Friday, August 21, 2015

Opening a Fast Casual Pizza Concept?

Many people about to embark on the Fast Casual Pizza adventure are wondering should I or shouldn’t I? When asking opinions remember that:
Opinions are like belly buttons-everybody has one so the best advice is to do it your way and follow your own vision. Ultimately you are the person putting in your monies and sweat equity so being the chief cook and bottle washer gives you the final say-good or bad.
A couple things to look at though are as follows:

1) Does your location have enough potential traffic to warrant a fast casual concept? In other words, is it in a place with people that need to eat fast and (usually) inexpensively?

2) Is there a potential for foot traffic and a lunch crowd verses a destination location that people will have to drive up to? If they have to drive to your location, is there ample parking?

3) Is the size of the space conducive to fast casual and laid out to facilitate easy entry? Service? Exit?

4) Do you have the proper oven and recipes for fast production?

5) Is your potential customer base and product in sync?
6) Do you have a trendy design?

7) Is your pizza any good or is just something to fill up on?

8) Is your model workable without wait staff?

If you have already looked at these questions you are way ahead of the game and stand a good chance of competing in the fast casual race. If you haven’t then you may want to consider speaking to someone with experience or going out and making the rounds to see what is and what is not working in different areas and environments. Personally I feel that a quality product delivered in a nice environment by a pleasant, courteous, professional staff will always find an audience if you can promote and survive long enough for word to get out. However most people are looking for the elusive “sure thing” which is mystical and not real because most of the successful places have had huge research, trial and error before they found the “formula” for success. Persistence, hard work and the ability to think and change on your feet will get you far but following what the big boys are doing and have already figured out will eliminate some of the trail and hopefully most of the error. For those about to jump in the arena-I salute you.
Here are some places you may want to visit in your quest and some contacts you may wish to make:

Revolve Pizza, Blaze, Pizza Locale, Spin Neapolitan, Pie Five, Piology, Fired Pie, Fuel Pizza, Goodfella’s Pizza School New York, Cucinova, 800 Degree, Papa Pancho, Pizza Studio and a host of others. The reason I mention Pizza School New York is for those who have no idea about pizza or brick oven pizza and want a first-hand view of a live pizza operation featuring the Mack Daddy of ovens from the NewYork Brick Oven Company for training. Many roads lead to Rome but as any tourist can tell you the easiest and simplest direction is best for strangers. Happy Pizza! May you roll in the dough and enjoy the adventure.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Chipotle and other Giants Join the Fast Casual Pizza Game

Once Fast Casual Giant Chipotle bought into the Pizza Local Fast Casual Pizza concept many foodies took notice, then came Wetzel Pretsel's with Blaze and Sparro's with it's new concept called Cuchinova and the floodgates for many franchise holding groups were open. They began looking for new concepts and started creating new concepts such as Revolve with namesake revolving brick ovens from New York Brick Oven Company pumping out brick oven pizza faster than can be assembled. What is the attraction? Why is Fast Casual Pizza Exploding across the US? What defines the category and who are the real players behind it. Well the pizza segment has always had it's share of the market with giants such as Pizza Hut and Domino's still dominating but what the attraction is, especially for millennials, is that it's fast, hot and fresh in a trendy atmosphere at reasonable cost. Factor in the entertainment value of watching your pizza prepared and cooked in under 5 minutes and you get the picture. Another very important part of the equation is lunch. What does that mean you may wonder since pizza was always available for lunch in most sit down restaurants with table service or slice shops dominated by players such as Sparro Pizza in a mall near you. Speed is the answer, most busy towns and commercial areas with a working clientele could not wait for a conventional pizza place to take an order, bake a pie and then serve it in the limited lunch break customer's had. Once you factor in getting to a location you see how pizza, especially gourmet pizza did not fit the equation. Then came the brick oven revolution with pies under 3 minutes and then the revolving brick oven revolution which made it possible to be even faster but more importantly to able to make a consistently perfect pizza without a highly skilled work force. This high speed production combined with a low food cost was the ticket to a successful model along the lines of a Chipotle or Panera bread. Now take this model and add  a reduced labor cost cost with a reduced  labor force since table service is not needed and less pizza men with revolving brick ovens and your set to crack the fast casual pizza code. Another big factor behind the scene has been the Pizza School of New York training and helping set up franchises, conversions, new concepts, brew pubs, pizza trucks and traditional mom and pop pizza places all over the United States and the world with tremendous results. Whatever your part in this brave new world of Fast Casual Pizza is, you are in for a big treat. From new contenders with dreams of bringing their concepts to the foreground to the small town mainstay looking to mix it up a bit there is plenty of room for everyone and the biggest winner will be the consumers with the ever widening choices being offered and a super healthy dose of competition to keep everyone on their toes and the pizza fresh. 
Courtesy of NY Brick Oven Co.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Pizza Wars and the Neapolitan Connection

