Thursday, April 21, 2016

The Evolution of Neapolitan Pizza

Neapolitan Pizza has been around for a while and has become a big trend lately in America due the internet, food shows and the millennials desire for the latest trend and a movement for a return to foods that are more environmentally friendly.  Pizza in it's most basic form is a very natural product consisting of flour, water, cheese, tomatoes and seasoning. This puts it in the category of natural when made fresh with wholesome ingredients. Unfortunately many chains in bottom dollar, high production, food control, labor and a need for a standard recipe began prepackaging pizza sauce and shipping frozen pre-stretched dough shells. Now if this is the only pizza you have ever eaten it is probably better than a TV dinner(a heat and serve dinner in an aluminum tray with compartments for things like chicken, potatoes and the ever popular cinnamon apples that was popular in the 60's and 70's). There is nothing as delicious as an artisan pizza made with fresh mozzarella, a really good tomato of the San Marzano type on a hand stretched dough and cooked at high temperature in a brick oven.  Now when you add the smell of a wood fire and some tasty toppings you have a meal fit for a king or as the legend goes a queen hence the name Margarita pizza. My first taste of these incredible pizzas was as a boy growing up in Brooklyn and visiting Coney Island with my brother and grabbing a pie at Tortono's. Who knew it would inspire us to start Goodfella's Brick Oven Pizza and become world champion pizza men training people from all over the world to make pizza in a revolving deck brick oven  at the Pizza School New York. I really appreciate the the skill and art of  a good pizza man working a brick oven. The Italians that brought the skill to America opened the door for the current artisan pizza craze in America and the explosion of great pizza places all across this country of ours. The evolution of Neapolitan pizza is our current gourmet, fast casual build your own pie trend. When my brother Scot and I began Making pizza we payed homage to the old school but put a spin on it by creating things like the "Vodka Pie" which won a national contest and became a national trend itself. Adding a semolina recipe and squares with a mushroom sauce or brandy were non-traditional ideas that we incorporated into the menu evolving the Neapolitan Pizza to what we like to call a New York Brick Oven Pie. One of the points Lead Instructor from Pizza School New York, Andrew Scudera stresses to his successful students from all over the world is to be creative, try different things and see what your customers like and incorporate local favorites into the menu. America was founded by Revolution and it will take all kinds of entrepreneurs developing their own style of pizza to compete in the ever evolving pizza market. We pay tribute to the early pioneers as we eagerly await the latest creations of our friends. Happy pizza to you. Marc Cosentino 

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Opening a pizza place? Top reasons it is a better time than ever.

