, Florida, on Highway 77.
Joseph Di Meglio
Joey’s on the Beach
Panama City, Florida
Joseph, thank you for reading and enjoying Pizza Today over the years! It was our pleasure to include you in the roundup.
SLICE OF HOPE 2012
When are you selling shirts for this year’s Slice of Hope? We love the ones we got last year!
Janet, Slice of Hope t-shirts are available NOW.
Visit PizzaToday.com and click on the Slice of Hope tab for more info.
Thanks for your support.
Eating my bowl of cereal this morning, I find myself pondering your question in the June issue of Pizza Today on “Paper or Plastic?” Perhaps a follow up to the question should be Landfill, Precious Resources, or Reduce, Recycle, Reuse?
Does a company want to invest in dishwashing equipment with the potential of increasing their electricity and water bill? Or use more paper (from trees) and plasticware (from oil) while filling up the landfill, which all use precious resources? For me the answers are very clear but can be perceived differently.
Paper seems to be a waste of precious resources but is always very clean to the patron. Though CostCo (c) (formally Price Club) has always used the eight-inch paper plate and is extremely successful with the “sold by the slice” sales strategy.
However with the continued focus on recycling paper and reducing trash (paper for plates and oil for the bags), most companies choose the paper route and do not advertise or jump on the recycling bandwagon due to the backlash of negative publicity; as this type of free advertisement should be avoided.
By investing into high energy-saving dishwashing equipment, plates and plasticware made from recycled materials, using the reduce, recycle, reuse motto can be satisifying for all; including those of us who continue to research the competition and eat at our favorite pizza restaurants.
P.S. - I am in process of writing my business plan to open a restaurant named Mitchellini’s Pizza in 2013.
David, you raise interesting questions and make valid points. We agree the best practice is to reuse plates and dishes and clean them using an energy-saving dishwasher. As you can tell by Editor-in-Chief Jeremy White’s commentary in the June issue, he isn’t a big fan of pizzerias slapping their food on cheap paper plates!
Margherita: I’ve seen lots of Margherita pizzas lately. Some have red onions, others have garlic and one even used parsley. These variations might be delicious, but they ignore the original use of the term, which emerged in the late 19th century. Long before the pizza with mozzarella and tomato was named for the queen in 1889, nobody ate this dish but the poor. Mozzarella was very expensive and garlic extremely cheap, so the two were never combined or the strong garlic would have trampled the delicate creaminess of mozzarella. The original pizza Margherita, still served all over Naples today, consists of crushed tomatoes, fresh basil and fresh mozzarella. You can achieve plenty of variation within those borders, but anything additional deserves a different name.
Deep Dish: I may not be from Chicago, but I get riled up whenever I see a pizza falsely described as deep dish. Although it falls under the category of ‘pan pizza,’ a deep-dish designation requires more than a mere baking vessel. It starts with a dense, crumbly base and continues with a layer of low-moisture mozzarella. Toppings come next and the pie gets finished with a crowning layer of rich tomato sauce. I see lots of thick, bready pizzas labeled as deep dish, but the truth is that this style’s crust is more biscuit than bread. Just because your pizza is thick, it doesn’t necessarily make it a deep dish.
Grandma: This one’s new to the pizzeria scene, but it seems to be spreading from its origins on Long Island. Before the days of pizza stones for every pair of newlyweds, homemade pizza consisted of rectangular pies baked in cookie sheets. The dough is stretched into the pan and immediately topped and baked, unlike a Sicilian pizza, which is typically proofed, baked, topped and re-baked. The name comes from the fact that Italian grandmothers often baked this pie, topping it with light portions of cheese, sauce and garlic. The common error with this one is that it’s often used as a synonym for pizza Margherita. Stop the madness and give Grandma some respect!
Fresh Mozzarella: There’s a big difference between mozzarella that just came in from the distributor and cheese that was pulled recently from curd. One is not necessarily better than the other, but they are certainly two different products on a physical level. The FDA defines mozzarella as having 45 percent milkfat content and at least 52 percent moisture content. Low-moisture mozzarella has similar milkfat content, but ranges from 45 – 51 percent moisture content. Because of its higher moisture content, fresh mozzarella tends to respond better to high heat ovens whereas low moisture works better on a deck. I’ve seen the term “fresh mozzarella” used on menus and signage when the cheese was clearly not what the FDA defines as such.
