Author Topic: Pizzeria Owners -- Help me out  (Read 3486 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline olsonmatt

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 66
  • Location: Marblehead, MA
    • Pie Oh My
Pizzeria Owners -- Help me out
« on: October 12, 2011, 02:10:01 PM »
Hello all,

Thanks for looking at this post.  I'm seriously interested in opening a pizzeria, but obviously don't want to jump in without proper experience.  I'm a home pizza maker, and while I have several years of restaurant experience, I strongly feel that I need to work in a pizzeria.  I want to learn dough management, oven management, and everything else that goes into day to day business.

I've been trying to get a job at some of the better local pizzerias, but have met with hang-ups when I've been honest about my intentions, or at best, suspicious looks when the conversation hasn't gotten that far.  What do I do?  I don't want to work for someone under false pretenses.  Any suggestions or reccomendations are greatly appreciated.


Offline BrickStoneOven

  • Lifetime Member
  • *
  • Posts: 1589
  • Location: Boston
Re: Pizzeria Owners -- Help me out
« Reply #1 on: October 12, 2011, 02:46:59 PM »
What style are you looking to do? Are you planning to use deck ovens or a WFO?

I went into Stellas like 6 times before Mike hired me. I went once a week for a month, he said he didn't need anyone for now so I stopped(this was around Dec/Jan) going for a little. Then I went one last time in March and he hired me right there and made me work that day. He caught me off guard when he asked me if I wanted to start now. I just blurted out "yea I'll work now; idc". He just laughed and said go wash up. I was there at 8am, he made me work till close.

Stellas is kind of far from where you live so that would be a hassle. If there is somewhere near you that you really want to work at just keep going in and be annoying. There aren't really any places around here with WFO so getting experience with that is going to be hard unless you have your own.

Offline olsonmatt

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 66
  • Location: Marblehead, MA
    • Pie Oh My
Re: Pizzeria Owners -- Help me out
« Reply #2 on: October 12, 2011, 02:50:03 PM »
BrickStone, thanks.  It's good to hear that you had some success.  I'm interested in a deck oven, so there are a few places on the North Shore that I'd consider. 

Offline scott123

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 6929
Re: Pizzeria Owners -- Help me out
« Reply #3 on: October 12, 2011, 03:37:19 PM »
For a typical NY style deck oven pizzeria, you don't need to work in one before opening one.  Whatever you need to learn you can learn here and at PMQ.  Even if you did score a job at a local pizzeria, the owner would most likely never put you in a position to learn his secrets anyway. Do you really need to learn how to bus a table? To stock a fridge with sodas? To wash dishes? Because that's the job a stranger off the street will get.  If you're lucky, maybe you'll get to open and dress skins, but you should be good at opening dough now.

Why learn from one pizzeria owner (who might very well be wrong part of the time), when you can learn from 20 pizzeria owners?  If you're concerned about opening a business, take a business class.  That will teach you how to write a business plan, how to obtain permits, how to do bookkeeping, hiring staff, paying taxes- those are most likely going to be the most difficult aspects for a first time business owner. The actual preparation of the food, with the info you find here, that's a piece of cake.

I mean, let's face it, do you even have a great NY style pizzeria near you? I live in the NY area and I don't.  I could drive about 40 minutes to a great place, but they'd laugh at me if I asked for a job.  Selling great pizza is like printing money.  If they're making money hand over fist, why would they hire a stranger?  This is why great family pizzerias stay in the family for so many years- because it's so incredibly lucrative.

Offline norma427

  • Lifetime Member
  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 21529
  • Location: Lancaster County, Pa.
    • learningknowledgetomakepizza
Re: Pizzeria Owners -- Help me out
« Reply #4 on: October 12, 2011, 03:50:25 PM »
olsonmatt,

In my limited opinion, working for an already established pizza business is a good idea.  You would get a feel for what it is like to work in a pizzeria day to day.  I donít think anyone that hasnít worked or watched how a real pizzeria works, has any idea of what a hard job they have.  I know some real pizzeria operators and know they work 7 days a week, without much time for their families or free time.  You really need the passion and also money to open a regular pizzeria.  That still isn't going to guarantee success.  I think Scott 123's ideas are also good in taking a business course.

