PHOTO BY JOSH KEOWN
Patio dining. Some restaurant operators say their business wouldn’t be the same without it. Barbara Reeve, general manager for the Tivoli Restaurant in New Milford, Connecticut, is one of them. The three-year-old restaurant sits right on the large New Milford Green. Inside, there’s seating for 90, and the covered and screened-in patio (the screens can be rolled up in good weather) adds another 50 seats. There’s also a wrought-iron gazebo next to the patio that holds 15. Open — and busy — year round, the patio’s more popular than the inside, says Reeve.
“Especially in the spring and summer,” she says. “People call ahead of time to reserve patio seating. We’ve actually had people leave because there wasn’t outside seating available, even when a table was open inside.”
Mattie Cardenaz, general manager for Pizza Solo in San Luis Obispo, California, also describes their patio as having big appeal. Located in front of the restaurant, with seating for about 25, it’s the first thing passersby see.
“Patio dining is completely effective in getting random new faces into the restaurant,” says Cardenaz. “People may not have been planning to stop in, but they see the outdoor dining and they come in.”
But it’s not a matter of “build it and they will come.” Without the proper amount of thought, offering patio dining can work against you, says Ron Santibanez, CEO of Profit Line Consulting, Inc. in Moreno Valley, California.
“Having outdoor seating is a big advantage; there are a lot of pluses to patio dining,” says Santibanez, whose company works with restaurants across the country. “But for some reason it seems to be an operational issue for many restaurants.”
The biggest downfall? Not paying sufficient attention to an area that — unless easily visible from the inside of the restaurant - is too often out of sight, out of mind, says Santibanez. The consequences of this neglect are tables littered with leftover food, overflowing trash receptacles, paper blowing about the patio, and irritated, overlooked customers.
This is less likely to happen during peak times when (hopefully anyway) there’s staff assigned specifically to the patio, he says. The biggest danger comes during off-peak times when it’s likelier that employees will have to split their attention between inside and outside areas. The remedy for this? Training and establishing specific requirements mandating how often the patio will be checked, says Santibanez.
“You do have to train to keep it at top of mind, especially if it isn’t visible from the restaurant,” says Becky Black, senior vice president with Shakey’s USA, Inc., headquartered in Alhambra, California. The chain has 65 sites; five offer patio seating.
“You need to integrate the patio into staffing and deployment; someone has to be accountable for it,” Black continues. “It’s important for managers to demonstrate this front-of-mind by moving inside and outside, speaking to the guests and reminding staff.”
Black says they decided to give patios a try, looking for a way to increase capacity without increasing rent and common-area maintenance fees, since the patio is usually not part of the rented square-footage of a space (their patio capacity is typically 50 to 60 people).
There’s another benefit, she adds. “Shakey’s is a gathering place,” Blacks explains. “We wanted to be able to accommodate groups and to be able to segregate them from the general population. When dealing with large parties, the patio is a definite draw.
“For small groups, outside seating isn’t as much fun,” she continues. “They can feel a little disconnected from what’s going on inside, because it’s such a group experience inside.”
Disconnect isn’t an issue for Pizza Solo; its year-round patio is easily viewed from the inside and sits out in the open. In fact, part of it isn’t even sectioned off from the sidewalk, says Cardenaz, adding that it isn’t uncommon for non-customers to grab a chair for a bit of people watching. That aside, there are other challenges that come with this kind of seating arrangement.
For example, she has to train employees on city and fire regulations, and to monitor the outside with these in mind, since customers will often move the tables around, potentially running afoul of these restrictions.
“We also serve beer and wine and the alcohol can’t go beyond a certain point,” she explains. “I have to constantly remind the staff to tell the customers and to watch to make sure this doesn’t happen.”
Patios and alcohol can prove a troublesome combination, Black says. “As a restaurant you’re accountable for what happens. With alcohol, you need safeguards in place to ensure nothing is happening with alcohol that shouldn’t, such as being handed over a fence or underage drinking.”
To combat this, Shakey’s has installed live camera monitors they watch to make certain that guests behave.
It’s important to pay attention to the details, says Black. Make sure the furniture’s comfortable. Plumb for heating rather than using butane tanks; if these run out of fuel mid-meal, the guest experience can be ruined. “You need to make sure guests feel it was worth it because the prices are the same inside and out,” she says. “There’s no patio discount.”
Guests can linger longer on patios than you’d like, reducing turns and impacting wait times. You don’t want to rush customers, but you do want to maintain a good pace. Barbara Reeve says during peak times she assigns only experienced waitstaff to the patio. They can handle a fast pace, expertly tend to customers, and keep things moving along.
Other speedy strategies? Pay attention to the patio’s layout and ease of access, says business consultant Ron Santibanez. Consider:
Are the doors wide enough for servers to easily get through?
How heavy are they?
What kind of obstacles might the furniture present? For example, if you use umbrellas, do servers have to duck under them to interact with customers or to avoid eye-level (and hazardous) prongs?
What about bussing stations and trash receptacles? Their location makes a difference in terms of quick clean up and keeping the area inviting and guest-ready.
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.
PHOTO BY RICK DAUGHERTY
On the busiest Friday night ever our pizza oven died. It became completely inoperable. We lost tons of business and many of our customers left disappointed and probably visited our competition to get their pizza that night. We are trying to figure out a good way to solve this problem. Any suggestions? I’m a recovering pizzeria owner. My place was so far from civilization I had to create backup plans for all kinds of contingencies. Since your oven, mixer, refrigeration and telephones are absolutely vital to keep cash flow and customer satisfaction high, pre-planning for breakdowns is crucial. Knowing that things eventually break, I purchased backup repair items. If I were you, I would buy and stock the parts that most often fail in an oven. If you have a conveyor you may want to stock a drive motor, speed servo, chain belt repair kit, a few specialized electrical switches, fuses and any other items the manufacturer or repair service company recommends. Decks are much simpler. A pilot safety (every two years), thermostat, (every five years) and door opening assist springs (every ten years) are all you’ll need. Let’s not forget walk-in refrigerators. My town just went through a power outage. Half the businesses had power, the other half didn’t. If your location suffers through storms on a regular basis, I strongly recommend a backup generator. The propane models are my favorite. You don’t have to babysit the gas tanks and keep on refilling them every few hours. If you need gas to keep the generator running, how are you going to get topped off at the gas station that is out of power? Buy the biggest generator you can afford. It will pay for itself after it saves all of your refrigerated food from the dumpster and keeps your doors open. My biggest refrigeration problem was compressor failure. This only happened on the hottest weekend of the summer, when my repair man was at the lake and not answering his phone. I just hate being on a Food Death Watch, insurance or not. That’s why I eventually had a walk-in cooler built from scratch. With the exception of the heavy duty door, everything was custom made. My carpenter fabricated it for the same money as factory made. The real difference was I had redundancy in the cooling systems. Instead of the single, just barely big enough compressor and evaporator, I had two installed –– one at each end of the 20 foot box. Either one of them could cool to 35 degrees in a perfect ambient temperature and humidity. The chances of both of them going down at the same time were pretty slim. Each compressor worked half as hard as it was engineered for, thus extending the life cycle and reducing electricity costs. I also had the compressor motors wired to a cheap programmable time clock. During the hot, humid days and nights of summer my evaporator coils often frosted over, eliminating cold air circulation and raising the internal temp of the cooler. I programmed the timers to cut the juice to the compressors in the middle of the night and let the coils blow dry. I did this one compressor at a time. u
An easy way to see behind the coils and look for frost build up is to buy a large press and stick mirror and position it so you can have ‘eyes’ behind the unit. Don’t trust the thermometer near the door of the box. Buy a large outside home-style one and screw it to the walk-in’s interior wall. Make sure it’s right in your face as you walk in. It will be a well spent $9.
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.
Recently I visited a local independent shop for lunch with a co-worker. I typically hit this place several times a year: it’s one of my favorite pizzerias in Louisville, Kentucky, where Pizza Today is based. Known for its oversized slices, this particular parlor serves straight-up, old school pizza, the kind you fold in half and eat as the grease races down your arm.
As you might imagine, this pizzeria offers a strictly no-frills environment. Paying no mind to presentation, the slices are served on a floppy paper plate. Plastic forks are available en masse near the soda fountain — help yourself if you need one.
While this is all well and dandy for a counter-service slice haunt, I find that it leaves something to be desired in a full-service establishment. You see, the pizzeria in question actually has servers that take the order, deliver the food, refill drinks, etc. To me, full-service implies a better customer experience. That experience isn’t exactly fulfilled when the server sits a paper plate in front of me.
I understand limiting the number of dishes that need to be cleaned daily. And part of the joy of many pizza styles is that you get to revert to childhood and eat with your hands. Try eating a calzone with your hands, though. Not pretty. Which brings me to my point. On the quick lunch with my co-worker I opted for the calzone over the slice. Have you ever tried cutting a calzone with a cheap plastic knife and eating it with a cheap plastic fork? By the time I was finished I had a bevy of broken “utensils” and one heck of a messy paper plate. While the food was delicious, the experience was not. Why not invest in your business and boost your image with better dinnerware and actual plates? For those of you still going the paper and plastic route, what justification do you have for doing so? What do your customers say about it? Do you see them struggling to cut into their food? Wouldn’t real utensils heighten the experience and give your pizzeria more credibility? I’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter. Hit me up on Twitter and voice your opinion (@PizzaToday) or e-mail me at the address below.