I don’t expect you to immediately change the wording on your menu, but as food media continues to expose your customers to deeper culinary vocabulary, you might want to act now to prevent customer confusion.
Scott Wiener owns and operates Scott’s Pizza Tours in New York City.
Photos by Rick Daugherty
A good ad is priceless, but can a price-less ad be good? Most of us would be hesitant to run an ad campaign without a price point, and rightly so. Research firm Phoenix Marketing International finds that the inclusion of specific pricing is a key factor of high performing quick service restaurant advertising. Their research states, “In addition to strong creative, what differentiates these top ads from the rest is their ability to weave in a value message with appetizing food items and a positive dining experience. In contrast, most of the ads without price points proved to be weaker performers, even if they showcased premium, appealing food items and conveyed a pleasant dining experience.”
When would it be appropriate to promote a product without specifying a price point? There are particular instances such as when promoting a novelty product. Take, for example, the BIG ONE offered by Fox’s Pizza Den of Indiana, Pennsylvania. This 52, slice 30-inch round pizza was promoted by a radio ad for several weeks just emphasizing the uniqueness of the product and intentionally neglecting to mention the nearly $40 price tag. Owner Earl Miller Jr. did his own market research and was pleasantly surprised to report that sales of the BIG ONE tripled over the campaign period. Miller says, “People ask, ‘How much is that pizza?’ We get that a lot, which also means that people are still money wise and cautious.” Ads with no pricing are common in artisan pizzerias, which highlight the authentic dining experience and also get results.
Are there times when price is the selling point? Unfortunately, we have seen many cases where pizza is treated as a commodity and people flock to the lowest priced distributor. This does no favors for the pizza industry or to one of America’s favorite foods. However, price used as a selling point can be a great way to introduce a new product. Price in the form of a value menu can also be an option to drive customers to your store — a savvy operator will
always keep close watch on prime costs when executing such strategies.
As stated by Miller, people are cautious with their money and look for quality with a value price tag. Phoenix Marketing International conveys that when executed correctly, value messaging can work even with higher price points. This is good news for most operators who deal with food cost in the range of 30 percent. These operators compete on factors such as quality ingredients, convenience, service and the overall customer experience. Value is born from the combination of these factors and a higher price point is thus validated.
Is there a situation when price should not be mentioned? No, but it must always be defended. I would concur with Milton Hershey, “Give them quality. That’s the best kind of advertising.”
Scott Anthony is a Fox’s Pizza Den franchisee in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. He is a monthly contributor to Pizza Today and a frequent guest speaker at Pizza Expo.
Little did I know how much easier it was to dream the American dream than to actually live it. I have heard my entire life: “do what you love and you will never work a day in your life.” Well I love pizza, so it made sense to me to make a living making pizza.
I have an old high school buddy who has done well for himself as an entrepreneur. So I sought his advice on becoming a business owner myself. I began the conversation thinking I knew as much as I needed to know to start my place. After all I have run big box stores with teams as large as 500 and sales volumes as high as $75 million annually. I figured after all that being my own boss would be pretty simple.
One hour into the conversation I had created the biggest work list ever:
- Create a business plan.
- Get a real idea of food costs. (The first time I went to the local store to buy ingredients I spent $75 and made two pies. My wife nearly kyboshed the whole plan that day).
- Do some real market research. (This requires a whole lot more than ordering from every pizza place in a five-mile radius of my home.)
- LLC or corporation?
- Equipment costs (buy or lease? New or used?).
- Leasing a space (location, location, location…).
- Construction costs.
- Payroll planning and budgeting.
The list literally went on and on and on.
The sad fact was and is that becoming a pizza entrepreneur is very much like having your first child. No matter how many classes you take or how many books you read, you will never be as prepared as you had hoped and nothing is as effective as a little experience. As the father of five, I am hoping the same rules also apply to the business: work real hard, love ’em a lot and in the end it’s going to be okay.
After I completed the list and did my research, I really felt like I was ready to begin. Perhaps a better way of stating that is that I couldn’t wait to begin and so I jumped in and began making mistakes right away.
- I prematurely signed a lease.
- I set unreasonable timelines.
- I made ridiculous errors in the permit process.