As other members have done before, it is always important, at least in my opinion, to learn what kind of pizza you really want to make and also experiment at home.  If you want to use a deck oven, even your home experiments will really be helpful, even thought a deck oven will bake differently.  Just start with whatever kind of pizza you want to learn about and go from there.  All experiments will be helpful, in learning dough management.  The part you will learn from a real pizzeria is what it is like to work in a real pizzeria and all that goes into that. There you also will learn how a deck oven bakes differently.

I went about learning to open my small pizza stand in all the wrong ways.  I didnít even know how to make pizza dough.  I was lucky I survived.  Luckily I could learn on a smaller scale and didnít need to invest the kind of money a larger pizzeria does.  

Norma
« Last Edit: October 12, 2011, 03:52:36 PM by norma427 »
Always working and looking for new information!

Offline BrickStoneOven

  • Lifetime Member
  • *
  • Posts: 1589
  • Location: Boston
Re: Pizzeria Owners -- Help me out
« Reply #5 on: October 12, 2011, 07:26:04 PM »
Scott123 is right that your probably not going to be learning anything about pizza when working there unless your there for a very long time. I did all the food prep, sandwich making, dish washing, and barley made pizzas. Even though I made the sauce the owner would tell me to go out front when he'd measure the ingredients to put into the sauce. The only time I would be able to make pizza was when one of the pizza makers was working. The only reason that one pizza maker would let me make pizzas(when it was slow) was because I told him I was a member here and showed him pictures of pizzas I made. We sat down for a little bit and talked about pizza and he was shocked that I knew all this stuff. He said he didn't know any of that stuff but wanted to learn. I told him to come on here but I doubt he did. They though I was some random kid that was just looking for a job.

But honestly no one there really knows that much about pizza. Its just stuff they were told to do a long time ago and have gotten used to doing it so they do it day in/day out.

The real reason for working in a pizzeria or in any restaurant for that matter is more to see if you like doing that kind of thing. Like Norma said its so you can see how things really operate from the inside as an employee rather than looking from the outside as a customer. It really isn't as easy as people think. Working in a restaurant isn't for everyone, that's why it's a good idea to work in one and see if it's something you would like to do as a career not a job.

Offline olsonmatt

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 66
  • Location: Marblehead, MA
    • Pie Oh My
Re: Pizzeria Owners -- Help me out
« Reply #6 on: October 12, 2011, 07:26:49 PM »
Scott123:  Thanks for the reply and advice -- even after having some restaurant management experience, I think you're right -- a business class would be a good idea.  There is so much to think of.  

I am still sold on the idea of working in a pizzeria though.  Again, you're right -- you can definitely learn to make a good pie here.  I actually feel that mine are better than most that are available to me commercially, and have talked to at least one local pizzeria owner who has used this forum as a resource, and know of others.  My thinking though, comes from my 15 years of bartending experience.  Anyone can make a good cocktail at home, but it takes time and experience to learn to make many a night and handle multiple orders at a time, etc.  

It's true, some pizzerias will definitely laugh at someone off the street asking for what amounts to an internship (hopefully paid), but I feel like I've got to persist.  What I'm curious to know is how an owner would like to be approached, and how to show that I can be valuable to them even without professional experience.  

Norma:  Thank you for your post.  Your pizza stand sounds so cool, and you definitely seem to be a champion experimenter!  Of course I am going to continue making pies at home -- I love to do it!  What would you say to a guy who wanted to work at your stand in order to get professional experience.  (Hypothetically -- don't worry, I'm not coming down there for a job.)

Offline olsonmatt

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 66
  • Location: Marblehead, MA
    • Pie Oh My
Re: Pizzeria Owners -- Help me out
« Reply #7 on: October 12, 2011, 07:48:25 PM »
BrickStone:  Thanks.  I hear you.   I'm not trying to crib recipes, just do what you said, which is basically get my hands dirty in a pro environment.  Let me know if you're ever back at Stella's and I'll definitely head over there for a slice.

Offline RoadPizza

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 348
  • Mozzarella Addict
Re: Pizzeria Owners -- Help me out
« Reply #8 on: October 12, 2011, 08:53:44 PM »
Scott123 is right that your probably not going to be learning anything about pizza when working there unless your there for a very long time. I did all the food prep, sandwich making, dish washing, and barley made pizzas. Even though I made the sauce the owner would tell me to go out front when he'd measure the ingredients to put into the sauce. The only time I would be able to make pizza was when one of the pizza makers was working. The only reason that one pizza maker would let me make pizzas(when it was slow) was because I told him I was a member here and showed him pictures of pizzas I made. We sat down for a little bit and talked about pizza and he was shocked that I knew all this stuff. He said he didn't know any of that stuff but wanted to learn. I told him to come on here but I doubt he did. They though I was some random kid that was just looking for a job.