Jeremy White, editor in chief
Everyone loves an Irish Pub and everyone loves pizza. It’s a perfect combination of two favorites. Also, we actually use Guinness in our dough recipe. As far as how the Irish Pub/New York Pizza combo has been received here in Honolulu, we have received a few “Top Pizza” and “Top Bar” accolades since opening in 2008. So, I guess people like the idea. Lunch is about one-third of our business. We Tweet our specials every morning right when we open. (J.J. Dolan’s has more than 2,600 followers.) Among others, we often have a smoked kalua pork, cabbage and Maui sweet onion pie, drizzled with a locally made spicy BBQ sauce, as one of our specials. FYI — Kalua pork is pork, commonly wrapped in banana leaves and then slow cooked in an Imu (underground oven). Other “local” toppings we use are SPAM, Portuguese sausage and, of course, an abundance of locally farmed vegetables and meats ... and yes, we do add pineapple to our pizza sometimes. We are right on the edge of the downtown financial district, so a lot of our patrons walk to our place. In addition to customers from surrounding businesses, there are a lot of residents that live in our immediate area, as well as a university. That said, people do drive into the area specifically to come to J.J. Dolan’s and to visit the Arts District and Chinatown, and when they do, there is a fair amount of nearby parking available. Events like First Friday affect our business hugely. First Friday brings thousands of people into the area every month from all over the island. (First Friday is a monthly event in downtown Honolulu with art exhibits, galleries, shops, entertainment and restaurants.) In fact, all the businesses in Chinatown and the Arts District benefit enormously from the First Friday Gallery Walk. Not only do we own a small business in the Arts District, but I am also the president of the Arts District Merchants Association. So, our interest in the monthly Gallery Walk extends beyond our own personal success.
PHOTO BY RICK DAUGHERTY
Opening the second Pizzeria Piccola location, at Mitchell International Airport in Milwaukee last month, was a success — despite enduring a smaller footprint and catering to a new audience. That’s because the brand was firmly in place.
Despite having just 25 seats, the new location in Concourse C is reminiscent of the two-story original in Wauwatosa (a Milwaukee suburb), which has sit-down seating, an outdoor patio and a home-y feel. It opened in 2003.
“Pretty much every time I’m there I run into some of our customers who are flying in and out,” says John Wise, director of operations for The Bartolotta Restaurant Group, which owns Pizzeria Piccola. “They appreciate having good food options at the airport.”
Locations for pizzerias that are on college campuses, in airports or within amusement parks or professional sports stadiums are usually leased by large companies, such as SSP America or Aramark. SSP America owns the new space inside Concourse C, yet it is staffed and operated by Pizzeria Piccola. “They gave Joe (Bartolotta, the restaurant group’s owner) total control on the design and the type of equipment that’s used,” says Wise. Ensuring a smooth opening, with as SouthSide Pizzeria located in the Chicago Midway Airport terminal When it comes to expansion, think outside the strip mall few kinks as possible, Wise put seasoned Bartolotta employees in charge of the new location. “There is a Margherita pizza at the airport and there is a Margherita pizza in Wauwatosa,” he says. “It should be the same Margherita.”
In addition to pizza, gelato (from Cold Spoons Gelato in Milwaukee) and cocktails are sold at both locations. Yet the airport location needed unique items for on-the-go customers. Breakfast sandwiches and a breakfast pizza were added. Pizza sizes and selections are the same. Duplicating the menu avoided the cost and time it would have taken to develop new offerings.
Streamlining the existing menu was a tactic that worked for Hungry Howie’s Pizza, however. The company operates locations inside three Detroit-area entertainment venues — Ford Field (home to the Detroit Lions), DTE Energy Musical Theatre and Palace of Auburn Hills (where the Detroit Pistons play, and circus performances and music concerts take place) — as well as Detroit Metro Airport.
“You need to serve them fast and you need to serve it hot,” says Jeff Rinke, Hungry Howie’s vice president of marketing. Just pepperoni and cheese pizzas are offered, and in an 8-inch size, although at the airport full-size pizzas with customized toppings can be ordered. The pizzeria normally offers a choice of eight crust flavors, but to keep things simple, only garlic-herb crust is offered at the entertainment venues and airport.
Hungry Howie’s Pizza hires consultants to do unannounced spot checks to ensure the quality is consistent. “We don’t want to enter into an agreement where we’re serving a product that’s not a true representation of our product,” says Rinke. “The product is 100-percent Hungry Howie’s. It’s all our ingredients, it’s our sauce, it’s our dough and it’s our cheese.”
John Arena, who is one of the three founders of Metro Pizza in Las Vegas, which has three sit-down locations, visits each of his two non-traditional locations (inside a casino and on a college campus) daily. Doing the prep work off-site, and at one location, avoids inconsistencies in flavor and quality. “There isn’t going to be a difference in the dough, because we’re pulling dough out of inventory,” he says.
Problems can erupt, however, when there is not good synergy and respect between the operator and the owner. Arena found that out the hard way. Four years ago a Metro Pizza location opened inside Boulder Station Casino. It didn’t last long: in December the casino took over the ownership and operation of Metro Pizza and shut it down.
“It succeeded to the point where the food and beverage department at the casino wanted to take it over,” he says. (Slices is the casino’s new pizzeria.) “You have to be very careful in how they write the lease — no pun intended, but they’re holding all the cards. Their justification is that the casino environment is always changing. With these casinos it’s all about relationships.”
Metro Pizza has operated inside Ellis Island Casino since 2000. The casino views the pizzeria as a partner — even going so far to include them in promotional opportunities. “They see us as an additional option for their guests. They’re a true collaborator and advocate for us,” says Arena. With just 200 square feet, the location earns around $1 million in sales each year. “It’s basically a counter with an oven,” says Arena.
For established pizzerias scouting non-traditional locations, “you have to evaluate what kind of match-up your customers are with what your brand represents,” he says. That Ellis Island customers are mostly locals that are already familiar with the Metro Pizza brand.
It’s that familiarity that has allowed Metro Pizza’s University of Nevada Las Vegas location, which opened in 2010, to prosper. “Many students grew up in Vegas. When they see us on campus we have credibility,” he says. Metro Pizza actually replaced the in-house brand, which lacked recognition with students and wasn’t raking in a profit.
Like Pizzeria Piccola, only employees familiar with the brand work in the satellite locations.
Space challenges aren’t as much of an issue as they appear, says Rinke. Each Hungry Howie’s Pizza store is normally 1,200 feet, but the non-traditional locations range in size from 400 to 800 square feet. The typical set-up is simply condensed, with a reduced-size oven, and a smaller area for food preparation. Some feature more than one stand (and at Ford Field some of those are shared with other vendors).
“The concourse is your lobby and you don’t need restroom facilities,” says Rinke. “There is also off-site storage.”
Kristine Hansen is a freelance writer living in Wisconsin.
Save the date: Slice of Hope 2012 takes place Friday, October 12.
Vermont has 204 pizzerias
iPad and Android tablet apps
are being downloaded at a rate of 100 per day.
Places That Rock // Black Sheep Coal Fired Pizza / Roots Homemade Pizza / Milo & Olive
600 Washington Ave. N.
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55401
Sitting in the middle of the Warehouse District in downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota, Black Sheep has its sights on the business market, even prominently displaying an “Office Delivery” tab on its homepage. A second location has opened in St. Paul. The coal-fired pizzeria made the Food Network’s “50 States, 50 Pizzas” list. Black Sheep sources local produce and makes its own fennel sausage and meatballs. The No. 5 features fennel sausage, hot salami, onions and cracked green olives for $20.50 (16-inch). A few enticing ingredients to build a pizza include goat cheese, oyster mushrooms, roasted red peppers and salt-packed anchovies. Olives roasted with rosemary and garlic ($7) makes a great appetizer option. Black Sheep tweets a daily market salad like the roasted beets with mache, feta and romesco.
1924 W. Chicago Ave.
Chicago, Illinois 60622
Roots pays homage to its home region with a Midwest-only beer list (70 beers) that features the likes of Goose Island, Bell’s and Metropolitan. Its appreciation for brew can be found in its dough, as well: Dark-roasted malt, the pizzeria’s website declares, gives the crust a richer, more complex flavor and extra tender/ chewy texture. Dubbed “Quad Cities” style — referring to communities west of Chicago on the Illinois/Iowa border, the pies are scissor-cut into strips. Highlighting Roots’ menu, the Taco pizza features taco-seasoned house made sausage, mozzarella and cheddar cheeses, shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes and taco-seasoned chips ($27 for a 16-inch). The house-made sausage can also be ordered as a corndog or wrapped in a blanket. Roots has created a root beer and serves it bottled for $3 or as a float for $6.
2723 Wilshire Blvd.
Santa Monica, California 90403
Milo & Olive is part pizzeria, part bakery. It blends a perfect combination: rustic pastries and fresh made breads — classic baguettes, three-cheese cheesebread and whole wheat potato bread — and wood fired artisan pizza featuring local farmers market produce and sustainable meats. The Spring Asparagus pizza features green garlic, Calabrian chilis, spring onion, farm egg and pecorino ($17). The House-Made Pork Belly Sausage is topped with braised greens, tomato and mozzarella ($17). For $2 to $4 more, add arugula, a farm egg, anchovies or prosciutto. The neighborhood shop has an intimate, cozy feel with two communal tables, open kitchen and bar seating in front of the make line. Pizza and pastries –– what more could anyone ask for?
PHOTOS BY JOSH KEOWN
Why are pizza dough recipes/formulas expressed in percentages rather than in amounts?
