The Pizza Insider: September 2014

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Friday, September 26, 2014

5 Ways Legalized Pot Helps Pizza Biz

pot could help pizza biz
By now, you've heard about Broncos' quarterback and Papa John's franchisee Peyton Manning saying that the legalization of recreational marijuana in Colorado has helped to increase sales for business owners.

I thought we'd take a look at some of the ways it really could benefit the biz....

1. We'll start with the obvious. People will be hungrier, especially for quick and delicious hand-held foods. Can you say "pizza!"?

2. Smokers will be super relaxed and unable--or unwilling--to drive anywhere. Can you say "pizza delivery!"?

3. Thanks to the legalization, regular pot smokers will save money, leaving more money to spend on the necessary munchies. Again, pizza!

4. If you live in one of the states that has legalized recreational marijuana (Colorado and Washington), or legalized medical marijuana, you may even consider jumping on the bandwagon yourself and creating extra revenue, like this pizzeria in Canada, which adds pot to the pizza.

5.  Truly dedicated pot smokers who you weren't aware worked for you, will enjoy the free access so much that they may start missing their shifts at the pizzeria, helping you to "weed" out staff members where necessary.

Can you think about other benefits? Let's hear about it in the comments.

--Liz

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Attract New Customers with Pizza Classes

pizza class
Have you ever held a pizza class at your pizzeria? What's stopping you? It can't be that you're afraid someone will steal your recipe. Look at all of the cooking shows and cookbooks out there. There are millions of recipes for people to "steal."

The truth is, most of the people who watch how to make something will never actually attempt it on their own; they just enjoy watching how it's done.

However, inviting your customers--new and seasoned--into the restaurant to be a part of what you do every day is a priceless experience.

Not only will you get to know your customers better, but they will get to know you. And once they do, they will tell all of their friends, who will then want to come in and try your pizza! See how that works?

When you search online for pizza classes, you'll find some great ones such as Pizza a Casa and an online course by Peter Reinhart. It becomes more challenging to find ones that are held inside a pizzeria, which is where you come in. Imagine if you were the only pizzeria for miles that held a monthly class that explained how to make dough and tomato sauce, and how to bake the perfect pizza at home? Stop worrying about all of your customers suddenly making their pizzas at home; it's not going to happen.

Curious about pizzeria operators who've had success with pizza classes? Check out the ones below.

Wild in NYC and Las Vegas
Serious Pie in Seattle
AOA Bar & Grill in NYC
Whole Foods Bakery in Los Gatos, CA
Geppetto's Pizzeria in Providence, RI

Have you held a pizza-making class in your pizzeria? Let's hear about it!

--Liz Barrett

Author, Pizza: A Slice of American History
Editor at Large, PMQ Pizza Magazine






Thursday, September 11, 2014

Is Your Food Photo Ready?

food photography
Sixty million photos get posted to Instagram each day, with millions more going live on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. A few of those could be photos of the food at your pizzeria.

Like it or not, people enjoy snapping photos of food. I'm guilty of it myself. If I'm not taking photos for PMQ, I've got my phone camera out taking pics of restaurant dishes for a blog I publish locally called EatingOxford.com.

Knowing that your customers may be photographing--and sharing--what's coming out of your kitchen, how can you help ensure it will look its best?

1. Keep a tidy table. Train servers to remove used napkins, straw wrappers, etc. before delivering the next course to guests. Food looks best against a clean background.

2. Use simple dishware. White dishes show off a meal the best, and any solid color is better than plates with crazy patterns that conflict with the food.

3. Check your lighting. I recently took a photo of a delicious steak, only to discover that the green overhead lights made the steak appear inedible.

4. Put a little extra care into your plating. Even if your guests aren't taking photos, remember that we eat with our eyes before our mouths, so take an extra moment to make it look great. 

You can get frustrated with the photography, or you can embrace it and take advantage of it. You can even run your own photo contest and choose the best ones to feature in your marketing (how's that for saving money?).

--Liz Barrett
Author, Pizza: A Slice of American History
Editor at Large, PMQ Pizza Magazine

Thursday, September 4, 2014

5 Ways You'll Lose Money Today

business losing money
You're doing everything you can to maintain a profitable business, but what about the steps you take every day that lose you money?

These losses could happen slowly at first, building over months and years, until finally, your business is crippled. Some operators chalk it up to being in the restaurant business, but savvy owners know that tightening up a few screws here and there can keep the financials in order and keep their checkbooks in the black.

Is your pizzeria falling for any of the following five money-draining traps?

1. You're Not Using a Scale. This goes for weighing the product shipments you receive all the way down to the ingredients your cooks put on the pizzas. You could be getting shorted on shipments and giving away product (as well as not being consistent). Try weighing things for a month and track the difference it makes in costs.

2. You Don't Take a Daily Inventory. One of the best ways to track your food costs is to take a look at your top 10 food items each day or week. Count how many you have on hand at the beginning and end of the day and then compare that number to how many were sold during the day. If there's too big of a difference in the numbers, it could be a problem with waste or theft--something that you can then effectively investigate.

3. Your Staff is On a Repeating Work Schedule. In the pizzeria, there's no reason to have a full (paid) staff standing around if you know it's going to be a slow day. Prepare a weekly schedule based on what you think customer traffic will be.

4. Your Dishes and Flatware are Going in the Trash. The restaurant industry loses millions of dollars each month just on dishes that accidentally go in the trash. No one wants to dig around in the garbage for a lost fork, so consider using a bus tray as a garbage or one of the new devices out there like the FlatwareSaver to stop tossing out your dishes.

5. You're Overspending on Your Utilities. When was the last time you checked with the utility companies on how much you were paying for your company phone, Internet, gas, electric, water, etc.? Chances are, you're paying more than you need to. Are you keeping ovens, burners, A/C, and more on when they aren't needed? Run a utility check that could save you thousands per year.

This list is just the tip of the iceberg. The good news is, proactively monitoring--and correcting--inaccuracies will help protect you from any further losses.


--Liz Barrett
Author, Pizza: A Slice of American History
Editor at Large, PMQ Pizza Magazine