But honestly no one there really knows that much about pizza. Its just stuff they were told to do a long time ago and have gotten used to doing it so they do it day in/day out.

The real reason for working in a pizzeria or in any restaurant for that matter is more to see if you like doing that kind of thing. Like Norma said its so you can see how things really operate from the inside as an employee rather than looking from the outside as a customer. It really isn't as easy as people think. Working in a restaurant isn't for everyone, that's why it's a good idea to work in one and see if it's something you would like to do as a career not a job.

Well said.  Sometimes the idea of doing something is better for most people than actually doing it.  You need to try it first to see if you're willing to do all of that hard (thankless) work later.  I've hired so many people who left right away because they thought that there was a lot less actual work involved.

And yes, they may not really know the SCIENCE behind what they do, but they have systems in place THAT WORK that you could adapt for the restaurant you want to open.

I was lucky because I started very young and I was able to work with a lot of veteran pizza makers who were willing to teach me.

Offline norma427

  • Lifetime Member
  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 21529
  • Location: Lancaster County, Pa.
    • learningknowledgetomakepizza
Re: Pizzeria Owners -- Help me out
« Reply #9 on: October 12, 2011, 09:10:24 PM »

Your pizza stand sounds so cool, and you definitely seem to be a champion experimenter!  Of course I am going to continue making pies at home -- I love to do it!  What would you say to a guy who wanted to work at your stand in order to get professional experience.  (Hypothetically -- don't worry, I'm not coming down there for a job.)


olsonmatt,

My pizza stand might sound cool, and I do have a lot of fun there with experimenting and making pies, but it is more work than you might think.  Since I only do it on a part-time basis, it is can be easily handled.  

I wouldnít mind any member that might want to come to my small pizza stand to learn.  For anyone that isnít a member of the forum, I am not sure.  I donít have to worry about someone trying to copy what I exactly do, because it is posted right here on the forum.  Just recently I met two guys at a restaurant, and they joined the forum and Steve and I taught them how open dough balls and now they are also hooked on making home pizzas.  Learning at my small pizza stand is a lot different than working for a regular pizza business, so I would think someone would need to work in a bigger pizza business to see all what goes on in a big business.

Keep practicing what kind of pizza you want to make at home until you get it exactly the way you want.  Making dough in big batches and getting it to ferment right and handling it is different than in a home setting.

Everyone is giving you great advice.  

Norma
« Last Edit: October 12, 2011, 09:14:08 PM by norma427 »
Always working and looking for new information!


Online TXCraig1

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 12372
  • Location: Houston, TX
Re: Pizzeria Owners -- Help me out
« Reply #10 on: October 13, 2011, 12:08:38 AM »
I wouldnít mind any member that might want to come to my small pizza stand to learn.  For anyone that isnít a member of the forum, I am not sure.  I donít have to worry about someone trying to copy what I exactly do, because it is posted right here on the forum.  

You don't have to worry. Nobody could keep up with you!

CL
Pizza is not bread.

Online TXCraig1

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 12372
  • Location: Houston, TX
Re: Pizzeria Owners -- Help me out
« Reply #11 on: October 13, 2011, 12:15:45 AM »
Hi Matt. Glad to see you over here!

I've never run a pizzeria, but I've started and run a few businesses. Happy to help where I can if you have any business questions (or pizza questions - but less qualified there) you want to bounce off me.

Craig
Pizza is not bread.

Offline norma427

  • Lifetime Member
  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 21529
  • Location: Lancaster County, Pa.
    • learningknowledgetomakepizza
Re: Pizzeria Owners -- Help me out
« Reply #12 on: October 13, 2011, 07:57:54 AM »
You don't have to worry. Nobody could keep up with you!

CL

Craig,

Lol, I am not that hard to keep up with.  :-D  I am just an "experimenter at heart", that wants to find out all I can about any kind of pizza doughs.  It is always an endless search.

You have also been very busy, and are always helpful in your posts and helping other members.  :)

Norma
Always working and looking for new information!