I began the work of making the dream a reality in October of 2011. As I write this, it is June 2012 and I am praying and hoping we will finally be able to proudly serve the community of Wheaton, Illinois, a deliciously affordable pizza in the summer of this year. But I have learned from my experiences. I believe I am a better man and businessperson for the past year.
Today my list is growing bigger and bigger every day.
I need to:
- Develop a smart phone app.
- Finalize recipes and my menu.
- Select vendors.
- Complete construction.
- Hire and train the team.
- Focus on food safety.
In the end, I have learned a new level of respect for the men and women who came before me, paving the way in NY style and Chicago style, breadsticks and garlic knots, Caesar salad and antipasto salad.
I have found that the pizza community is a great big loving family, one that I am hungry to be a part of. I am getting generous amounts of advice from everyone I meet.
In the end, I can’t wait to meet and serve my customers. My appetite for pizza is bigger today than ever — and I can’t wait to see the look on their face when they taste my pies.
Photos by Josh Keown
“So if I don’t pay attention to my expenses, I just don’t make money,” Lanz says.
In the margin-tight restaurant world of volatile commodity prices and ongoing overhead costs, labor remains one of the few business costs an operator can moderate.
To be certain, rising labor costs remain a significant concern to pizzeria operators and the livelihood of their outlets, particularly as wage regulations jump. Last January, eight states raised their minimum wage floor; meanwhile, 2013 will deliver additional rate hikes to operators. Such raises often put upward wage pressure on other positions within the restaurant.
According to the National Restaurant Association, labor costs now represent about one-third of sales in America’s full-service restaurants, outdistancing food and beverage costs. If labor costs are not managed through scheduling, planning and monitoring, experts warn, the expense can sprint away from operators and weaken the profit line.
“If you have too many people on the clock, it’s like deciding to pay the landlord a higher rent; each cuts off the bottom line,” says Dave Pavesic, a former Italian restaurant operator who spent 26 years on faculty at Georgia State University’s School of Hospitality.
While the temptation for Lanz and other operators is to run a leaner workforce and toil every possible hour themselves, such short-term relief often places pressures on areas such as service and productivity, thereby threatening to unleash long-term impact upon sales and traffic.
“If you cut on labor, odds are good the service or quality will suffer and that can become a vicious cycle,” Illinois-based restaurant consultant Izzy Kharasch says.
In the restaurant world, where it’s easy to be consumed by routine, set labor patterns can be disastrous. Operators will over or under-schedule staff to maintain harmony, effectively ignoring the fact that sales may dip or rise by the day, week or season.
“The ones who control labor costs best know and monitor their numbers,” says Jennifer Wiebe of SpeedLine Solutions, a Washington-based provider of restaurant POS software. She adds that labor savings come from building a schedule that’s “reflective of labor targets.”
To that end, Lanz utilizes software tools that allow him to compare sales to labor costs as he compiles upcoming schedules. He’ll review past sales on POS reports and plan his labor accordingly. As he inputs schedules into the POS system, the software will display his labor costs and allow him to pivot as necessary.
“Tools save time and time is something you can never have enough of if you’re running your own restaurant,” Lanz says.
Operational and managerial changes can also help restrain labor costs.
Operators who understand the production of their products also should know how many employees are needed. Then, adopting an assembly versus preparation mindset, the staff should be able to work more efficiently. “Be prepared and organized for the volume of business you anticipate,” Pavesic advises.
Kharasch, meanwhile, encounters numerous operations that don’t have a time clock, which, he argues, deteriorates accountability.
For those who do require employees to “clock in,” time thievery is not uncommon. Employees might punch in early or linger before punching out. At one recent operation Kharasch visited, employees “milking” the clock was costing the restaurant $30,000 a year. “We’re in a pennies business and pennies add up,” Kharasch says, adding that operators cannot be afraid to “cut people loose during slow times.”
Yet, the most important labor cost-controlling tool, many operators and HR pros agree, is hiring the right people for the right job from the start, training them appropriately, and investing in them to heighten retention.
“Having the right people in place is the beginning and end of this conversation,” Lanz says, who subscribes to the well-adopted philosophy of hiring for personality and training for skill.
Kharasch suggests operators expand the horizons and skill sets of current employees. For instance, train someone on the register to serve tables or train the dishwasher to be a line cook.
