Author Topic: To protect and serve ?  (Read 3394 times)

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Offline Jet_deck

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To protect and serve ?
« on: April 07, 2011, 09:59:48 AM »
At what lengths would you go to make sure that no one can easily clone your pizza and sauce? 

Most of the best recipe clones here have been done with months and years of a cook it/ taste it/ redo it method. And some have been done after studying a video made at the pizza shop.  We know it is possible to disguise the flour as flour sacks can come from a miller that are a plain label and give very little hint as to what blend of flour they contain.  One difference may be some mom and pop pizza places that actually use a known type of flour.

Some sauce is straight from the can.  Chain restaurants sometimes ship a "goody bag" of spices to be added to tomato sauce  at the store level.

So what would be your level of control to keep your flour and sauce secret?  Incinerate all labels from flour and sauce and goody bags?  Make the dough and sauce off-site unbenounced to the staff/customers?

So I'm trying to figure out your secret sauce.  Is it wrong (morally, ethically) for me to put up an ad saying that I will pay for any pictures that show cans of your tomatos?  Pictures of your flour bags?  Pictures showing the ingredients declaration on your goody bag?  I know that your sauce is "spicey" . I know that the goody bag has the secret ingredient written on the side of it.  I want to know whats in it, can you stop me?

Sorry if it sounds like I have fallen off the deep end.  I have not.  I am just curious how everyone feels about the subject.  Thanks in advance. ;D
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Offline Bill/SFNM

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Re: To protect and serve ?
« Reply #1 on: April 07, 2011, 10:32:48 AM »
This presupposes that some commercial pizzeria has something you actually want to copy. And that having access to the exact ingredients, methods, and formulas are all that is necessary. Wouldn't you rather spend the time and effort to create something original - to develop your skill level and palate so that you can prepare something a whole lot better?

 

Offline Pete-zza

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Re: To protect and serve ?
« Reply #2 on: April 07, 2011, 11:48:34 AM »
Gene,

Those are actually very good questions, at least to me as one who has delved into these issues. The answers to a large degree depend on whether we are talking about large companies, like the major chains, or small, mom and pop operators.

One of the best ways for the large operators, such as the chains, to protect their proprietary information and trade secrets is to use a commissary model. Papa John's and Domino's uses such a model, but you don't have to be a major national chain to do so. Regional chains like Papa Gino's and Pizzeria Regina in the northeast also use that model, and I have read of a couple of instances where such a model was used for only a couple of stores. The advantage of that model is that the employees in the company stores, who are most likely to be the source of leaks of trade secrets, whether innocently or intentionally, are kept from access to proprietary or trade secret information. As a result, they are essentially only pizza assemblers. I have confirmed this on my own by asking employees of a few chains about the ingredients that go into their products, dough ball weights, etc. In all cases, I was told that they didn't know. And, since most such employees are low-cost help to begin with and don't stay around for long, they could care less. Some of the chains are also more secretive than others as to what goes into their products. Domino's is the most revealing and Papa John's and Little Caesar's are the least revealing, although both do provide Nutrition Facts at their websites.

It also helps if the operators use proprietary products, such as flours milled to their specs or sauces put together to their specs, and also to package such products in a way as not to reveal much, if anything, about the source. For example, Godfather's and Jet's use proprietary flours. The Jet's flour bags bear labels like "Pizza flour" and their cans of tomatoes are labeled Jet Fuel. But, sometimes, some of the proprietary information can leak out. For example, some schools that have purchase programs with pizza operators require ingredients and/or nutrition information from their suppliers. It was from a public document of one such school that I feel that I was able to determine the ingredients that go into the Jet's dough and the source of their tomatoes (I believe it is Stanislaus).