So you are thinking about becoming a pizza entrepreneur and joining the ranks of pizza makers around the country engaged in keeping Americans well fed and happy? Fantastic idea and as always-easier said than done but with today's opportunities and the internet it is a whole lot easier  than it used to be. In fact it's night day when you compare opening a place today with opening a place 20 years ago. "How can that be ?" you may ask. Well consider a few things like:
Goodfellas Pizza
Brick Oven, Fast Casual Pizza
1. Recipes. There is an infinite amount of recipes available on the internet to choose from with sources like Google, Facebook, Youtube and celebrity chef TV and the food network. Anyone with basic skills and desire can get online, look for the hottest trends, find a recipe and get busy. Why reinvent the wheel when you can easily what is popular in the food world and duplicate it?
2. Restaurant type. You can easily take a look at the different types of locations and layouts such as a slice joint, fast casual or sit down waiter service. You can also do some research and see if delivery and take out or even a brew pub-bar will fit in with your plans. Size of location and type of pizza will be a factor in determining  if you do sit down, fast casual pizza with an assembly line or just slices.
3. Equipment. It has never been easier to see the different types of equipment being used in successful places than it is now. Currently the hottest trend is hand assembled brick oven style pizza with places like Revolve, Spin Neapolitan and Pie Craft leading the way with Revolving Brick Ovens and gourmet pizza. Pizza stations, walk-in boxes and mixers such as the old reliable Hobart are available new and used for the budget minded along with tons of information on sizes, capacities along with industry comparisons.
4.Finance. Today you can basically call up a company like Lease Corp Of America(LCA) fill out your application online and know virtually the same day if you are qualified for a loan. Those of us who remember having to make an appointment with loan officer, fill out endless paperwork while being scrutinized within an in inch of your life under a microscope will attest that the process is light years from where it has been and tell you how lucky you are.
5.Printing. This may seem like something too little to mention but with today's digital media and the ability to do it all virtually on line there is an amazing amount of time, effort and money saved. In the old days you would have to consult with a printer to make your deal on printing. Then you would have to consult with a graphic designer to do your layout and maybe even a specialized menu designee to  help you. This took time, from appointments to initial design to a rough sketch. Then you would have to go back and forth on corrections as you finalized your idea. Once that was done you have to have it proofread and hope you and your proofreader caught all the errors. One error I fondly remember was at the First Goodfella's Brick Oven Pizza on Staten Island. We were all set and made our first huge purchase of several hundred thousand menus for in house, mailing and door to door delivery but we all missed the "Ground Bee" instead of ground beef on the pizza menu. We laughed about it for a long time since we had to print so many menus to save a few dollars. Fortunately you don't have to got through that incredibly time consuming operation today. Not only that but you can do it all from the comfort of your home and with computers, digital design, limited run printing options, cheap online graphic designers and still save time without taking the big risk of large runs.
6.Staff. Hiring and finding employees is easier than ever. You don't have hand a sign in the window and hope someone sees it or spend ridiculous amounts of money on classified ads in the local papers. Graig's list will get you more applicants than you can shake a stick at in most areas.
7.Promotion. Getting yourself known with the internet makes it simple. Social media, websites, blogs and press releases will get you known and open the door to customers. If you do a great job with your product, service and presentation people will talk. Your signage, uniforms and design have a lot to do with this.  Yes people will talk so make sure you do it right from the start with all your ducks in a row and a great pizza. You can call the Pizza School of New York if you are not certain of your product.
7. Marketing. Yes this is different from promoting yourself or your place. This is actually offering your product for sale by way of Newspaper, social media, TV, Radio, mailings, door hangers and however else you can get your product in front of a potential customer and tell them to buy it.
8.Location. Location scouting can be done via many outlets now with many realtors competing for business. With the internet, emails and google earth you can even see a place from a street view and decide if it is even worth looking at before wasting your precious time.
9.Training. With video, internet, Youtube, Drop Box etc. there are so many ways to present data to your staff, update recipes and procedures and keep everyone on the same page that even multiple locations become easier to manage when you get to that point.
10.Computerization. Point of sale order taking, inventory, ticket printing and display have made management a great deal more organized. The systems can track best sellers integrate promotional items and sales while even tracking deliveries and scheduling orders of food or reminding you of up coming catering or previously scheduled deliveries.
Of course all these wonderful reasons for it being easier still require the entrepreneur to step into the ring and make his purpose known. My respect and admiration goes to you my friends that make the attempt. I wish you the best of luck. Marc Cosentino

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Who will be the Chipotle of Pizza?

Brick Oven 

Brick Oven
Pizza has been around since the days when Roman soldiers cooked bread on flat rocks around camp fires and it is finally catching on with the rest of the world. Moreover, in last few decades it has become an everyday item in the United States and with many of the big players now understanding the value, speed and flavor created in a brick oven it is rapidly becoming a phenomena with the lunch crowd  in the exploding Fast Casual Pizza segment. The ability to cook fast and consistently in revolving brick ovens has made it possible for  many of the up and coming concepts to expand at an alarming rate due to ease of training and operation. In the past old fashioned fixed deck brick ovens required a highly skilled pizza man to operate and were more suited to small operations doing the traditional types of pizza. This was limiting and not effective when expansion required a lot of specialized training and then the success of the concept depended on the skill of a few at crucial employees. The revolving brick oven not only cooks faster and more consistently but it is virtually employee proof with its ease of training and operation. Not only that but with a revolving brick oven you have the ability of avoiding the dreaded oven fade(when the deck of a regular brick oven gets cold from continuous use requiring shutting down the oven to build up heat).These revolving ovens have made it easy for operators to make consistent pizza every time while even though they are baking over one thousand pizzas a day! Yes the revolution is on again in America and the Fast Casual Pizza concept is leading the way. 
Brick Oven Pizza