“Look at the people you have and train them to do the next thing,” he says. “They’ll save labor costs by being a more versatile employee, but you’ll also be giving them confidence and improve retention by investing in their development.”
Kharasch advises operators to avoid looking exclusively at dollars and cents, a rather narrow-minded view that ignores the value of retention and someone who knows the business. In one recent case, Kharasch encountered a restaurant riding 11 consecutive months of losses. Within 60 days, the restaurant eliminated its workforce turnover and turned a profit.
Says Lanz: “Efficient workers who know your system help you control labor costs more than anything.” u
Chicago-based writer Daniel P. Smith has covered business issues and best practices for a variety of trade publications, newspapers, and magazines.
CUTTING LABOR AT THE POS: A STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE
Jennifer Wiebe of SpeedLine Solutions offers operators step-by-step instruction on how to utilize a POS system to control labor costs.
First, set a labor goal and plan a schedule to meet it:
1. Review the sales forecast and analyze the breakdown by daypart, order type and hour.
2. Copy the previous week’s schedule in the POS and adjust it to meet targets. Set staff availability for ease of scheduling and overhead for accurate labor costs.
3. Set restrictions for overtime and teen staff to comply with labor code.
Second, track labor costs throughout each shift:
1. Set limits on early and late clock-ins. Force a manager override for any exceptions.
2. Use fingerprint security to eliminate time clock abuse.
3. Track pay rates for staff performing multiple jobs.
Finally, audit labor performance:
1. Monitor labor dashboard metrics and send staff home during slow times.
2. Take a shift snapshot to review labor metrics.
3. Track breaks and overtime for labor audits as well as manger overrides.
4. Export time clock data for payroll to reduce paperwork and accounting costs.
Dr. Zia Siddiqi, director of quality systems at Orkin, says the pest control company has experienced a 25-percent increase in calls in recent months. Pests that are expected to be more problematic in 2012 are ants, flies and rodents, he adds.
But, pests don’t have to be a problem in your restaurant. It’s up to operators and managers to take a proactive role in preventing insects and rodents from making themselves at home.
Not taking preventative measures can result in dire consequences on your business. Health departments have strict policies when it comes to pests. Gretchen Boyd, Environmental Health Supervisor at the Louisville Metro Health Department in Kentucky says, “How our system works is that activity observed of a rodent, insect or pest is a critical violation and that would cause your facility to fail that inspection.” A facility that fails may have an allotted time to correct the violation — in Louisville’s case, it’s seven to 10 days.
If an infestation has taken up residence, Boyd says they close the restaurant on the spot. “We would require them generally to clean and sanitize, to come up with some kind of pest control means and we do not want to observe any on our follow up visit,” she says, adding that an operator must provide documentation of what measures have been taken.
Many operators contract a pest control company to treat their facilities on a monthly basis. Some clients approach pest control with only pesticides treatments, Siddiqi says. “Things have shifted from that angle,” he continues. “If the restaurant owners are not taking care of elimination of conducive conditions — sanitation, building maintenance, housekeeping — then we are not going to win the war.” Integrated pest management (IPM) programs have become a popular mode to keep pests at bay.
“Integrated pest management — I’m applying all kinds of strategies,” Siddiqi says. “I’m identifying, I’m monitoring, I’m establishing my threshold, and then I am making recommendations, first for non-chemical and then
Chuck Landaw, owner of Doughy Joey’s Peetza Joynt in Waterloo, Iowa, says he has a strong relationship with his local pest control company, which uses an IPM approach.
“I can call them anytime if I have a problem,” he says.
“He will tell me what they are and how to attack the problem.” His service ranges $50 to $100 per month depending on what is needed.
Doughy Joeys is blocks from a river so Landaw pays attention to warning signs of insects, particularly ants and gnats. With two locations serving draft beer — eight beers on draft at one and 24 beers at another — Landaw has noticed that gnats are attracted to the yeast in beer drains. His crew applies cleaning solutions down the beer drains regularly and increases the cleaning in the spring, summer and fall.
Jason Ransom, co-owner of The Dish Famous Stuffed Pizza in Liberty, Missouri, also has a pest inspector come in once a month. “The inspector has a list and is checking for things that he thinks are critical,” he says. The inspector also reviews the list with the manager on duty.
Ransom says keeping pests under control comes down to a few things. “The key is to make sure you have a secure perimeter, your restaurant stays dry and a pest program is in place.”