The easiest way to express a dough formula is in what is referred to as baker’s percent. The amount of each ingredient is expressed as a percent of the total flour weight used in the dough formulation. This allows for easy checking to make sure all ingredients are in correct balance regardless of batch size, and it also allows you to adjust the batch/dough size up or down while keeping all ingredients in correct balance. To find the correct weight for each ingredient you must first decide how much flour you want to use. The total flour weight is always equal to 100 percent. Here is a typical dough formula in baker’s percent:
Flour: 100 percent
Salt: 1.75 percent
Sugar: 1.5 percent
Instant Dry Yeast: 0.375 percent
Oil: 2 percent Water: 58 percent
Let’s say we want to use 35 pounds of flour. To find the amount of each ingredient, using your handy calculator enter the flour weight X the ingredient percent and press the “%” key, then read the ingredient weight in the display window. Remember, the ingredient weight will be in the same weight units that the flour weight is expressed in. To manipulate the size of your dough, simply plug in the new flour weight and repeat the above calculator entries. It really is that easy.
If you already know the ingredient weights and you want to put the formula into baker’s percent, start out by putting 100 percent next to the flour weight. Flour is always equal to 100 percent. Then divide each ingredient weight by the flour weight and multiply by 100 to get the baker’s percent for each of the ingredients.
Here are a couple of neat things that you can use baker’s percent for:
If you add up all of the percentages, in the example formula above, we get 163.625 percent. Divide this by 100 and you get 1.63625 (call it 1.63). How much dough will this formula make? To answer that question just multiply the flour weight by 1.63. If we are using 35 pounds of flour we will get 1.63 x 35 = 57.05 (call it 57 pounds) of dough. If I were to increase the dough weight to 40 pounds we would get 1.63 x 40 = 65.2 (call it 65 pounds) of dough. u If you have an order for 30 large pizzas tomorrow, and your dough weight for each large pizza is 17½ ounces, how much dough would you need to make just for this order? Here is how you do it:
30 x 17.5-ounces = 525-ounces of dough will be needed. Divide the total dough weight (525 ounces) by 1.63 to find the total flour weight needed to make a dough weighing 525-ounces. 525 divided by 1.63 = 322.08 (call it 321ounces/20 pounds) of flour would be needed to make the dough for this order.
As you can see, baker’s percent can be a pretty handy tool to work with.
Tom Lehmann is a director at the American Institute of Baking in Manhattan, Kansas.
PHOTO BY ART DEPT.
There are two times of the year that salad sales in restaurants spike. The first spike is a short-lived one, and that’s the first week in January when people are making their New Year’s resolutions. The second one is now and lasts all summer! With great salad options on your menu, salad sales can be very strong all year. If you’re smart, you’ll make your way to the drawing board or, in our case, the cutting board and create some amazing salads that your guests will fall in love with. Take a look at your existing inventory and see what you have that will be the perfect addition in creating some fresh and vibrant new salad options.
Making your own salad dressing might seem like too much work, but you’ll be amazed when you find out how incredibly fast, simple and cost effective it is. So many pizza operators use dressing packets or cups, and I’ll admit that they are very convenient. The reality, however, is that premade dressings will always cost more and will never be as good as what you can make yourself. Premade dressings are required to include in its long list of ingredients (that most people can’t even pronounce) some type of preservative, which is not generally delightful to the palate.
Once you get your salad menu down, we can get to the component that ties it all together and gives the salad life. I always thought it was lame that a restaurant will have only one house dressing. Impressive? Hardly. To me, it’s stating that we’re either too lazy to make the rest of them or we simply are not talented enough. Not only is it cheaper and tastier, it’s a no-brainer. To add to the awesomeness of house-made dressing, you now need to find some nice little pint-sized containers to fill and sell them! Make sure you put a sticker with your restaurant’s logo and phone number on it. Think of the advertising dollars you have spent over the years trying to get your name in front of your customers to remind them “We’re ready to serve you!” When your customers open their refrigerator at home and see your logo 6-10 times a day, that’s a really good thing. Let me give you some of my favorite dressing ideas that are simple and very popular with my customers.
Many of my dressings start with mayonnaise as the base and I build from there. Honey Lemon dressing is one that I use on a Honey Lemon Pecan Chicken Salad or simply as a choice of dressing on any salad.
For a small batch, mix: 2 cups of mayo 1/3 cup of honey ¼ cup lemon juice ¼ cup of water 2 tablespoons of fresh or freeze-dried chives That should take you about 60 seconds to make. Once you tweak the recipe, you’ll want to multiply the recipe to start with a gallon of mayo.
Here’s another great dressing called honey ginger dressing. Besides being a choice for all salads, I use this one on a honey-ginger almond chicken salad.
You can use the exact recipe for the honey lemon dressing, except you want to eliminate the chives. Once you have that base mixed up, add 2 teaspoons of ground ginger and ¼ cup of teriyaki sauce and it’s as simple as that.
We make our own creamy Caesar that our guests rave about and here’s how we do it.
Again with a small batch to get you started, mix: 2 cups of mayo 2 cups of zesty Italian dressing ½ cup grated Parmesan 1½ teaspoon granulated garlic ½ teaspoon ground pepper 3-4 shots of Worcestershire sauce Toss this dressing with your chopped romaine leaves and garnish with croutons and shredded or shaved Parmesan for an amazing Caesar Salad. Offer grilled steak, chicken, salmon or shrimp as an easy add-on.
Ranch is such a popular dressing, and once I realized how fast it is to make and that what I make is better than any ranch on the market (customers repeatedly let me know it’s the best ranch they’ve ever had), I just had to make it myself.
The funniest thing is that my buttermilk ranch doesn’t even have any buttermilk in it. The first time I decided to make it, I wanted to use buttermilk but didn’t have any. I realized that I can emulate buttermilk by using half & half with a little vinegar, so here’s my recipe. This time I’m giving you the large batch version:
1 gallon of mayo 1 quart half and half cream ½ cup white vinegar 1 cup water ½ cup granulated garlic 1 cup onion powder 1 tablespoon salt 1 tablespoon pepper ½ cup finely chopped parsley or freeze dried It’s really that simple! You can use this ranch as a base for an Avocado ranch or a Chipotle ranch. Be creative.
Now get in the kitchen people and make your own dressing. Pour them into two-ounce soufflé cups with lids for side salads and four-ounce cups for large salads. You can use pint-sized containers for jumbo catering salads and for customers to take home your freshly made dressing to enjoy. Get your name and logo on it so you’ll get some extra advertising.
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.
If you were in Las Vegas, then you know that International Pizza Expo® was the THE place to be. You could feel the energy and pizza enthusiasm from the moment you walked into the Las Vegas Convention Center.
There was something for everyone at International Pizza Expo® 2012, whether you’re a veteran or just opening your first store. When the show closed on Thursday afternoon, nearly 7,000 buyers had visited more than 930 exhibits and attended more than 80 educational sessions. Rounding out the experience were numerous culinary competitions, contests, demonstrations and other special events.
The Traditional Division of the International Pizza Challenge™ had the following regional winners and wild cards that advanced to the finals:
Real Varela, Brooklyn Pizza & Pasta, Los Angeles, CA - Southwest Region
Tim Silva, Nima’s Pizza My Heart, Los Gatos, CA - Northwest Region
Mark Briand, Bondi’s Pizza, London, Ontario - Mid-America Region
Frank Baird, Franco’s Pizza Plus, Chardon, OH - Wild Card
Giovanni Gagliardi, Pizzeria La Leggenda, San Felice, Italy - International Region
Marlene Smith, Pizza Palace Plus, Emporium, PA - Northeast Region
Keith Coffman, Lost River Pizza Co., Bowling Green, KY, - Southeast Region
The Non-Traditional Division of the International Pizza Challenge™ had the following regional winners and wild cards that advanced to the finals:
Joleen Pisner, AJ Barile’s Chicago Pizza, Yucaipa, CA - Southwest Region
John Cammack, Lefty’s Grill, Nevada City, CA - Northwest Region
Rick Mines, Nima’s Pizza & More, Gassville, AR - Southeast Region
John Gutekanst, Avalanche Pizza, Athens, OH - Mid-America Region
Andrew Scudera, Goodfella’s Brick Oven Pizza, Staten Island, NY -
Tsutomu Inayoshi, Japanese Home Delivered Pizza, Aichi, Japan -
Alexandre Brunet, Pizza Stromboli, Montreal, Quebec - Wild Card
Tim Silva, won the Traditional Division and $7,500, Andrew Scudera, won Non-Traditional Division and $7,500, Shawn Randazzo, Cloverleaf Pizza, St. Clair, MI, won the American-Pan Division, and Umberto Fornito won the Italian-Style Division and $4,000.
Following the International Pizza Challenge finals, the winners in each division squared off in the Pizza Maker of the Year competition. Contestants were presented with a table of ingredients from which to choose. There were no restrictions for toppings, but all contestants had to use the secret ingredient – Cattlemen’s® Carolina Tangy Gold™ Barbeque Sauce. Shawn Randazzo walked away with the title of World Champion Pizza Maker of the Year and an additional $5,000. We also introduced a new competition this year called the Best of the Best, where four past World Champions squared off to see who would be named the Master Pizza Maker of the Year. The inaugural winner was Tony Gemignani, of Tony’s Pizza Napoletana in San Francisco, California, who walked away with $2,500.