Suppliers to pizza operators also help protect their customers. For example, when I approached General Mills with the code for the GM flour that Godfather's uses, I was told that the flour was a proprietary blend and could not be revealed to me. Also, when I once approached Leprino's for nutrition information on their basic cheeses, which I could not find online after extensive searching (it is not on their website as it is at Grande's, for example), they would not give it to me as a non-customer of their products. Using private labelling, such as used by Malnati's for its canned tomatoes and its flour, also helps protect their proprietary information. That is not unusual. Many pizza operators trek out to Stanislaus in California solely for the purpose of creating their own signature sauces. Occasionally you will find a supplier or a food broker or foodservice company that likes to boast about some of their best customers, but most are fairly protective of their customers.

There is also the matter of steps taken by pizza operators, both large and small, to inform and educate their employees about their trade secrets, the need to protect such trade secrets, and some of the penalties for breach of their obligations to maintain and preserve such trade secrets. Obviously, the biggest companies, like the major chains, do a much better and more comprehensive job on this score than small operators. The big companies use employee agreements, train their employees, do regular field audits, and have a wide variety of manuals and the like that are developed to protect their mutual interests. Small operators usually employ few if any of these safeguards, and they do not have the volume to justify proprietary flour and sauce formulations or the special packaging that goes along with such products. Also, many employees are unaware of any obligation to protect disclosure of trade secrets. In most cases, they have never been made aware of the trade secrets or any obligation to protect them. They are usually the most vulnerable to revealing such information. With Facebook and Twitter (and other social networks) and with YouTube and other video producers, and even forums such as ours, there is even a greater likelilhood of employees revealing proprietary and trade secret information. And there is not a lot that can be done to fully protect proprietary information and trade secrets in such cases. However, there are a few things that might be done, such as educating employees on the need to protect the product, not posting dough formulations and sauce and spice blends all over the workplace for everyone to see and copy, and controlling the trash of the business so as not to be accessible to dumpster divers. Assigning only certain employees to certain tasks and keeping work areas away from view of customers and non-employees may also be good measures to take.

There are also limits as to how far one can go to get a worker in the pizza field to reveal proprietary information or trade secrets, or to take other measures, such as dumpster diving. Although I have not researched the matter in detail, I understand that it is illegal in some parts of the country to dumpster dive. It may well be that any such laws are not strictly enforced, and the penalties may be minor, but it is something that one should be aware of. It is also not a good idea to try to get an employee to reveal trade secrets through bribes. That might cause the employee to lose his or her job if disclosure of legitimate trade secrets is discovered, but in some jurisdictions, bribing such an employee may be illegal. It's important to keep in mind that "trade secrets" actually have to really be trade secrets. As we all know, just about everyone in the pizza business touts their products, whether it is their pizza dough or their sauce, as being trade secrets when we all know, or have later discovered, were not.

Peter

Offline Bill/SFNM

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Re: To protect and serve ?
« Reply #3 on: April 07, 2011, 12:55:16 PM »
Really fascinating stuff, Peter. I enjoyed reading your response. So let's say I have successfully reverse-engineered Chris Bianco's pies by legal means and say I wanted to open a place across the street to try to siphon off some of his overflow. Do you think I could advertise the fact that my pizzas were the same as his: "same pizzas as Biancos, no wait!"?

Offline Pete-zza

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Re: To protect and serve ?
« Reply #4 on: April 07, 2011, 01:12:46 PM »
So I'm trying to figure out your secret sauce.  Is it wrong (morally, ethically) for me to put up an ad saying that I will pay for any pictures that show cans of your tomatos?  Pictures of your flour bags?  Pictures showing the ingredients declaration on your goody bag?  I know that your sauce is "spicey" . I know that the goody bag has the secret ingredient written on the side of it.  I want to know whats in it, can you stop me?

Gene,

I see that I did not address your specific questions quoted above.

