There's no denying the popularity of pizza. Each day, 1 in 8 Americans eats pizza, reports the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Yet the pizzeria business faces a number of common restaurant challenges—managing ingredients, demand, walk-in traffic, staffing, and the like.
For those thinking of getting into the pizza business, keep it simple. Here's how others have built pizza businesses around simplicity, focus, and flexibility.
A Pizza a Day Keeps the Eaters Engaged
Since the beginning, the worker-owned Cheese Board Pizza Collective in Berkeley, Calif., has kept it simple. Using the best (mostly organic) pizza ingredients, it offers only one flavor of pizza per day—always a vegetarian selection.
The secret to the Cheese Board's success—and customers lining up outside before the doors even open—starts with quality. Incredible dough is made with organic flour, while ingredients are chosen at the very peak of production.
The benefit: How does making only one flavor of pizza (and now salad) each day translate to profits? The benefits are many:
- Economy: Purchasing massive amounts of a few ingredients means bulk pricing discounts, keeping costs down with very little waste. With no meat option, there are fewer storage and contamination issues.
- Simplicity: The line flows quickly because customers have few decisions to make. Just order the quantity and move on. Staff workflows involve little more than making, cutting, and serving or packaging the pizza to eat in the establishment or to go.
- No stress: The customer experience is relaxing for the same reason. No choice means no arguments or compromises. The only stress point is finding a seat—because it is so darn crowded.
Mobile Wood-Fired Pizzeria Catering Business
It's hard enough parking a car in San Francisco. So who knew you could drive around the city with a wood-fired oven housed inside a massive container mounted on a truck?
Del Popolo, a 20-foot mobile pizzeria housed in a glass-walled transatlantic shipping container, offers a pizza party that comes to you. Its Neopolitan-style pizza, made with local and organic ingredients, is also seen at fairs and events.
The oven-in-truck trend is a nationwide phenomenon. The owner of Chicago's The Pizza Via even trained as a pizza master in Italy. Customers can pre-order pizza via text message at public events and pick it up at Pizza Via's step-van style pizza truck.
The benefit: A mobile pizza truck adds the spice of variety and lets you travel to opportunities. Having the pizza oven inside your vehicle makes for less flexibility than a tow-hitched pizza oven, but it's pretty spectacular for the customers who hire you and those who enjoy your foods.
Pizza Dough and Ready-Made Pizza Crust Business
Would you rather be a pizza maker or more of a pizza enabler? Maybe both?
California's Vicolo Pizza began as a small local chain of San Francisco-style cornmeal crust pizzerias. Today it sells ready-made pizzas and non-GMO cornmeal crusts refrigerated and frozen for the home pizza chef. You'll find them at farmers' markets and retailers ranging from supermarkets to Costco.
Lamonica's Pizza Dough started its pizza dough business in the early 1960s, making the dough in Los Angeles and New York to supply food service establishments nationwide. Tarrytown, N.Y-based Birrittella's pizza dough is available in supermarkets and is shipped nationwide.
The benefit: A business focused on manufacturing dough takes the complexity out of complete pizza manufacturing and allows a focus on what they do best.
Mobile Pizza Ovens for Pop-Ups and Farmers Markets
Mobile wood-fired pizza ovens made of brick and mortar pull into slots at farmers markets and pop-up events across the country.
You can find plans online to build your own wood-fired oven, along with bricks and insulating materials. For the not-so-handy person, plenty of ready-made ovens are available. Companies like Chicago Brick Oven can build one for you.
For multi-day events, you can even build a temporary wood-fired brick oven that you disassemble after the event.
The benefit: You can tow your mobile pizzeria to wherever demand exists, at parties or events of all sorts.
What Pizza Business Would You Love?
Let this glimpse at a few innovative pizza business ideas serve as your inspiration. Where there's a pizza-related idea, there's probably a business—from certified gluten-free pizzerias to bakers using pizza dough for desserts.
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