The Winners in the World Pizza Games® were as follows:
Freestyle Acrobatics –– Kazuya Akaogi, Red Japan Co., Japan,
Masters Division Freestyle Acrobatics –– Jay Schuurman, Pizza Rock, Sacramento, CA
Fastest Dough Stretch –– Ingrosso Simone, Pizzeria Del Mille, Italy
Fastest Box Folding –– Jimmy Xang, Pizza Guys, Rancho Cordova, CA
Largest Dough Stretch –– Mario Sigmorile, Pizzeria Del Centro, Italy
Longest Spin –– Kazuya Akaogi, Red Japan Co., Japan
Start making plans now to attend International Pizza Expo® 2013, which will again be held at the Las Vegas Convention Center March 19 – 21.
PHOTO BY JOSH KEOWN
With the summer months upon us crisp, cold salads are a must-have menu item. “When it’s hot outside, salads are one of my favorite foods to eat,” says Spencer Johnston, executive chef at The Churchill in Los Angeles, California.
To move his dinner salads, Johnston has summer to thank. “In the summer people eat lighter dishes. I tend to sell more during this time,” he says. “For ingredients I go to the farmers markets when the product is in the height of its season, which means everyone is producing, and the price is low. These salads are easy to make and affordable.”
Operators don’t have to stick to the ubiquitous iceberg-cheese-and-crouton fare. Instead consider building salads with trendy ingredients such as spring peas, pea tendrils, crab, beets, nuts, watermelon radishes, Brussels sprouts, pomegranate or sunchokes.
“Kale is also a great green, and can be used in a wide range of salads,” adds Johnston, who says operators can’t go wrong mixing tomatoes with sweet basil and torn Burrata cheese tossed with salt, pepper, balsamic vinegar and fresh pressed olive oil. He also suggests plating a chopped salad with cucumbers, tomatoes and feta marinated first in oregano/ red wine vinaigrette. To lighten up a traditional Caesar salad for summer Johnston cuts the head of Romaine in half, seasons with salt and pepper and lightly grills. Then he drizzles Caesar dressing over it, along with chopped white anchovies, and serves it with grilled bread.
Stephanie Castellucci, owner and general manager at Double Zero Napoletana in Atlanta, Georgia, menus two summer salads. The Burrata and Prosciutto is created with Burrata, prosciutto di Parma, arugula, red onion marmalade and balsamic caviar dressed in Saba vinegar/basil oil. The cavoletti salad presents shaved raw Brussels sprouts, egg, candied pecans and Grana Padano cheese tossed in a preserved lemon and Dijon mustard vinaigrette.
“These items are profitable. But, they are definitely not our lowest food cost items,” says Castellucci. “Burrata is a phenomenal product, but it is also really expensive.” To compensate, servers push salads to patrons by highlighting the salad section of the menu and talking about a few of their favorites.
James D. Faurentino, owner of Pizza a’fetta in Cannon Beach, Oregon, also depends on his wait staff to help move salads. “We have the wait staff do a brief menu overview as they address the customers. The staff informs the customer that we can do both full salads and a half portion. The half portion or split salad is a sum of $1 over the cost of half the total price of the whole salad,” he says.
In addition, servers encourage salad add-ons. “Fresh crab and grilled smoked chicken choices are great add-ons and increase the sale by an average of $2.50 to $3,” Faurentino says.
The restaurant also offers a meal combo during lunch that allows customers to try any half-portion salad with a slice of pizza and a beverage. “This is the best way to introduce the customer to new feature salad items,” says Faurentino.
Customers may order a full portion dinner salad during their next visit. Wait staff may also encourage patrons to start with a pizza and then order a salad entrée since pizza makes a great share item.
Faurentino’s most popular summer salads include the spinach and capriccio options. The spinach salad tosses fresh spinach in bacon and warm housemade raspberry vinaigrette and is topped with red peppers, Italian red onions and fontina cheese. The capriccio salad displays a bed of romaine adorned with diced tomatoes, mozzarella, kalamata olives, artichokes, Romano cheese, basil and an extra virgin olive oil/balsamic vinegar dressing. Faurentino says the spinach salad has a 12.2 percent plate cost for a $7.95 total cost, while the capriccio salad has a 12.7 percent plate cost for a $7.95 total cost.
Anthony Russo, founder of Russo’s New York Pizzeria and Russo’s Coal- Fired Italian Kitchen, both headquartered in Houston, says: “People are increasingly health-conscious and aware of the things they put in their bodies, so salads are quick movers.”
At the 27-unit New York Pizzeria popular summer salads include cucumber/feta, which blends together sliced cucumbers, red onions, tomatoes, kalamata olives and feta tossed in a housemade garlic-infused extra virgin olive oil; and a roasted beet salad with mixed field greens and goat cheese.
“Salads are typically a profitable option using the more run-of-the-mill vegetables,” says Russo. However, he cautions that incorporating meats, cheeses, and more exotic vegetables or fruits can make it slightly less profitable. Remember to price accordingly — especially on dinner menus.
When it comes to summer salads, take advantage of seasonal ingredients and have fun developing original combinations. Your patrons, and your bottom-line, will thank you. u
Yield: 2 servings
4 ounces romaine lettuce
6 ounces Roma tomato, diced
5 small fresh mozzarella balls cut into two
Dash of salt
1 ounce extra virgin olive oil
1 ounce balsamic vinegar
Sprinkle of Parmesan cheese
4 kalamata olive halves
2 artichoke hearts, halved
1 ounce Romano cheese
Pinch of basil, chopped
Place romaine in center of plate. Top with tomatoes and mozzarella. Sprinkle with salt, extra virgin olive oil, vinegar and Parmesan.
Place olives on the plate’s left side. Place artichokes on the plate’s right side. Garnish with Romano and basil.
Melanie Wolkoff Wachsman is a freelance writer in Louisville, Kentucky. She covers food, business and lifestyle trends.
PHOTO BY JOSH KEOWN
Tristan Kohler is the owner of a 24/7 Domino’s Pizza franchise in Dayton, Ohio. His pizzeria is the only Domino’s Pizza in the United States with a breakfast daypart. “We began offering breakfast pizza two years ago,” says Kohler.
The college campus location of Kohler’s franchise grants a demographic that marketing research firm NPD Group Inc. reports is a good market for restaurants to target for breakfast traffic.
According to a study authored by Dori Hickey, director of product management of NPD, called Morning MealScape 2011, 28 percent of males age 18 to 34 have the highest incidence of skipping breakfast and adults 55 and older have the lowest (11 percent for males, ages 55 and older, and 10 percent for females in this age range). Among children, the incidence of skipping breakfast increases as children age with 13- to 17-year-olds having the highest incidence (14 percent) of skipping the morning meal.
Tim McIntyre, vice president and director of communications for Domino’s Pizza, agrees that franchise location is a key to success when considering adding a breakfast daypart. “The three Domino’s Pizza franchises that have breakfast pizza (two in the UK and one in Dayton, Ohio) are all very near college campuses.”
Breakfast pizza as a menu option appeared on Technomic’s MenuMonitor, a food-based research and consulting firm, for the first time in 2010, which is one reason it is difficult to obtain profitability statistics. Another reason, says Howard Cannon, CEO of Restaurant Consultants of America, is because of the different ways breakfast pizza is being offered to the consumer: “There aren’t any stats on how breakfast pizza is being accepted because it is being offered in a patchwork approach. However, the success of the product is like any other daypart or menu offering: It comes down to volume of purchasing juxtaposed against plate profit.”
Cannon advises clients to consider all options before rolling out a new daypart. “We know what Americans eat. Trying to train ‘your’ customers in ‘your’ marketplace to eat something they are not accustomed to eating means you better have a big marketing budget.”
McIntyre understands that concept. “Domino’s does not offer a breakfast daypart in the majority of our restaurants because we believe we still have opportunity for growth at lunch, dinner and late evening,” he says, acknowledging that a Domino’s 24/7 franchise comes with considerations for the independent franchisee like obtaining a special business permit and finding employees for extra shifts. “The majority of our stores are owned by independent franchisees,” he says. “It is up to franchise owners to consider costs and then apply for an operations exception to us and to apply for zoning in their local venues.”
Because most pizzeria owners already have the ingredients needed to make breakfast pizza on hand, adding a breakfast daypart comes down to restaurant owners scrutinizing their unique marketplace. “The breakfast daypart is not the easiest segment in which to gain market share,” says Cannon. He suggests pizzeria owners study other restaurants like Subway. The sandwich shop chain recently rolled out a breakfast menu. “If you can expand into the breakfast daypart without losing momentum and traction in your current daypart it is never a bad idea to investigate the idea,” he says. However, Cannon also cautions pizzeria owners to ask themselves questions. “Subway’s busiest daypart is lunch,” he says. “Do you think the same customer is going to buy breakfast at Subway and then come back for lunch? Have I hurt my established profitability by rolling out a new daypart? Now think about that from a pizza perspective.”
Independent pizzeria owners often have fewer marketing dollars than chains. “An independent with a smaller budget may end up taking marketing dollars away from a daypart they already have that is profitable,” says Cannon. He advises his clients to be doing exceptionally well in the daypart they have before adding a new one.
Stevi B’s Pizza has 40 locations located in eight states. The chain offered breakfast pizza as a part of the lunch and dinner dayparts but found customer orders low. Matthew Loney, president of the company, found a niche market for breakfast pizza. “Basically the only time the breakfast pizza is consumed in our market is when we are asked to do a morning catering event.”
While it is apparent pizzeria owners should be cautious about adding a breakfast daypart, it is also apparent that breakfast pizza is slowly being put on menus around the country. According to research done by Technomic MenuMonitor, at the end of 2011 there were 14 pizza items on breakfast menus, a 17-percent increase.
