February 4, 2013 |

2010 August: Ask Chef Jeff

By Jeffrey Freehof

2010 August: Ask Chef JeffQ: We don’t have a fryer but found some appetizers that bake in the oven. They have really increased our check average. Can we do the same with desserts?





A: Absolutely! If you can find or make some great looking desserts, people can’t resist –– especially if they are visible and you train your staff to use words like amazing and irresistible. Go for it!

I am reading about trends with offering a gluten-free pizza. Should I jump on this since none of my competitors have?

Trends come and go. Some folks who jumped on the low-carb craze with a crustless pizza actually did well with it for a little while until that fad lost its power. The crustless pizza would fi t the gluten-free diet as well. I honestly have not tried a gluten-free pizza crust that I like yet. Remember, too, that gluten-free isn’t really a fad that will pass. It’s really for folks who are allergic to wheat. You have to know your market. Take a survey. You may be surprised at how many folks would order a gluten-free pizza if you offered it. I think it would be more cost effective to start with a gluten-free pasta offering made of rice or corn to test the waters. If it succeeds, then go for the pizza as well.

I want so badly to open a pizza shop in my town simply because I see how busy the few shops we have are, and they serve horrible product.s What steps do I take to open a little pizzeria?

Well you’ve started in the right place finding this magazine and its many resources and archived articles. It’s not something to take lightly. It’s not just as simple as throwing some money at a location and hiring a few people who claim they know what they’re doing. You need to do the research. I’d suggest you attend the upcoming International Pizza Expo next March. There are seminars to answer all your questions as well as all the products and equipment you’ll need. If you have no experience, I’d really suggest finding a consultant that you are comfortable with to walk you through the whole process.

Business was not good enough to support my salary and the rest of the staff, so I recently took another job to save money. Sales have declined even more and I am wondering if it’s because I’m not there. How can I tell?

That’s always a very tough decision to make. I would only suggest something like you have done if there is a top quality, trustworthy manager in place. Consider finding or promoting a managing partner where they have a small investment in your business. This can make all the difference in the world in terms of growth and profitability. ?

Jeffrey Freehof, owner of The Garlic Clove in Evans, Georgia, is Pizza Today’s resident expert. Send your questions to: Ask Chef Jeff, c/o Pizza Today, 908 South Eighth Street, Suite 200, Louisville, Kentucky, 40203.