- Keep the back door closed.
- Use a flashlight and search for cracks and openings inside and outside and seal them.
- Do not allow any standing water, even sitting in mop buckets or under ice machines.
- Inspect all deliveries for insect or rodent stowaways.
- Clean, clean, and clean surfaces; drains; equipment; floors; walls; and behind, over and under everything regularly.
- Be sure your air handling system is producing positive pressure (Flies will not cross a velocity of 1,600 cubic-feet per minute).
- Keep lights away from the building, doors and outdoor seating, instead put lights in lawn or on posts and project them at building, signage, etc.
- Allow two to three feet of space between trees, shrubs, branches or leaves and the building.
- Have garbage removed twice a week in warmer weather and spray out the cans or dumpster after each removal.
Denise Greer is associate editor at Pizza Today.
Photos by Rick Daugherty
A: There are a number of things that you can do to set yourself apart from the other pizzerias in your area, here are a few of them:
While the traditional pizza might be round, try a different shape. Square and rectangular are some commonly seen shapes, but one that you don’t see all that often is what I call the “free” shape. This is where the pizza shape is irregular, looking more like it was made by a novice. It reminds me of the time when I worked in a bakery and we made what we called our “homemade” cookies. They were, in reality, our regular cookies but we continually adjusted the weight of the cookies as they were being cut and deposited, resulting in a package with all different sizes of cookies. We also sold them by the pound to make them different in the eyes of the consumer. They were a great success, so just changing the shape of your pizza can make it stand out/apart from the others.
Another approach is to appeal to the concept of healthy eating. Think of offering pizzas made with whole-wheat flour, or a portion of the flour as whole-wheat rather than the traditional all-white flour. Remember, not all whole-wheat flour is brown. There is also whole white-wheat flour, which has a more tan or creamy color than what we normally think of whole-wheat flour as being, and the flavor is different, too. It’s not as bitter, but rather much more mellow tasting than the normal whole-wheat flours made from hard red wheat varieties, so it has a much wider appeal, especially to children. This is the flour that is being used to replace white flour in many of our school lunch programs.
If you opt to go this direction, think about offering a reduced-cholesterol pizza using a cheese blend made from 50 percent of your regular mozzarella cheese and 50 percent of a cholesterol free cheese analog, combined with a poultry meat topping and some veggies for toppings. This isn’t a bad pizza by anyone’s standards.
One of my personal favorites for a different pizza presentation revolves around thin-crust pizzas, which seem to be getting ever more popular. We take a thin crust pizza skin and very lightly brush it with olive oil and then add fresh chopped, sliced or pressed garlic, followed by several leaves of fresh green basil randomly placed over the dough skin. This is then followed by slices of fresh tomato or well-drained tomato filets (no sauce as we know it, please). Then dress the dough skin to the order and top with torn pieces of mozzarella cheese (no shredded or diced). I like to follow this by a sprinkling of shredded Parmesan and Romano cheese before sending it off to the oven. The use of torn cheese pieces rather than shredded or diced gives this pizza a whole different outward appearance, and the use of fresh tomato or tomato filets along with the fresh, green leaf basil gives the pizza a different flavor than you will find at any of the box pizzerias.
While many operators have experimented with adding herbs, cheese or ground pepperoni to the dough to make a uniquely flavored crust, these have only been marginally successful on the whole. It seems that they can be used to produce a uniquely flavored crust for use as a special offering, but acceptance appears to soon wane as the customers look for other flavor options. More recently, we have seen cheese-filled crusts, where the edge of the pizza is formed with a cheese filling, but even these have only been marginally successful.
I’ve seen a lot of interest in developing pizzas based on different types of seafood toppings which can be big sellers for those taking the time to develop a good, economically priced seafood pizza. The easiest way to make a good seafood pizza is to start with a thin-crust pizza skin. Apply a light application of Alfredo sauce followed by a sprinkling of dried dill weed and a few pieces of sliced or diced garlic. Add pieces of shrimp and raw fish. Any firm flesh fish works well. For a 12-inch pizza you will need to use about four ounces of mixed seafood and then add a few slices of red onion and some sliced fresh tomato. Finish with a very light application (about three ounces) of shredded mozzarella cheese and 1 ounce of shredded Parmesan cheese, and bake the same as your regular thin crust pizzas. This makes for a reasonably priced, flavorful seafood pizza that will stand apart from that of most competition.