Kohler thinks breakfast pizza is the best-kept secret of the pizza industry. “If you are a pizza veteran with any company you’ve probably tried it,” says Kohler. “Since our franchise is located at the University of Dayton and was already open late and with a lot of traffic, it just made sense to begin opening from 6 a.m. to11 a.m. and support the new daypart with a breakfast pizza.” Kohler considers adding the breakfast daypart a success and says, “That we are a pizzeria open for breakfast gives us some notoriety around campus as well.”
Whether the pizzeria owner opts for adding a breakfast daypart or finds another way to incorporate breakfast pizza, statistics show that the menu option is on the rise.
Domino's Pizza in Dayton, Ohio (close to the University of Dayton) sells an egg and cheese pizza with three additional toppings for $7.99.
Joe's American Bar & Grill in Boston, Massachusetts (Newbury Street), offers a breakfast pizza made with eggs, Italian sausage, onions, roasted red peppers, fresh mozzarella, and provolone. The pizza is served on Saturdays and Sundays from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m. and costs $11.99
Pulino's Bar & Pizzeria in New York City claims to be America's first breakfast pizzeria and offers an extensive variety of breakfast pizzas. The Patate breakfast pizza is made of eggs, tenderly cooked potato, sausage, fontina, and green onions ($8 small, $16 large). The pizzeria is open for breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner.
Vyvyan Lynn is an independent journalist. She lives in Georgia.
How to submit your letter
Submit your letters via
email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also sound off at:
FEELING PATRIOTIC Pizza Expo was a great time this year. As always, you guys truly outdo yourselves every year. I wanted to touch base and let you know that we followed through with the commitment that John Farrell made at the Beer & Bull session to the Pizza 4 Patriots gentlemen. We hope that others in the industry can see the power and importance of the cause as well. Most Sincerely, Clayton Krueger Director of Marketing & Communications Farrelli’s Wood Fire Pizza Tacoma, Washington Clayton is referring to the Pizza4Patriots program, an initiative led by retired Air Force Master Sergeant Mark Evans. The Pizzas4Patriots program seeks to send pizza to each and every one of the 100,000 U.S. service members based in Afghanistan next month. Mr. Evans briefly introduced the program to International Pizza Expo 2012 attendees in Las Vegas last month at one of the Beer & Bull sessions. After hearing Evans’ remarks, Farrelli’s Wood Fire Pizza founder John Farrell quickly stood up and pledged a $1,000 donation on the spot. Learn more about the initiative at Pizzas4Patriots.com. John Farrell and Pizza4Patriots’ Mark
KIDDING AROUND A good way to drive business sales up is to take your slow days and let neighborhood kids from age 4-10 make their own pizza. How it works: a parent orders a dinner and their son or daughter makes their own pizza for free. Your volume will jump higher ... We do it only on Mondays and Tuesdays from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Joe Mancino via PizzaToday.com Joe, we love this great marketing method. We advocate opening your pizzeria up to school field trips, Boy/Girl Scouts, etc. Letting kids come in and assemble (do not let them get near the oven and actually bake their pizza, of course!) their own pies is a fantastic idea. Kudos to you for making your kids’ pizza night a success.
YOUR PIZZA BOX: AN ADVERTISING ALLY We’ve been in business since 1985, but have just recently customized our pizza box because, like you mentioned, we realized it was a missed marketing opportunity. We always look forward to your magazine every month. Also, tell Scott that Lindsay and Mike said “hi” and we’ll be up to NYC for yet another pizza tour as soon as possible. Sincerely, Mike Cain Family Pizzeria Stafford, Virginia Thanks for reading and commenting on our article about customized boxes being a no-brainer marketing vehicle for pizzerias, Mike. And we have passed your note and “hello” on to Scott Weiner of Scott’s Pizza Tours in NYC. He was enthusiastic about hearing from a tour veteran and looks forward to taking you around New York again, he says! To get a quick Scott fix right now, turn to page 20 and read what’s on his mind in this month’s Man on the Street column.
PHOTO BY RICK DAUGHERTY
Iced tea has its place in America. It has its own holiday in America, even. While the official first day of summer happens weeks later, National Iced Tea Day fittingly kicks off the season on June 10.
There are varying accounts of the origin of iced teas in the U.S. One popular take is that weather conditions at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair were so hot that attendees gravitated to anything served ice cold. An Indian tea merchant chilled his black tea to please thirsty fairgoers, and a tasty, cool beverage option was born.
America is known as a coffee drinking country. Though in the past 15 years, tea has gone from revenues in the low hundred millions to a $3 billion industry, says Joe Simrany, president of the Tea Association of the USA, Inc. Americans drink more than 50 billion servings of tea a year, and 40 billon of those are served over ice.
Iced tea made the National Restaurant Association’s “What’s Hot in 2012” list with specialty iced teas (e.g. Thai style, Southern, or flavored) making the “Top 100” at No. 77, as well as coming in No. 2 in the nonalcoholic beverage category behind house made soft drinks/ sodas.
A great appreciation for tea, Simrany says, “is resulting from the fact that consumers are recognizing that it not only could taste good, but it also has some very good health benefits for you, as well.” Unsweetened tea has received rave reviews as a low-calorie drink packed with antioxidants, making it a viable marketing opportunity to tantalize health-conscious diners.
Convenience is a factor with the increasing consumption of ready- to-drink varieties of iced tea available by the can or bottle, Simrany says. In fact, he adds that the ready-to-drink iced teas are an easy option for restaurants.
“There is no preparation necessary. All you have to have is a cooler.”
Black tea is the most widely used ingredient, and operators can serve it a few different ways. It can be served:
in bottles or cans — offering the ease of convenience, but can provide the least profit margin.
as a fountain soft drink option — being maintained by your beverage service provider.
brewed fresh — offering the most return, but uses space and labor.
Nonna Mia in New Orleans, Louisiana, serves fresh brewed iced tea and owners Alessia Lepanto and Kathleen Turpel wouldn’t have it any other way. “There is no substitute for house brewed tea, period,” says Turpel. “Fountain tea tastes syrup-y and bottles are wasteful. Factor in the unit price and you’d be crazy to go any other way.”
Fresh-brewed tea costs pennies to produce and offers the lowest food cost compared to soft drinks or coffee. Many shops charge $1.50 to $3 per serving. Restaurants can brew tea by the gallons with an iced tea brewer, which can run from $300-$700 depending on features. “Yes the machines are large and some elbow grease goes into cleaning the urns,” Turpel says. “But, some good things shouldn’t be easy.”
Iced tea is big in the South. The Northeast and the South have the country’s highest concentration of tea drinkers, according to the Tea Association. “Iced tea kind of sells itself in the South,” Turpel says.
If house brewed tea itself isn’t enticing enough at Nonna Mia, “Add some delicious Italian lemon ice (sorbet) and bring it to a table,” Turpel says, “and five other people want to know what it is.”
In addition to its house-brewed iced tea, which sells for $1.75, Nonna Mia features a Limonata Iced Tea with a scoop of Italian lemon ice for $3. It’s also available with a scoop of raspberry or mango sorbet.
Ray McConn, owner of Mother Bear’s Pizzeria in Bloomington, Indiana, also believes you should provide something a little extra with iced tea. He offers a house brewed iced tea for $1.95. But, for $1 more per flavor, his patrons may add strawberry, peach, raspberry, vanilla or cherry syrup. “We pay $5 per bottle (of syrup), with 25 ounces per,” he says. “That’s an ounce or two in a 32-ounce glass. It costs 30 cents for that $1 sale.”
Mother Bear’s doesn’t have room for both unsweetened and sweetened iced tea containers. McConn says the fruit precludes the need for a sweetener.
For an added touch, he includes a couple pieces of frozen fruit if it’s available to match the syrup. With the syrups and frozen fruit, the flavored tea’s food cost is comparable to other soft drinks.
The key, McConn says, is increasing ticket sales and adding to the restaurant’s gross profit.
McConn says that he also learned a valuable lesson about iced tea. He previously sold what he called “bag in a box” iced tea, but tea fans in his pizzeria didn’t take to the premade version. “We catered to customer demand to go to fresh brewed.”
When it comes to iced tea, there are those who take it sweetened or unsweetened, with or without a lemon wedge. And then there are those who want a mixed concoction. Here are a few ideas to add some "oomph" to your iced tea:
Syrups or juices: strawberry; cherry; vanilla; honey; raspberry; mango; peach; watermelon; orange; lemon; lime; cranberry; pineapple; coconut; caramel; hazelnut or peppermint
Fresh or frozen fruits: pomegranate; strawberry; cherry; raspberry; mango; peach; orange; lemon; lime; cranberry; watermelon or blackberry
Herbs and spices (may be added while steeping and used as a garnish): mint; sugar cane; basil; hibiscus; ginger; sage; rosemary; lavender; cinnamon or nutmeg
Bar Tip: For those who serve alcohol, try infusing your vodka with iced tea and fruit to create a refreshing cocktail.