The owner or custodian of a trade secret has a duty to protect that trade secret. If it or its employees are casual about that duty and allow you to photograph its products, you should be free of any claim based on trade secrets. However, although it is rarely done, the owner could have a claim based on copyright if the appropriate steps are taken to protect the work in question under the copyright laws. For example, if Malnati's copyrighted the label for its canned tomatoes as shown at http://www.flickr.com/photos/loumalnatis/3662868312/ and you posted reproductions of the label on billboards in the metro Chicago area, or even on a forum like ours, saying that the Malnati's tomatoes sucked, that is an instance where Malnati's might have a claim of copyright infringement. Usually, companies like Malnati's like to publicize their products, especially if they are also selling them. However, they might try to use their copyright rights, to the extent they have them, against those who seek to harm them in some way.

If the photos result from dumpster diving, one arguably could claim that the owner did not take adequate steps to protect its trade secrets. I am assuming here that there are no local laws that penalize dumpster diving.

I personally wouldn't try to entice anyone to do anything that might be considered improper, whether for money or otherwise. I don't want anyone to get into trouble simply because I want to satisfy a purely personal desire to reverse engineer or clone any given product. I will ask questions and gratefully receive whatever responses are given, and I don't have any obligation to tell them what they should or should not say, but I don't try to get people to violate any obligation they may have to an employer. Given time, my hope is that I will find the answer on my own, and legally in all respects. In the old days, before the Internet, that would have been virtually impossible to do. These days, it can take a lot of work and research and time, to which I can personally attest, but reverse engineering is now much easier. This is most true of the big chains. The little guys often don't even have websites and don't publish anything about their products other than in the bricks and mortar world.

Peter

Offline Jet_deck

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Re: To protect and serve ?
« Reply #5 on: April 07, 2011, 01:49:02 PM »
Thank you both for the words of wisdom.  I appreciate both of your input on the matter.
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Offline Pete-zza

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Re: To protect and serve ?
« Reply #6 on: April 07, 2011, 01:51:10 PM »
So let's say I have successfully reverse-engineered Chris Bianco's pies by legal means and say I wanted to open a place across the street to try to siphon off some of his overflow. Do you think I could advertise the fact that my pizzas were the same as his: "same pizzas as Biancos, no wait!"?

Bill,

That is an interesting and, to me, an amusing, question. First of all, I would never want to predicate a business on such a flimsy premise. But setting that aside, all Chris would have to do is have his flour miller make a minor change in the flour he uses, or change the type or brand of tomatoes he buys, or buy his basil from another guy at the market that Chris goes to for such items, as I am sure he already does from time to time, and your claim ("same pizza as Bianco's") would no longer hold. Also, my recollection is that while Chris uses a commercial oven, that oven was modified for his purposes and perhaps for no one else. If so, that would make your claim even less credible, if not false, and possibly expose you to a claim of unfair competition. We also shouldn't rule out Chris's influence and good will with the local Phoenix politicians and regulators who would easily find a way to shut you down or at least get you to change the way you promote your product.

As an alternative, I suppose that you could change your marketing to "Bill's Clone of the Guy's Pizza Across the Street", no wait", even avoiding using Chris's name, but that does not strike me as an appealing business model  :-D. Also, people have a sense of fair play about these sorts of things. They may even want to be able to tell their friends how they waited in line at Chris's place for hours before they were seated and had Chris's pizzas. You can't rule out the mystique component.

Peter

 

Offline forzaroma

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Re: To protect and serve ?
« Reply #7 on: April 07, 2011, 02:03:12 PM »
My opinion on this is that no matter where one has worked or learned what they know is all based on learning from somebody. If you worked in a restaurant and learned from a great chef of course you would have copied his recipes and techniques and hopefully you can put your own spin on them and maybe improve them. If you work at a top pizzeria of course you will use his dough recipe if it is a great one.

Offline Italian Mike

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Re: To protect and serve ?
« Reply #8 on: April 08, 2011, 03:33:12 PM »
This post makes me smile...
Replicate Chris Bianco? and go across the street?

Chris Bianco doesn't have "overflow" he has customers who want to buy his pizza, he has built a reputation, you can make a pie just as good... but if it's not him in front of the oven it's not going to be good enough.