New York Brick  Oven Style Pizza
Most of the pizza in the world is made and sold in America to Americans. In the same way the Italians perfected that pasta they borrowed from the Chinese so too the Americans perfected pizza they borrowed from the Italians and made it into one of the world’s largest food segments.   Respect to those brave ground breaking entrepreneurs from Pizza Hut and Dominos who knew the masses would go for this new food and  the Italian American classics like Lombardi’s, Tortono’s and Patsy’s  who brought pizza to America early on creating an interest for those who followed and added their own American twist. There are too many to mention but some of the big players along the way that contributed were Uno, Bertucci’s, California Pizza Kitchen, Goodfella’s, Sbarro, Papa John, Uncle Maddio, Little Cesar’s  and the other hundreds of chains and independents in every town across this great land. Pizza is both territorial and universal at the same time because when all is said and done a pizza is dough, sauce, cheese and toppings cooked in various ways at various temperatures in various ovens. To think there is group of people from another country coming to the land of the free and the home of the brave with the nerve to say pizza can only be made one cookie cutter way, with one flour, with one type of mixer, one type of cheese and cooked at one temperature in one type of oven is bad enough but to force a pizza man trying to make ends meet to pay a monthly fee for a certificate to make pizza and buy an exclusive flour from only one company is a bit much for any red blooded American, besides being a bad business choice, since all the competition will be making the same exact product. Diversity is what makes America the place everybody wants to come and live. Whether you are on the West Coast like California or Hawaii and want pineapples and ham or maybe you are in Chicago looking for a deep dish or even New York City looking for a slice -we salute you and as the great Burger king says “have it your way” and eat more pizza, because it’s all good.

New York Pizza is the Best! Americans Perfected Pizza!

Why We Started New York Brick Oven Company

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Why are revolving or rotator brick ovens better?

There are many reasons to choose a revolving brick oven over a conventional fixed deck brick oven. First and foremost is the consistency of pizza baked in a revolving brick oven compared to a regular brick oven. In a revolving brick oven you can place your pizza on the cooking surface and let it cook, no need to spin it or reach into a hot oven and rotate the pizza. The heat in a revolving brick oven is evenly dispersed as the stone rotates (some call them rotator ovens). Because the cooking surface is not fixed with the heat source or fire in one place you don’t have to continually move your pizza around the cooking deck to avoid burning and cold spots.
Ease of use is another important feature. Anyone with common sense can be trained to use the oven and handle pizza in a few minutes’ verses the months of training to work a conventional brick oven. This allows owners that are not the pizza men to have much more control and flexibility with staff and avoids having to rely on only one or 2 key personnel to be your experts. Not only that, but your pizza making will be more consistent with less responsibility on your pizza men cooking with the same style and ability.  Next comes speed. You may not think this is as important as it is but if you have ever been stuck on a regular brick oven on a Friday night during the dinner rush you would understand. There is nothing worse than turning away paying customers because your oven has to get hot or it’s too hot and has to cool off. These thigs are completely handled by the New York Brick Oven Companies Revolving Brick Ovens because the cooking temperature is constant and set. The rotating or rotator brick oven cooking surface is constantly reheated resulting in no fade or cold deck. You don’t get hot spots because the entire cooking surface is the same temperature. As an operator this takes a lot of the guess work out and adds a lot of dependability.
New York Brick Oven Company
Now a topic near and dear to most owners is labor. Between wages, insurance, overtime, social security and workers comp every dollar you spend on labor gets multiplied. This adds up really quickly and can make or break your operation. A revolving or rotator brick oven can help save labor because your pizza man is not “stuck” to the oven and can make more pies as his pizzas are baking because he does not have to be at the oven constantly turning and moving the pies. This is a tremendous benefit as anybody who has ever worked a brick oven for any period of time can tell you.
The stress of having to be aware of pizza and a few seconds of distraction can set the whole operation back by having to remake the burnt pizza. 

If you are using wood and gas as a heat source you can regulate the temperature without worrying about having to continually monitor the temperature and add wood since the gas will keep it level. Not only that but the wood consumption goes way down as it is not the only heat source. Now if you have multiple units or are planning multiple units the value goes up proportionately across the board by having a consistently baked pizza from a revolving/rotator oven that is easy to use but more importantly-easy to train your pizza makers on.  This is why the New York Brick Oven Company is leading the industry and quickly becoming the top choice for FastCasual Pizza and start- up artisan pizza places across America.