PHOTO BY JOSH KEOWN
The wait is finally over. It has been nearly four months since I first noticed construction two blocks from my apartment in a relatively quiet Brooklyn neighborhood. It’s not that we don’t have pizza nearby — there are at least two slice shops within a three-block radius. But this new spot holds incredible potential to be a neighborhood anchor for those who want more than a quick slice. When I finally get a chance to visit the newly opened restaurant tonight, I’ll find out if I’m going to help send the owner’s kids through college or if I’m going to have to avoid that corner on my walk home from work. I far prefer the prior option. So, as a customer and your “Man on the Street,” what do I look for in a new pizzeria? As a highly anticipated new restaurant in a neighborhood that truly needs one, I assume this place is going to have a pretty serious wait. Since I can’t spend too much time staring at other peoples’ food without getting kicked out or punched in the face, it shifts the bulk of my attention to the staff. I imagine the space itself is going to be well designed, as are most restaurants opening in “up-andcoming” Brooklyn neighborhoods, but I’m much more curious about how servers interact with customers and each other. Even if the space is hideous, I strongly believe a bad visual vibe can be defeated by a warm and happy staff that makes me feel welcome. Once I’m sitting down, I wonder what the menu’s going to look like. I know they have a wood-burning oven (I can smell it from my apartment!), but I don’t know if they’ll be doing traditional Neapolitan or something completely unique. Even beyond the pizza scope, I’m hoping for some other menu items I can turn to when I’ve exceeded my weekly pizza tolerance. I’d love to see some good appetizers I can share with a large table and maybe even a pasta dish or two. Some of my closest friends are vegetarians so I’m crossing my fingers for some meatless selections. I always feel terrible when there’s one vegetarian selection on the menu and my friends have to eat the same thing every time we go. But variety only goes so far before there are compromises in the kitchen of a small restaurant, so I hope for quality and value above all else. There are some convenience factors on my wish list as well. I only live two blocks away so it would be amazing if this new place does take-out so I can get my fix when I’m craving my favorite dish without waiting for a table. On the other hand, there will definitely be times I want to escape my cramped living space for a drink or snack, so hopefully this place will have a bar. I’m not asking for the world here, just a few reasonable requests that will result in the perfect solution on those hungry nights when I don’t want to travel across town. If my wishes are granted, my kitchen may start to wonder where I’ve gone. u Scott Wiener owns and operates Scott’s Pizza Tours in New York City.
PHOTO BY RICK DAUGHERTY
Recently I did a brief survey of some of my pizza pals across the nation. My suspicions proved true — business on Monday is generally half of Friday’s sales. So, can I take a ‘dog’ day and make it a star? Sometimes it is just plain hard or impossible to change people’s spending habits, after all. Plus, let’s face it … Monday and Tuesday simply are going to be slower days in the restaurant industry. The trick is to make sure they aren’t dead days.
Frank Zappa once said: “Art is making something out of nothing and selling it.” Think about that quote and how we can take our nothing Monday and sell it as Friday’s art. A mastermind group I am involved in recently had this discussion and came up with some easily implemented ideas designed to perk up the beginning of the sales week.
Since most of your business is on the weekend, let this be a time to distribute bounce-back offers that are redeemable only on Monday or Tuesday. Make the offer at a price point you can live with; concentrate on selling value along with customer service and convenience. There is a reason why people hate Mondays so do your part to make Monday a little easier on them.
Chris Nonnemaker, owner of Papas Pizza To Go in Cleveland, Georgia, recommends giving people a reason to order. Nonnemaker suggests that pizzeria owners “Partner with local non-profits to give them a percentage of the sales between certain hours on those nights.” The idea of school nights has been around awhile, and many operators have found success with such programs. Plus, the school does all the marketing for you by sending families to your pizzeria in order to raise funds for school projects. Nonnemaker takes this approach a step further by focusing on convenience.
“I called the President of the PTO at the local elementary school and we arranged a special PTO afternoon where we sold $8 large pizzas to parents in the pick-up line after school,” he says. “The PTO sent out a small notice to all the kids and met me at the school. We walked car to car and sold the first 25 immediately! Within an hour, we sold 60 pizzas and raised $120 for the PTO. The president of the PTO is excited to do it again. Two other schools want to do this also.”
Ever notice how one nice order can make your day? Try partnering with a local business and offer a Monday lunch combo just for its employees. Set a price point that people are willing to pay yet does not devalue your product. Add in the convenience of delivery or the assurance that it will be ready on time. You’re now getting the business and the employees will realize the value and most likely be back other times of the week or want to share their experience with their family after work. I recommend personally taking a sample to the secretary or manager, along with menus for all the staff. Do this with enough businesses and eventually you’ll enjoy watching the orders come in by lunchtime. u
Scott Anthony is a Fox’s Pizza Den franchisee in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. He is a monthly contributor to Pizza Today and a frequent guest speaker at Pizza Expo.
FARRELLI'S / TACOMA, WASHINGTON
Everything Pizza Today sets out to accomplish, they do so with the highest class. So when I received a phone call from Jeremy White last year asking for our help with a big upcoming event to tackle breast cancer, I said: “We‘d be honored to help, Jeremy. What do you need from us?” At the time, he was unsure what the campaign would entail, as he was in the initial discovery phase of Slice of Hope. What he did know, having been personally affected by breast cancer, was that he was going to embark on an industry-wide initiative to help find a cure and that it would be a tough hill to climb from every angle. Among the hurdles Jeremy, myself and others anticipated, these were some of the largest:
The need to establish relationships with the top breast cancer research facilities so that the money collected could go straight to the labs.
How would the magazine go about raising awareness for the cause?
Collectively, how could we convince the independent pizzeria operators in America that donating a percentage of their sales from a busy Friday night was a good idea given the nature of the economy?
As anticipated, some operators wondered what was in it for them. At Farrelli’s, we certainly are not immune to the economy, either. In the 4th quarter of 2008, our sales took a significant hit. For the first time in our company’s history, they stayed down. We were reassured by similar stories around the industry that our decline in sales was the result of the sputtering economy. However, action was needed to ensure the future health of our organization. We found screws in our business system that needed to be tightened — screws that we did not even know existed prior to the economic downturn. When things are good, you don’t notice the little things. When things are bad, those little things can make or break you. On top of becoming a more efficient organization, we knew that we needed to continue to do the things that had led to our success up to that point, and that was to continue to find ways to give back to our communities.
Recently at the International Pizza Expo in Las Vegas, I presented a seminar on “Winning Pizza Marketing Strategies.” Here’s a quick recap for those of you who could not attend — find opportunities to make memorable moments for your employees, your guests and your communities. The result will be brand loyalty by your employees and patrons alike. They will be compelled to spread positive word of mouth on your behalf. Slice of Hope was the perfect opportunity to do just that, not just for our company, but for every independent pizzeria operator in the country. To us, that was the beauty of the initiative. Slice of Hope was a campaign that transcended the competition within our industry and brought us all together in one unified front, to fight breast cancer head on. That’s powerful, and that’s why we were on board from Day 1.
After we participated in Slice of Hope 2011, we received a ton of positive press in our community. We enjoyed ongoing engagement with our customers, many of whom have been impacted by this disease. This, in turn, lead to even more brand loyalty and support from our community. Farrelli’s was recognized as the National Neighbor Award recipient by the National Restaurant Association in 2010 for our emphasis on neighborhood nourishment. To win an award of that nature is humbling — but it also assures us that we are doing business the right way. I would encourage you all to seek opportunities in your community to do the same, and when Jeremy White gives you a call this year and asks you to sign up for Slice of Hope 2012 … Well, there’s only one answer to give: “YES, now what do you need from us, Jeremy?”
PHOTO BY RICK DAUGHERTY
JOEY'S ON THE BEACH
In March, thousands of college students and families alike flee colder climes to enjoy Spring Break on the Florida panhandle. We decided to do the same and check out the pizza scene in Panama City Beach and nearby Destin. This is what we found...
We started our quest at Joey’s on the Beach. This is your typical, unassuming pizzeria that fills the need of hungry locals with pale-crusted, foldable slices and pastas. With a New York ambiance inside and a large-yet-simple menu, Joey’s 14- and 18-inch pizzas are characteristic of what you’d find in owner Joey Di Meglio’s
native borough — Bronx, New York.
Sweet Basil’s has been an area staple for more than two decades. It has maintained its status amongst locals since opening in 1988 by offering Italian comfort foods in a value-conscious family setting.
The menu here covers both northern and southern Italian favorites, ranging from seafood dishes (Shrimp and Scallop Alfredo, Blackened Talapia) to baked ziti and lasagna. The pizza is no-frills and traditional, a common theme that we quickly discovered runs throughout the entire panhandle. It’s offered in 10- and 14-inch sizes, which encourages add-on sales in the form of salads and appetizers.
One Yelp! reviewer summarized his thoughts on Sweet Basil’s like this:
“Excellent choice for fast, tasty Italian fare at the beach at a price all can afford.” The reviewer went on to describe the restaurant as “kid friendly” and claimed the pizza to be “first rate.”
Another said his “kids will always remember it as one of their favorite Italian restaurants.”
Reviews like that are what help keep a business open for 24 years!
SALVATORE'S PIZZA & WINGS
A native of Buffalo, New York, Ken Siters knows a thing or two about pizza and wings. That’s why he doesn’t take shortcuts at his eatery, Salvatore’s, which is quietly tucked away in a strip center just off of Panama City Beach’s main oceanfront drag. From house-made sauces and dressings to wings that are never frozen, Siters takes his fare seriously. And
“A huge chunk of our business comes over Spring Break. Those few weeks in March are just crazy,” Siters says. “We’re grateful for the business, but glad by the end of March when things slow down. All the drunk customers start to wear you down a little bit!”
All joking aside, Salvatore’s gets its fair share of tourists due to the beach proximity. But when we where there half the dining room was stocked with lunching locals — and that was a sign to us that this place does pizza the right way.
We soon discovered that the owners and managers at Fat Clemenza’s were avid Pizza Today fans. It didn’t take long for us to love them right back!
Co-owner Dom Damiano says one of the things he most enjoys about running his parlor is the fact “that everyone thinks this is just a pizza place until they get here.”