I can hire a very good artist and reproduce the Mona Lisa to perfection, and it's still won't be worth jack...
Make your own pie something that you can be proud of and that you can call your own it'll work better.

pizzerias with a reputation seem to have some common ingredients (all trump flour or "00" italian imported flour) (stanislaus tomatoes) (grande Cheese, or home made fresh mozzarella)

Read Peter Reinhart's "american pie" and especially the chapter about Pizzeria Bianco, you'll understand why you can't copy him, he doesn't assembles pies he takes pride in them he really has love for them, something you can't replicate.

His passion makes his business thrive business success has come to him as a consequence of his passion.  he isn't a business man he is a "pizzaiolo" first.

Offline Bill/SFNM

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Re: To protect and serve ?
« Reply #9 on: April 08, 2011, 04:43:53 PM »
This post makes me smile...
Replicate Chris Bianco? and go across the street?

I'm glad it made you smile because I was attempting a bit of tongue-in-cheek, perhaps less than successfully. I've waited respectfully in line at Bianco's and his dedication has been an inspiration in my own efforts. As may be clear from my first post in response to the OP, the whole premise of copying is not something I consider worthwhile.     


Offline Pete-zza

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Re: To protect and serve ?
« Reply #10 on: April 08, 2011, 05:06:02 PM »
Bill,

I think you would be surprised how often people post at the PMQ Think Tank asking members for help in replicating the dough and pizzas of chains like Papa John's and even some regional chains. One of our members, who is in the UK, posted at the PMQTT recently looking for help in replicating Domino's dough. Usually the members question the business model of someone trying to copy the pizzas of the big chains, particularly when there is no way an individual can compete on cost with the majors. They usually advise that the member develop an original dough and compete on quality rather than price.

Peter

Offline Bill/SFNM

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Re: To protect and serve ?
« Reply #11 on: April 08, 2011, 05:09:08 PM »
Thanks, Peter. I probably wouldn't be all that surprised. Why go through the pain and effort of pursuing excellence when you can just copy someone who has?  :(

Offline Mmmph

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Re: To protect and serve ?
« Reply #12 on: April 08, 2011, 05:21:56 PM »
Thanks, Peter. I probably wouldn't be all that surprised. Why go through the pain and effort of pursuing excellence when you can just copy someone who has?  :(

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Offline Pete-zza

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Re: To protect and serve ?
« Reply #13 on: April 08, 2011, 05:48:33 PM »
There is great interest, appeal and demand by our members for "clones" of the bigger and most popular names in the pizza business. Just look at the number of page views of some of the threads at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?board=36.0 and http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/board,36.30.html.

Peter

Offline Bill/SFNM

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Re: To protect and serve ?
« Reply #14 on: April 08, 2011, 05:53:41 PM »
There is great interest, appeal and demand by our members for "clones" of the bigger and most popular names in the pizza business. Just look at the number of page views of some of the threads at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?board=36.0 and http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/board,36.30.html.

Peter

Yes, I've seen that and have never understood it. If I were going to counterfeit currency, I'd probably print out $20's rather than $1's.  :D   

Offline Pizzamaster

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Re: To protect and serve ?
« Reply #15 on: April 08, 2011, 05:54:58 PM »
If the question is can you copy it the answer is it's done all the time. I used to know a guy who was in construction. He built the franchises for Little Ceasars. Later he opened his own chain. everything was identical to LC right down to the sauce, cheese rings and equipment.

Offline Pete-zza

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Re: To protect and serve ?
« Reply #16 on: April 08, 2011, 06:25:03 PM »
Yes, I've seen that and have never understood it. If I were going to counterfeit currency, I'd probably print out $20's rather than $1's.  :D   

Bill,

Actually, the big chains are constrained by their business models and the operations that are needed by the business models. Pizza Hut delivers mostly frozen pizza doughs to their stores and Domino's and Papa John's and a few lesser chains use commissaries from which fresh dough balls are delivered to stores twice a week. The dough formulations have to mesh with to both the business model and operations. I can see how someone--such as an independent with in-store dough production capability--could come up with an improved version for say, a one or two day cold fermentation application. I would perhaps use a few differentiators to distinguish the modified clone over the real thing.