Offline clkou

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 15
Re: Pizzeria Owners -- Help me out
« Reply #13 on: October 13, 2011, 09:59:44 AM »
This could be a really good topic as I'm sure many people are in the same boat wanting to get started in some kind of pizza business related venture. I know my PERSONAL goal long term is to have my own "mom and pop" Italian restaurant where pizza is the centerpiece, but I'm trying to think of some cost effective, easy ways to start off and build to that. I think the worst thing you can do is jump too fast and too recklessly into something. I hear stories about people with little experience running up thousands and thousands of dollars of debt and that's just really dangerous and risky.

Offline olsonmatt

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 66
  • Location: Marblehead, MA
    • Pie Oh My
Re: Pizzeria Owners -- Help me out
« Reply #14 on: October 13, 2011, 12:34:25 PM »
Craig, thanks.  Good to see you too.  I absolutely appreciate the offer.  All help is appreciated.  As you can tell from this post, I'm just trying to get started. 

clkou, great point and definitely important to cover all bases.  The point of this post was that I want to take steps so as not to "jump too fast." 

Offline gabaghool

  • Lifetime Member
  • *
  • Posts: 513
  • Location: GLASTONBURY, CT
Re: Pizzeria Owners -- Help me out
« Reply #15 on: October 15, 2011, 04:39:37 PM »
i had a friend from Marblehead whose family owned the local movie house...beautiful town.

I own a few pizzerias, actually full service restaurants.

Now, I must admit, that there are many guys who wouldn't hire you if they knew that you wanted to open one yourself.....BUT, there are MANY who would.  Why?

I hired a guy, a cia grad, with NO pizza experience.  But, to me, and many other owners, competition is a good thing....and as you go on with this, you will learn that most of the good ones do things just about the same.  This guy I hired went on from learning NH style pizza from me, one other local place and then went to San Antonio to open a VPN certified Neo place called DOUGH.  He now has 2 places and was featured on Guy Fieri's DDD on the food channel.  See, he went form NADA to now, which I consider a top dog in the pizza world.  Why did I hire him?  Well, I knew he was gonna open his own place, so I knew:

1.  He would work his ass off.
2.  He would pay attention to detail, cause its ALL in the detail
3.  He would come to work, every single day, with a passion....a passion to do his best, a passion to try and figure out the best way to do things...so maybe he could help ME streamline MY business.
4.  He was there TO WORK and TO LEARN.....not to simply make a poor paycheck, punch in, punch out and be on his cell phone most of the time, trying to get together with his buddies at a bar after work.

And I was right. One of the best employees I ever had.  And now, HIS THUMBNAIL knows more than me....and Im glad.  As a pizzeria owner, he now considers me a former mentor...and I dig that.  Shoot, when he comes to town, he ALWAYS stops by to say hi.

Most guys who own places will be glad to hire you, IF the need someone.  But not all.  I would try the honest approach  first.  But, if that fails, you go in and simply ask for a job.....none of us have any EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS to almost ANYTHING of what we do...believe me, no matter HOW COOL you think you are....someones done it before you.

One thing, if you have the chance to work somewhere that is really great, tell him or her your plans and tell them you will work FOR FREE.  Shoot, look at it as a FREE EDUCATION.  This shows the owner that you are SERIOUS about learning.  Then, after he or she says yes, be the first one there in the morn and the last one to leave.  Do things PRECISELY, ask for more work, come in on your days off, do the little things, sweep, mop, bus tables, clean the parking lot......cause, in reality, those are all things you will be doing when YOURE THE BOSS.

Good luck man.... scott was right.  If you can make a great pie, its just like printing money....but with a LOT OF HARD WORK AND SWEAT.

ps:  Try and get a job at THE BEST POSSIBLE PLACE YOU CAN FIND that does the type of pizza you want to do......NO MATTER HOW FAR.... Im serious...if you have to dry 100 miles each way.....DO IT.  It may be a bitch, but the opportunity to learn from THE BEST is so valuable, that no distance should matter.  