Far more than pizza, Fat Clemenza’s is an artisan spot that showcases influences from the cuisines of Naples, Chicago and New Orleans. The wood-burning oven takes center stage and produces the ethereal, crunchy-yet-pillowy crust that made Neapolitan pizza legendary the world over. While the olive oils, tomatoes, sheet pasta and flour are imported from Italy, Fat Clemenza’s gets its sausage delivered from Chicago twice a week. The nod to New Orleans, explains Damiano, is less about ingredients and more about cooking technique.
The menu at Fat Clemenza’s features a mixture of antipasti, salads, sandwiches, pasta, calzones and dessert. But the pizza steals the show, and it’s nicely complemented with an array of Italian wines in various price ranges.
Then there’s “The Blackboard.” A salute to many great Chicago restaurants, the blackboard essentially features daily chef’s picks and specials — an ever-evolving extension of the core menu that keeps regulars (not to mention the kitchen crew!) from getting bored.
Island Pizza takes what we call the “Subway Approach.” A bevy of ingredients await customers who want to build their own pizza. Simply walk down the line and take your pick. Or there’s a deep selection of pre-arranged pizza recipes from which to choose, each one artfully blending non-traditional and more pedestrian ingredients. A focus on freshness, invidual pizza sizes and attractive prices make this an ideal spot for nearby office professionals and Spring Breakers alike. The concept is designed to move customers in and out quickly without making them feel like they’re in a fast food restaurant — and it works. “Awesome stuff,” says Jeff Snelling, a University of Arkansas student we ran into while visiting Island Pizza. It was Snelling’s first Spring Break trip to Panama City Beach, but his second visit to the pizzeria in as many days. “I had the Fowl Play (a chicken pizza) yesterday and it was great, so I wanted to come back and try something different today. They’re 2-for-2 in my book. I might come back again tomorrow!”
PHOTO BY JOSH KEOWN
Gelato –– that dense, creamy, wonderful Italian frozen dessert –– is not the exotic, foreign entity it once was. But although it has found its way onto restaurant menus across the country, it still offers menu distinction to operators. Flavors are limited only by imagination and range from the familiar chocolate and vanilla to the unique goat cheese-cashew caramel and apple cider. But, why consider gelato over ice cream, which has deeper roots with American consumers? For Italian restaurants and pizzerias, gelato offers a sweeter inroad to an authentic Italian experience. And today’s customers long for authentic experience and sense of artisanship. Extracted with a spatula instead of a scoop, gelato is often displayed in a case. It doesn’t sit, packed tightly into tubs, like its American counterpart. Rather, it stretches out in peaks and valleys, swirls and swoops and beckons with its dense creaminess. One marketing upside to gelato over ice cream is that it contains significantly less butterfat than ordinary ice cream (20 percent versus four to eight percent). And because gelato is churned more slowly, it has less air whipped into it, so it results in a denser and more intense product. Once the decision to carry gelato on dessert menus is made, operators must weigh the pros and cons of making it in house versus ordering it from a supplier.
At Joe Jo’s Pizza and Gelato in Ephraim, Wisconsin, location drove the decision to make gelato in house. Tucked away in Door County, the closest distributor is 70 miles away. “Although it was a big financial investment with the equipment, and it takes a big chunk of time to make, it’s worth it for us,” says Dick Luther, who co-owns this 90-seat pizzeria with his wife. They showcase 18 rotating flavors of gelato in a display case. “Our customers know that the gelato here is homemade,” he says. “It goes along with our homemade Cheese Merch pizzas and is an important distinction for our business. And it tastes wonderful. Because there’s less fat, flavors really come through. You’re not coating your taste buds with fat, so it’s a more intense experience.”
On Mondays, he and his wife typically make 25 batches that fill 10-pound containers. At wholesale, Luther says 10 pounds of gelato would cost $35. “We’re more than doubling our money on it,” he says, running a food cost of 20 percent. But making it takes up their whole Monday, starting at 8 a.m. and finishing at about 5 p.m. Stir-ins take the most time — adding marshmallow and chocolate chunks to the rocky road gelato, for instance. Luther and his wife took a gelato-making class before launching the business in May 2007. “I highly recommend taking a class! It can be challenging at first to get the formula and technique down,” he says. “They also guided us on pricing, so we could be profitable.”
Gelato makes up at least 10 percent of Joe Jo’s business (and in the summer, it’s at least 15 percent). It took the business three years to recoup the initial investment in gelato-making equipment, display case and supplies.
American Pie Pizzeria, Gelato and Juice Bar in Bridgehampton, New York, sources its gelato from a regional supplier. “Our main focus is pizza. Gelato is an accessory for us,” says Raj Sainani, owner of this casual 16-seat, 16-stand pizzeria. His display case shows off 12 flavors, all brought in from a dessert company in Fairview, New Jersey. Popular flavors range from mint chip (for the kids), caffe Bianco and tiramisu. He sells one scoop for $2.99 (additional scoops $1.99 each), a pint for $8.99 and a quart for $15.99. Sainani runs a 17 percent food cost. “The hardest thing to manage is the temperature,” he says. “If you don’t manage it well, you get freezer burn on the gelato and have to throw it out.”
Black Dog Gelato is a gourmet gelateria with two retail locations in Chicago. Apart from walk-in customers, chef/owner Jessica Oloroso also sells to more than 30 foodservice accounts, including the famed Girl & the Goat restaurant and The Drake hotel. Known for quality gelato and unusual flavor combinations, she says that gelato gives restaurant operators a unique, quality product that the operator down the street doesn’t have. “By sourcing out, it’s like having an offsite pastry chef and gives you a product that has an in-house feel,” she says. Operators can choose from a vast array of flavors, such as malted vanilla or Mexican hot chocolate. Or she can create customized flavors. For instance, to pair with a chocolate cake at Girl and the Goat, she made a shiitake mushroom gelato (shiitakes, brown sugar, vanilla bean, cocoa nibs, butter).
She sells Black Dog’s gelato for one base price and says that, depending on serving size, one gallon will yield between 20 and 30 servings. The food cost, she says, is “well under $1 a serving.” To maintain the integrity of gelato, Oloroso recommends operators order small batches and have them delivered two to three times a week. “That way, your gelato will taste creamy with all of the bright flavors in tact.”
5 TRADITIONAL GELATO FLAVORS
5 "NEW" TRADITIONAL GELATO FLAVORS
CREAMY CHOCOLATE GELATO
Yield: 3 quarts
6 cups of whole
1½ cups of granulatedsugar
12 egg yolks, beaten
6 ounces of semisweet chocolate
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
In a large saucepan, combine half the milk with egg yolks and sugar.
Cook over very low heat until mixture sticks to the metal utensil, whisking continually. Add the chocolate, stirring until melted. Remove from heat; gradually mix in the remaining
milk and vanilla extract. Cover;
chill overnight or place the saucepan
in an ice bath until completely chilled. Freeze in a 5-quart ice cream maker according to manufacturer's directions.
Katie Ayoub is a frequent contributor to Pizza Today. She’s based in Naperville, Illinois.
Tues Deals: 2 Dogs, Fries, Pop $5; Large 1-Topping Pan Pizza $15; 6 Free Wings w/ $25 Order! http://www.pie-eyedpizzeria.com/ 312.CHEESE.5
Why it works: Talk about using your 140 characters wisely! This creative tweet gets in a bunch of daily deals, the company’s web site as a link and its phone number. It also lets customers know that it offers more than just pizza –– a great move for a group dining out. Not everyone digs pizza (although we don’t know why!).
Ziggy’s Bar + Grill
Monday. Grilled tequila lime chicken, guacamole, sides for $11. Hand squeezed Margaritas for $4. Monday approves.
Why it works: This all-in-one tweet wraps up a tasty special with price and the fact that Ziggy’s offers magaritas. Adding in that the drinks are hand-squeezed gives this tweet a score above its competitors. Here’s to telling customers you do it in-house –– and making it look affordable!
Yield: 2 servings
¼ cup lemon juice
¼ cup preserved lemon, finely chopped
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
4 tablespoons chopped shallots
2 teaspoons thyme, finely chopped
1½ cups extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
12 Brussels sprouts, shaved
1 ounce candied pecans
1 hard-boiled egg, thinly sliced (discard yolk)
¼ cup Grana Padano cheese, finely shaved
To prepare dressing, combine lemon juice, lemon, mustard,
shallots, thyme, oil, salt and pepper in a bowl. Mix brussels sprouts and pecans lightly with dressing. Add egg shavings. Shave Grana Padano on top.
FACEBOOK PIZZA FEEDS
LaRosa’s Pizzeria If you’re looking for great lunch deal today stop in and see us to get a calzone & soda for only $4.99 when you mention code “1225” to your server. Great deal to start off your Monday!
Why it works: LaRosa’s hits the bullseye with this affordable lunch special. Adding in a code allows the company to track the success of the promotion, which targets the working lunch crowd. Subsequent Facebook fan posts prompted LaRosa’s to add that the offer was dine-in only, but encouraged them to visit the company’s Web site for coupons and deals. This was a home run!
Fat Boy’s Pizza & Pasta We got a double trouble deal Thursday. Lets take our normal THIRSTY THURSDAY free drinks, and throw in a little dash of this...tell the cashier you read this post, and buy any LARGE pizza for the price of a MEDIUM.
Why it works: Fat Boy’s takes a usual weekly special and turns it on its head. Offering to size up a pizza is a great promotion. The restaurant isn’t taking money off (and thus, out of the till) but instead offered customers more for their money. This costs the restaurant little but increases business. And while a medium might not feed a family, a large might –– especially if families order check-padding items like wings or breadsticks.