Peter

Offline Bill/SFNM

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Re: To protect and serve ?
« Reply #17 on: April 08, 2011, 06:56:02 PM »
Peter, I guess I don't understand the different motivations for cloning. Random musings:

1) You think their pizzas are great and you want to be able to recreate them in your kitchen. I totally understand this case and think it is a totally worthy endeavor. I don't think Gene's OP falls into this category.

2) Others think their pizzas are great; you want to build a business that caters to the same clientele. Can you execute in volume? Just because people love this kind of pie in, say, NYC, is there a market in your territory? Couldn't you do better? Much better?

3) They run a popular/profitable operation. You want to emulate the parts of that system you feel might help your own success, regardless of the quality of the product. OK, but is the formulation of the pie one of things you want to copy? As you said, much of what they do is constrained. Couldn't you do better? Much better?




Offline Pete-zza

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Re: To protect and serve ?
« Reply #18 on: April 08, 2011, 07:29:41 PM »
Bill,

I can see two motivations.

The first one falls within your point 1. As you know, I have done a lot of cloning of popular doughs and pizzas, in most cases without ever having sampled the pizzas. I do it because I enjoy the intellectual exercise and I learn a lot from it, more than I ever expected. It's like solving a big puzzle. But to get to a viable clone, I have to find the information needed to be able to come up with the clone, knowing that the companies whose products I am trying to clone are doing things to prevent me from doing so or to slow me down as much as possible. So, in a sense, I am fighting the types of efforts taken by the companies to prevent copying of their products. To that extent, what Gene discusses in his opening post is relevant but looking at it from the side of the cloner, like me, rather than the company in question.

The second motivation is to improve upon an existing product, with the goal of developing a business around it. However, to do this, it helps--and may even be necessary--to know what goes into the product you would like to improve. That is where the cloning comes into play. Again, one has to do the research necessary to clone the product in the face of efforts by the company to prevent or restrict cloning of its products. Of course, one would have to do some taste tests and market research to determine if there is a viable market for the improved clone. While I haven't done so, I think I can come up with an improved version of the Papa John's basic dough/pizza, targeted to in-store production, but with differentiators that take it away from a pure PJ clone but "fuzzy" enough to attract customers who like the PJ pizza as well as those who might be attracted to the improved version on its own merits. Papa John's could do it itself--it has a lot of talented technical people--but it would not fit their business and operating model.

Peter

Offline NJPizzaiolo

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Re: To protect and serve ?
« Reply #19 on: April 08, 2011, 08:50:56 PM »
This post makes me smile...
Replicate Chris Bianco? and go across the street?

Chris Bianco doesn't have "overflow" he has customers who want to buy his pizza, he has built a reputation, you can make a pie just as good... but if it's not him in front of the oven it's not going to be good enough.

I can hire a very good artist and reproduce the Mona Lisa to perfection, and it's still won't be worth jack...
Make your own pie something that you can be proud of and that you can call your own it'll work better.

pizzerias with a reputation seem to have some common ingredients (all trump flour or "00" italian imported flour) (stanislaus tomatoes) (grande Cheese, or home made fresh mozzarella)

Read Peter Reinhart's "american pie" and especially the chapter about Pizzeria Bianco, you'll understand why you can't copy him, he doesn't assembles pies he takes pride in them he really has love for them, something you can't replicate.

His passion makes his business thrive business success has come to him as a consequence of his passion.  he isn't a business man he is a "pizzaiolo" first.
Mike ,you are exactly right,you know what seperates us pizzaiolo with your average everyday pizza makers is....PASSION .We care more about our product than padding our pockets.Integrity. The difference between Guys like Bianco and the next guy is,the next guy doesnt want to use the best ingredients available.There are no secrets.Anyone can reproduce these pies to some extent,they just would rather make pizzas that cost one dollar to make so they make more money!!!