To help in keeping your menu fresh and exciting, I like to recommend that you have a weekly special pizza that is just a little different from other mainstream pizzas. This will give you something to flag your customers with, and hopefully give your customers something to talk about, keeping your pizzeria in their immediate plans for their next pizza dining experience. u
Tom Lehmann is a director at the American Institute of Baking in Manhattan, Kansas.
Photo by Josh Keown
In Modena, Italy, aceto balsamico is as precious as liquid gold and has as many users that look to it as much for its medicinal properties as its use in the kitchen. In cellars all over Modena it is not unusual to find kegs of vinegar that have been aging for 60 or 70 years. Aceto balsamico was such a precious commodity it was given as special gifts and as part of a bride’s dowry.
Unfortunately, the unparalleled popularity of balsamic vinegar over the past 20 years has spawned imitations that are weak cousins to the original Aceto balsamico di Modena. The difference in flavor and taste between a top quality aged aceto balsamico and younger versions of “Modena-style vinegar” is like, say, comparing Beluga caviar from the sturgeon to whitefish caviar.
Quality of balsamic vinegar ranges from what is called tradizionale to riserva (must be at least 12 years old), and extra vecchia (must be at least 25 years old). Obviously, the older vinegars are the best and truly represent the quality and unique flavor of what this vinegar is all about.
In pizzerias, balsamic vinegar has a variety of uses –– from drizzles on appetizers, to salad dressings and as finishes on pizza. The current trend toward artisan pizza lends itself well to balsamic vinegar –– we’ve seen it reduced alongside pear, prosciutto and gorgonzola and atop pizzas with chicken and garlic.
Give these recipes a try for artisan flair:
PANZANELLA CON CECI (BREAD AND CHICK-PEA SALAD)
Yield: 4 to 6 servings (Scale up in direct proportion)
3 cups 2- or 3-day-old Italian bread, cut into ½-inch cubes
1 pound (8-10) very ripe plum tomatoes, cut into ½-inch chunks
1 tablespoon drained capers
½ cup finely chopped red onion
½ cup finely chopped celery
1 cup drained canned chickpeas, rinsed
10 sprigs flat-leaf parsley
1 clove garlic, peeled
1 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
8-10 leaves fresh basil (to taste), torn
½ teaspoon salt
4-5 grinds of black pepper
Soak the bread in a bowl of cold water to cover for 15 minutes. Remove it from the bowl and squeeze it well with your hands. Discard the water.
In a large serving bowl, combine the bread, tomatoes, capers, onion, celery and chickpeas. Set aside.
In a food processor fitted with the steel blade, combine the parsley, garlic, oregano and vinegar. Process for 15 to 20 seconds to combine.
With the machine running, add the olive oil in a steady stream and process until smooth. Drizzle the dressing over the salad, add the basil, and toss well to combine.
Season with the salt and pepper to taste. Allow the salad to sit at room temperature for 45 minutes to an hour before serving.
PROSCIUTTO AND MOZZARELLA PIZZA WITH CARAMELIZED ONIONS
Yield: One pizza
12 ounces red onion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons plus 1/4 cup olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar, packed
4 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 cup mozzarella cheese
2 ounces shredded prosciutto (or thinly sliced)
Freshly chopped thyme for garnish
In a heavy saucepan, sauté onion in 2 tablespoons of olive oil until softened. Add Worcestershire sauce, balsamic vinegar, brown sugar and garlic. Cook until liquid evaporates and onions are caramelized (can be made ahead and held).
Roll out dough ball. Brush shell with remaining olive oil. Top with mozzarella cheese, shredded prosciutto, bell pepper and onions. Bake until cheese browns. Top with fresh thyme and serve immediately.
Pat Bruno is Pizza Today’s resident chef and a regular contributor. He is the former owner and operator of a prominent Italian cooking school in Chicago and is a food critic for the Chicago Sun-Times.