PHOTO BY JOSH KEOWN
As the temperature rises, it’s time to cool things down. Give your customers the opportunity to lighten up with pizzas that are fresh, colorful and deliciously summer-fresh. There’s no need to put pepperoni and sausage on a back shelf, but summer is the perfect opportunity to menu limited-time offerings with farmer’s market appeal.
This will give you an edge over the chains, which don’t have the ability to change it up as fast as you can. By utilizing fresh ingredients sourced from local producers, it’s easy to create pizzas that have summer appeal. Think bell peppers, zucchini, etc. –– anything with fresh appeal.
With proper advertising, you will be out front and on the cutting edge. Don’t forget to romance these summer pizzas with tags like “Farmer’s Market Special.” You don’t have to print new menus –– just use a chalkboard (or even a dry erase board) and let your customers know what fresh ingredients you have on hand.
And this is the time to take advantage of fresh herbs as well. Basil, thyme, oregano, mint and other herbs will add a flavor profile that will have your customers coming back for more.
Listed below are several ideas and suggestions to get you started. Keep in mind the mantra I always preach: balance. Not too much, not too little. You have a garden of opportunity to till as fresh produce comes along month after month — run with it and show your customers that you are in it to win it:
On a baked pizza crust, overlap slices of fresh Roma or slicing tomatoes. Drizzle extra-virgin olive oil over the tomatoes. Snip leaves of fresh basil and scatter them across the top. u
As a variety to the above, add thin slices of fresh mozzarella to the pizza for a simple margherita.
Summer would be a good time to break out a barbecue chicken pizza! If you’re grilling meats for sandwiches and salads, there’s no reason not to add it to pizza. Though you can prep boneless, skinless chicken breasts by sautéing or grilling, it is simple to order cooked chicken strips from a reliable supplier. Now all you need to do is toss the chicken in barbecue sauce and arrange the pieces over the pizza shell. I like to add chopped fresh red onion and jazz up the flavor.
With but four basic ingredients, this pizza goes together fast, and it’s absolutely delicious. Simply by changing the type of barbecue sauce — smoky, spicy, hot — you can spice it up or down to taste. July would be a good time to feature a range of barbecue pizza (chicken, pork). u Pizza alla oesto: there are a number of suppliers who have pesto sauce ready to use, so simply brush a baked pizza shell with pesto sauce, add fresh basil leaves to garnish and serve. If the price is right, scatter some toasted pine nuts over the top. u Another dimension of flavor can be brought into the mix by using shredded smoked mozzarella.
This salad pizza is a refreshing way to have your salad and your pizza at the same time. While the cheese pizza is baking, assemble the salad. Pizza insalata is good anytime of the year, but it is especially good anytime when tomatoes are at peak flavor. If the pizza is served as a first course, or as a salad entrée, it will serve two generously.
Yield: one 14-inch pizza (scale up in direct proportion)
6-7 cups mixed lettuces –– leaf, red leaf, radicchio
4-5 fresh plum tomatoes, seeded and cubed
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
1 14-inch pizza shell 8 thin slices provolone cheese (about 6 ounces)
Combine the lettuces and tomatoes. Set aside. Can be prepped ahead and chilled for several hours.
In a measuring cup combine the olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice. Whisk to combine. Add salt and pepper.
With your fingers, press and form a ½-inch border around the crust. Prick the base of the crust all over with a fork.
Lay the slices of cheese over the crust up to the raised border.
Bake the shell until it is cooked through. Set aside to cool (prep to this point).
Toss the greens with the dressing. Cut the pizza into wedges and space them on a large serving plate. Arrange portions of the salad between the wedges and serve. Serve grated Parmesan cheese on the side.
SUMMER GARDEN PIZZA
Yield: one 14-inch pizza
1 14-inch pizza crust
1 cup Alfredo sauce
1½ cups julienne carrots
1½ cups broccoli
1 cup julienne cucumber
1 small tomato, chopped ½ small onion, chopped
1½ cup mozzarella
Ladle Alfredo sauce onto pizza crust, spreading it into a semi-thin layer. Scatter broccoli, cucumber, tomato, onion and 1 cup of carrots on top.
Cover with mozzarella and a few sprinkles of fresh basil. Bake.
When pizza comes out of oven, sprinkle with remaining carrots. Serve.
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.
PHOTO BY JOSH KEOWN
With four Blue Moon Pizza stores spread about the Atlanta area, Kelvin Slater cannot make every pizza and touch every table. It’s why Slater feels so compelled to draw and hold on to first-rate employees.
“I need to make sure quality is coming across to the customer every time,” says Slater, who oversees about 150 employees amid the Blue Moon enterprise.
Slater surely knows that part of attracting –– and retaining –– skilled and qualified employees is offering competitive wages and an enticing array of bonuses, promotions, incentives and perks.
“It’s beneficial to reward employees because the employee who knows my business and its nuances is invaluable,” Slater says, adding that employee retention generally breeds customer retention as well.
For many operators, competitive pay as well as bonus and promotion opportunities not only drive talent management but expense management as well. By building a strategy around pay, both base pay and variable components, operators address their single largest cost –– people.
So how does one build a competitive payscale, especially when the practice relies on factors as diverse as regulations, geography, tasks, job skills, and even certifications, such as TIPS or ServSafe?
First, Stacey Carroll, director of professional services for PayScale, a Seattle-based firm that tracks compensation data, urges operators to make payscale decisions based on credible, current data about market rates and job responsibilities.
“You need to ask: is this data relevant and does it provide a good benchmark from which to build a payscale?” Carroll says.
In some cases, operators may decide to offer lower base pay and bolster the overall compensation package with tempting incentives. Others may elect to ignore bonuses and pay $1 more per hour beyond competitors to build a perception of higher pay.
“There are no right or wrong answers, but you want to make sure you’re where you want to be relative to the competition,” Carroll says. “It’s about gathering the right data and setting a strategy to make sound decisions.”
Jeff Mease, who runs five pizza shops in Bloomington, Indiana, including the delivery-dominant Pizza X and the pizza brew pub Lennie’s, monitors the general state of competitors’ hourly fees, while also reviewing his own pricing and revenue to determine what he can afford.
“The higher the ticket, the more room there is to heighten compensation,” says Mease, who directs a staff of 100.
With a mix of knowledge of the competitive landscape and years of trial and error since opening his first Blue Moon in 2003, Slater maintains a set minimum for all new managers and operating partners, shifting that rate if the new hire possesses proven experience and know-how. Later, when it comes to raises, he does not cap pay bumps.
“If the employee is good for the company and helping us perform, there’s no reason to put a limit in place,” he contends.
While Carroll understands that few operators will unveil a published salary scale to employees, lest they risk relinquishing flexibility and discretion, she urges operators to be as transparent as possible with employees, letting them know about salary ranges for specific jobs as well as how pay increases and promotions are determined. “Give employees a sense of things, so they can see the opportunities,” she suggests.
For Mease, a 30-year industry veteran, compensation is a tool to spark extra motivation and attention to detail, particularly when it comes to compensation beyond the base rate.
At Pizza X and Lenny’s, Mease returns 20 percent of each store’s income to its GM, while another five percent of company profit is spread among the five GMs equally. Mease says his compensation plan fosters positive peer pressure among the managers and inspires them all to perform their best. He says that the simple nature of his plan –– rooted in the basic P&L statement and devoid of any complicated metrics –– puts ownership and management on the same page.
“If you set the compensation structure just right, then you don’t have to manage the staff,” he says, adding that his assistant managers receive bonuses tied to labor costs and efficient commodities usage in addition to their hourly rate.
In fact, many operators turn to incentive programs to boost base pay and heighten employee performance, particularly for those in the managerial, kitchen, and support staff ranks who are not naturally motivated by tips.
Carroll says the most productive incentive programs feature attainable results, reward on results not activity, and include measurable metrics that allow an operator to assess ROI.
“A properly designed incentive plan should pay for itself because it boosts profitability,” Carroll says.
While some contend that an employee should not be rewarded for filling the job’s requirements, Slater actively seeks opportunities to recognize those who exceed expectations. He’ll frequently run daily contests for salesmanship at each of his four stores as well as regular contests between the stores for gift cards, event tickets, or staff adventures.
“If nobody was getting rewarded, it would certainly change the culture of the restaurant,” Slater says, adding that employees enthusiastically share news of their rewards with colleagues, which heightens the overall level of performance throughout the Blue Moon ranks.
INSIDE THE KITCHEN: USING INCENTIVES TO DRIVE HIGH PERFORMANCE
At his five-store, Indiana-based pizza empire, Jeff Mease has tried to tie incentive compensation throughout the system. While servers and drivers are naturally motivated by tip income, Mease explored adapting the incentive idea for other hourly staff, specifically those in the kitchen.
At his commissary operation, Mease performed a time study to baseline production of specific elements, such as making dough balls and slicing green peppers. He posts a goal time each week. When achieved, the staff receives 70 percent of the saved money.
“The message is clear: ‘When you’re more efficient and the company saves, you’ll get back the bulk of those savings,’” Mease says.
As a result of his incentive-laden plan, Mease doesn’t need to ride his kitchen staff or worry about being overbudget.
“These guys get into the kitchen and it hums along,” Mease says. “They’re empowered to be productive and get a sense of accomplishment from the bonus.”
Chicago-based writer Daniel P. Smith has covered business issues and best practices for a variety of trade publications, newspapers, and magazines.
| Keep up with the latest trends, profit making ideas, delicious recipes and more. Delivered hot
and fresh to your email every Wednesday.