Monday, November 16, 2015

Brick Oven Pizza For Bars and Pubs

Introducing the Brew Pub Model 85 Series Revolving Brick Oven

Oven image low res.With an ever increasing demand for craft beer and neighborhood breweries comes an increased demand for an easy way to provide comparable quality food selections in a comfortable atmosphere. Enter the New York Brick Oven Companies Inferno Series Model 85. This oven provides a small foot print with a very high production rate for personal sized Neapolitan and gourmet brick oven pizza. In researching the amount of space available to existing bars and restaurants it was found that the average operator had less than 150 square feet to add a food prep and production area to his existing bar or pub. Such a small area dedicated to food prep and production did not lend itself to many if any gourmet food items that could be produced to order in any volume-that was until the New York Brick Oven Company came along. Utilizing a small dough table/refrigerator for prep and toppings and the inferno series oven any operator can now gain an entirely new income stream while keeping his customers in the seats instead of having them to find food at other locations. Not only that, but the wood and gas combination brick oven is capable of producing a world class gourmet pizza that anybody in the pizza industry would be proud of. The high temp oven is also a favorite of the Fast Casual Pizza Crowd for good reason. This small oven is comfortably rated for 60 small pies an hour with larger models being able to bake hundreds of pies in hour. For those of you that are not in the Industry you may want to compare this 90 second pizza to your average pizza oven that bakes about 4-5 pies in 15 minutes. You can see that this is truly high production. The real selling point of these ovens though is the quality of the brick oven pizza they produce with least amount labor and skill required to operate them. As an operator this the area that can make or break you. Now take this oven and add the Pizza School of New York and you get a homerun, out of the park solution to providing your customers with a great pizza while keeping the initial investment down and the satisfaction rate up. The New York Brick Oven Company has been helping pizza men for years and they have World Champion Pizza men on their team waiting to assist you so call now and make your operation more of a success.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

If your starting a pizza shop-read this.

Pawn Stars With New York Brick Oven Co,
Opinions are like bellybuttons, everybody’s got one. The thing that always drove me crazy in school was the teacher explaining things to me that I knew he had no experience with and no real world understanding of. Examples are most prominent when it comes to art or business but it applies to everything. A most recent example was my son telling me about his class where they are starting a businesses and the teacher was giving a class on how it is done and that a farmer may be better to shut his farm down and start a new business if it isn’t working out on paper. I said ” a lot easier said than done” and then I heard my son regurgitating the teacher’s justifications for this. Makes me want to puke to hear this holier than thou armchair quarterbacking from a guy that never ran a successful business or even had the nerve to try to run his own show. It seems that school has become a place where “teaching” is more important than learning how to do something. Titles, diplomas, certifications decide who gets paid most to talk the most. Well the real world is something a lot of people are trying to discover and the popularity of reality TV shows is a bit of an indicator of this. I think people in general are tired of  phony “experts” and want to see the blood and guts of life. Whether it is a successful pawn shop like the one featured on Pawn Stars, an auto mechanic and sales place like Gas Monkey Garage or the big players interacting with up and coming little players on shows like Shark Tank or  The Aprentice, your average Joe knows the truth when he hears it and is tired of posers. The reason I make this statement is that if your looking to open a business the guy teaching you how do so better have some real world success and better not be a textbook hero who never stepped into the arena of life. Even a guy who failed miserably can teach you a lot about what not to do. If you want successful teachers and advice go people like Scot Cosentino and Andrew Scudera at the Goodfella’s Pizza School New York because THEY DID IT and have created very successful students and have helped create very successful concepts. Statistics and actual production are the only true measure-not words and formal titles. Can they do it? Have they taught it? Can you see the results in the physical universe? These are your only questions and when you have someone that can’t answer them-move on and try again. There is  lot of false data on business and the food business in general. There are some shoddy products passing as pizza for sure but that is slowly changing as your average customer is learning about gourmet brick oven pizza and expecting more. Whatever it is you are endeavoring to do, know that is more than the average guy will ever try. Stepping into the arena requires guts and daring and a dream. Don’t dare sell yourself short by following bad or incorrect advice. Do your homework, see what is true for you and be a big success! Happy pizza to you.

