January 28, 2013 |

2010 February: Ask Chef Jeff

By Jeffrey Freehof

Q: My mixer broke down and I got in some emergency frozen dough balls. Here’s the catch: customers really love it. My mixer will be fixed next week. Should I keep the dough that people are complimenting?




A: It sounds like your dough recipe needs adjusting. That’s what I’d focus on. I’ll always choose making my own dough anytime over buying frozen. Since you already have the mixer, get it fixed along with your dough recipe. The Dough Doctor has given plenty of advice and recipes on the PizzaToday.com Bulletin Boards at www.pizzatoday.com. Check it out!

My partner and I are opening a pizza shop. We’ve got 1,600 square feet with seating for about 24. We’re planning on a lot of takeout and delivery. We’re not sure exactly how many staff to hire. What’s your opinion?

Your volume will really dictate your staffing needs. What’s important to know is that you have a manager or shift leader on at all times and that you have enough people to handle the high-volume times. That includes drivers as well. You generally want to over staff slightly during an opening for two reasons. The first reason is to get the job done properly and put out a great first impression. The second is you must understand that you will lose a few staff members. Make sure you have each station staffed: phones/front, pizza station, sandwich/ salad station, driver, someone for the dining room and dishes. Make sure you have enough staff to cover vacations and call outs. You’ll probably end up with 12 to 20 staff depending on whether you hire full- or parttime. Always be looking for future leaders among your other staff members.

Do you think the lit up car toppers are worth the investment for our drivers to have on their cars while delivering?

I do think so. It gives you a lot of exposure. I am a fi rm believer that any way you can show your logo and remind the community of your “brand”, the more business you will generate. The only time I think it’s a bad idea is if you are delivering in a high crime area. Keep in mind that it’s important to somehow monitor your drivers to ensure that they are not unplugging the topper out of embarrassment. I’ve seen that many times.

I have a casual setting in my pizzeria where my staff wears black t-shirts. Staff have been asking about shirts with logos on them, but I wonder if that’s a waste of money?

Having a uniform look is important and professional. It sounds like that’s what your doing. Folks eating at your place know where they are and don’t really need to see it on your staff’s shirt. However, it does help create branding and can get embedded into their memory. Screen printing on T-shirts is fairly inexpensive. Making shirts available to customers or giving them away for birthdays is another way to get your name out there. ?

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.