Photos by Josh Keown
What’s the best plan of attack to handle the inevitable roadblocks determined to mess with your end-date? “I smile as I say this, but find a pro!” says Matt Vetter, president of River’s Edge Project Management in Brighton, Michigan. “Unless you are working with a trusted contractor with whom you have done business with before, and were very happy with them, don’t take chances on this part. You have to have someone on your side through the entire development process; someone who is not going to be looking to take short cuts in order to boost their own profit, but will be watching to make sure no one else is. We talk with owners every day who have been burned by inaccurate budgeting and unrealistic schedules –– the fees you will pay to hire on a consultant or owner’s representative will more often than not be paled in comparison to the savings in time, stress, and of course your money.”
John Blatchford, operations manager of ProMaster Home Repair & Handyman in Milford, Ohio, advises operators to do their homework. “A restaurateur should worry if a contractor blithely says that they can do everything in a certain timeframe for a low budget. If the restaurateur goes with the standard ‘three-bid’ system and picks the lowest price, this can be problematic for a variety of reasons,” he says. “The best thing a restaurateur (or anyone, really) can do is immense research upfront to ensure the quality of the people they are hiring which will save them in the long run.”
When looking for a professional, Blatchford recommends operators review:
- The Better Business Bureau
- local state business filings
- online review sites such as Angie’s List and Google Reviews,
- verifying the company has worker’s compensation
- checking with the attorney general’s office for complaints.
“An owner needs to identify a general contractor, general manager or project manager first — do a qualifications-based selection instead of a cost-based selection,” says Brandon Philpot, president of A2i Creative Building Solutions in Cincinnati, Ohio. “It’s a complex process even for a small space and owners need expertise up front to help them through the process. In the end, the expertise will help manage the end-date.”
Philpot says operators should interview a potential hire to establish trust.
“In situations where it is an individual restaurant, talk with the members of the community who have been in the same situation and ask, ‘Who did you use?’ and ‘How was your experience?’ Philpot says. “As for recommendations from your design professional — ‘Who do you trust?’ This can help generate a short list of contractors you can interview.”
Even when an operator finds trustworthy professionals, make sure not to jump into the construction phase. Carlos Ardavin, Jr., CEO of Matrix Construction Group, Inc., in Miami, Florida, recommends getting the team of professionals working together before construction begins.
“For a first time client, the expectation is to hire an architect to design it, and then hire a contractor with the best price and then, everything stops. And the owner asks why?” Ardavin says. To eliminate this, Ardavin suggests involving the contractor while the architect is designing the concept, adding that the ideal relationship is architect-contractor-owner. By involving the contractor and engineers during the design process, he says the owner can save money.
“Put the architect and the contractor in a meeting and see how they work and set up a weekly team review meeting,” Ardavin says.
Once an operator has his team in place, he should set up upfront contracts.“And the best form that this can take is for the restaurateur to define what would be unacceptable to leave out should time or budget become an issue. The necessary items including safety and structure of course are primary tasks, but the owner really should prioritize the tasks or items that will be completed towards the end of the project such as murals or lighting or trim type stuff,” Blatchford says. “If there are any of these that are essential to the feel or flow of the business then the restaurateur should make this very apparent at the outset so that no problems arise down the road and that if necessary, some smaller objects can be left out or completed later again depending on time and budget.”
Operators need to include their two cents in the budget.
“Review the budget and question anything that may be abnormal, underestimated or have potential for a cost overrun. An accurate budget will include expenses to be incurred before work starts, such as permits and fees, and post-job costs such as clean-up and close-out costs. Asking a contractor about previous budgets and if they were met is a great way to ensure a more accurate estimate,” says Andrew Schrage, co-owner of Money Crashers Personal Finance. “Lastly, to ensure an accurate, realistic estimated timeline, insist that the contractor implements a critical path method (CPM) schedule. This will result in clearer lines of communication, and it provides a benchmark to track progress in real time.”
Also, don’t forget to budget for time.Operators need to recognize all of the potential time-sucking roadblocks, such as negotiating leases, complying with zoning regulations, obtaining building permits, passing health and city department inspections, coordinating utilities and dealing with problems of existing HVAC systems or equipment, as well as completing construction.
“Plan for the lease process; that can be six to nine months once you find the space to close a lease,” Philpot says. “Permitting time has doubled. Ninety days even before you can start construction and construction can then be another 30 to 60 days. As the other things get pushed back, construction time gets squeezed and then, any problems that come up during the construction phase get amplified.”
DeAnn Owens is a freelance journalist living in Ohio. She specializes in features and human interest stories.
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