PSS:  When I first started to learn pizza, I didn't tell the owners anyting of my plans.  I was the head chef at ESPN.  I worked 45 hours a week.  I got hired at a top 10 Connecticut ranked pizza place (I only wanted to work for top 10 places).  He needed me full time.  I worked from 5:30 in the morning till 1:30 5 days a week at ESPN, so I could fit what the pizza owner wanted a full time guy.  So I worked ANOTHER 42 HOURS a week...and THEN, a DREAM opportunity came up to work part time in a place I LOVED, ranked number one in the hartford area.  He needed me from 9 am till 11 PM on friday (my day off from espn) and 8 hours on sunday (my only day off).  i did that for 3 YEARS........over a hundred hours a week.    BUT, I really wanted to learn pizza, I really need to support my family (cooks don't get paid real well, so you gotta work long hours).  I did what I have to do.  And for me, with a little luck, its paid off.  Those three years FLEW by, I was relitively young, so things worked out.

The point is....ITS NEVER TOO MUCH.....when it comes to paying your dues in this business....and because its so difficult:  YOU GOTTA LOVE , LOVE, LOVE what you do...or you just wont' have it in ya.

Again, good luck.
« Last Edit: October 15, 2011, 04:49:23 PM by gabaghool »

Offline olsonmatt

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 66
  • Location: Marblehead, MA
    • Pie Oh My
Re: Pizzeria Owners -- Help me out
« Reply #16 on: October 16, 2011, 01:30:49 AM »
Gabaghool -- Thank you!  Great words.  Sounds like you paid some serious dues.  I was hoping you'd pipe in hear after reading a lot of your posts on NH pizza and your challenges/successes. 

That movie theater looked really cool.  Unfortunately, they tore it down right after we moved into town!

I will keep you guys posted.  I had an interview the other day and am hoping to hear back tomorrow.

Offline Jackitup

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 3707
  • Age: 59
  • Location: Hastings, MN
Re: Pizzeria Owners -- Help me out
« Reply #17 on: October 16, 2011, 04:24:10 AM »
Gabagool,
Great response and advice. When I first started as a Respiratory Therapist I work for a 5 hospital system and was oriented to 4 of them. I worked as much as I could, up to 200 hours per 2 week pay period sometimes and worked in all the ICU's ER's and floors therapies including outpatient education. I learned a TON on ALL shifts. Don't work nearly that much anymore but value that time of excess very much and would not have the skill level I have now without it! Now 20+ years later I still feel stupid and hope I always will because overconfidence and knowitall attitude will cause you to miss things and that's NOT a good thing. 'A smart man knows he's limited'.
Jon
Save A Cow, Eat A Vegan....Totally Organic And Hormone Free!!

Offline fazzari

  • Lifetime Member
  • *
  • Posts: 901
Re: Pizzeria Owners -- Help me out
« Reply #18 on: October 16, 2011, 09:10:46 PM »
All the above advice should be very helpful for you, but I thought I'd answer your question by asking myself what "I" would do to open a pizza restaurant.  I am answering this question as a restaurant owner who has been in business for the last 28 years.  If I were to venture to open another pizza restaurant, be it 5 miles away or 1000 miles away, I would invest some serious money in industry professionals such as:
http://www.pizzainsight.com/.  I would love to have pros such as these from the very beginning for the following reasons:
1)  They know the pulse of the pizza industry nationwide
2)  They have the experience and knowledge necessary to get you open
3)  The can help you with every little thing you can't possibly think of to be profitable and efficient
4)  They are in contact with major suppliers and manufacturers
5)  They are up to date with current trends
6)  They must have seen every possible mistake there is to make
7)  They are in contact with major minds on pizza dough
8)  They have run successful restaurants themselves

After managing and owning pizza restaurants for 36 years, I am well aware of what I know, and I am also well aware of what I don't know....but you see, the most important fact is...I am not aware of what I don't know.  With the hours that I work, I don't get to visit different restaurants in different parts of the country very often...so all that I know, is what is right in front of me, or what I read, or what I hear...so that is why I would go to a source to get all the info I could....I believe this would give me the best odds at success.

Another great tool available to anyone is: https://secure.aibonline.org/php/ecomm-catalog.php?catalogNbr=377.  I made it to one of those, and it was simply fantastic.

John

Offline olsonmatt

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 66
  • Location: Marblehead, MA
    • Pie Oh My
Re: Pizzeria Owners -- Help me out
« Reply #19 on: October 16, 2011, 10:51:09 PM »
John

Thank you.  Those look like great resources -- wouldn't have heard about them anywhere else.  I really do want to do it right, so I will definitely look into them.

Matt


 

pizzapan