Pizza School New York with NY Brick Oven Co.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Pizza Start Up-top 10 tips for success.

Brick Oven Pizza from NY Brick Oven Company

When you are starting a pizza place there are many things you need to know but this basic list will get you in the ball park to start off on the right foot. A firm idea of where you are heading can make all the difference between success and failure. When you open your doors your customer should know what you are providing and get a clear idea of your brand. 

1. What kind of pizza are you going to make? Sounds too obvious but many people jump in without a clear idea of the the type of pizza they are going sell. What do I mean by this? Is it NY Style? Deep dish? Square? Brick Oven? Gourmet? Thin crust? Thick Crust? How about what size? Individual small pies or large family style? How many ounce dough balls will you be using? Some people may argue that this can figured out as you go or once you start but first impressions are long lasting and you only get one chance to make that first impression. The main reason to know your type of pie and how to make pizza is that it will determine most of your design and equipment choices and layout for production. Example-a fast casual pizza place where the customers walk up to counter and choose their toppings and then watch the individual size pizza hand assembled and placed in a revolving brick oven will have a different type of pie than a mom and pop place making a typical 16" Ny Stayle pie cooked in a regular deck oven. 

2. What is your concept? Your dough and the size of your  pies will have a great impact on the next critical factor and should be in alignment with your concept. The type of restaurant you envision will determine the size requirements  of your restaurant and its physical layout. Example-a typical slice place with a small seating area and counter space for about 15 customers will require a much smaller space than a full service gourmet pizza place with table service, a full menu and bar.

3. Where are going to put your concept? Concept design will also be a determining factor in choosing location. If your doing a small takeout and delivery place you may not need a prime location in high dollar strip mall or stand alone building but you may want to be located near that college campus with thousands of dorms or apartments near by. Also if your doing a fast casual concept you will need to have a high volume area with lots of foot traffic and a workers with a need for fast service.

4. Do you know how to layout the space? Seems simple but bad flow lines from order to service and delivery or dine in can make your place a production nightmare. If your in doubt consult an expert or minimally study the successful places in your area or concepts you like that are successful and you think would work with your demographic. 

5. Are you really capitalized to make  a successful go of it? Did you take into consideration the basics of rent, insurance, labor, promotion. marketing, equipment, inventory, attorneys, signage, contractors, city/town fees, permits, training...

6.Equipment? Do you know what type you need for your concept? For instance, what type and how big of a mixer do you need? What type of oven and how much space does it require-will it be part of the concept design or hidden? How big of a walk in box do you need? How many tables and chairs? What about flatware? 

7. Do you buy new or used equipment? Is it better to lease? The main consideration here is initial outlay and cash flow versus the tax savings and continued cost of lease on a monthly basis. 

8. Personnel? Do you have the people in place for your opening? Do you need to train them? Are the main chef? Is there a management team in place? Book keeping? Cleaning? Maintenance? 

9. Promotion Plan? How are you going to get your place known? Who will you invite to your opening? What local groups and activities will you support? Are you affiliated with the local school, church, sports team? 

10. Marketing? This is different from promotion. Promotion is making things known-publicity, talking, signs, shirts, hats and events. Marketing is bringing it to the market-selling it. Handouts, flyers, door hangers,  menus, inserts, val-pak, local newspaper, tv(expensive) radio and any other place you think your customers are. You have to offer them your product and tell them what it is, where they can get it and how much it costs. This is an expense and it is part of doing business unless you are in the home run of all locations with enough customers flooding in. 

All the above are valid concerns and should be evaluated before you commit to any location. Future articles will take each up in more detail and mention a few others like social media, pizza contests, donations and policies. Good luck and happy pizza!

by Marc Cosentino Co-founder of Goodfella's Brick Oven Pizza