Author Topic: Who wants to open a pizzaria?  (Read 10695 times)

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Offline Tom Grim

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Who wants to open a pizzaria?
« on: August 18, 2005, 11:37:43 AM »
      I am wondering how many members of this forum are seriously thinking about opening a pizzaria.
     I have been in the handmade ice cream and chocolate business for many years and am seriously thinking about opening a Neapolitan wood fired pizza place in the line of Pizzaria Bianco or Uno Pizza Napoletana.  Single mindedly dedicated to making the finest pizza.
     If there are enough of us, It might be very helpful for future pizzaria owners to have a threat to share ideas, knowlege  and information.

Tom


Offline canadianbacon

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Re: Who wants to open a pizzaria?
« Reply #1 on: August 18, 2005, 11:48:07 AM »
Hi Tom,

The thought has entered my min numerous times.

1. - Dough is so inexpensive to make.

Sauce, and cheeze are 2 ingredients that are relatively inexpensive also.

2. In many pizza joints, people pay for extra toppings.  Where I live however many of the more
traditional places sell an "ALL DRESSED" pizza at the same price as one that would only have pepporoni on it,
which I find nice, but as an *owner* .... I think the pay as you go on the toppings will make the owner more money.

When you think of the equipment needed to start a pizzeria these days, it is nothing vs other business in the eatery business.

There are many places around here, they are bare bones pizza places.  They have a counter with a cash,
behind the counter they have their new stove with conveyor belt, and then they have their huge Hobart machine, and other tools needed to
do the slicing etc.

Overall, this is a very good business to get into, and I know profits are amazing.  When you look at the average price of a pizza around here - about $9-12 for a medium..... it's amazing how little is actually spent on making that pizza.

I always shake my head when we order one.... I walk out and tell my wife that there is about $1.00 of ingredients on the pizza, and that's about it.
Hey even if it cost a total of $2.... the owner is making a damn big profit.

Sure, you have to pay employees eventually, the hydro, gas etc .... but hey, if you are making enough to hire 2 or 3 people full time, you KNOW you are making big bucks.  Not many thing about it, but if you pay 2 or 3 people full time salaries, think about how much the owner must be making !

Yup pizza is very inexpensive, and there is a high profit on it.  Most of the places around here are packed at lunch time, and dinner time, and are always making pizzas during the non-rush times.

It's a great business to get into.
Pizzamaker, Rib Smoker, HomeBrewer, there's not enough time for a real job.

Offline Ronzo

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Re: Who wants to open a pizzaria?
« Reply #2 on: August 18, 2005, 11:55:47 AM »
I've thought about it... I'm not anywhere near ready to do it though.

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Offline youonlylivetwice

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Re: Who wants to open a pizzaria?
« Reply #3 on: August 18, 2005, 12:22:44 PM »
Bacon,
you are right, but keep in mind that approach is also why so many small businesses fail.  Overestimating revenue and underestimating the financing needs are right up there with assuming that because you love something you can sell it to others.  I just passed two more pizza places this morning (took a different way to work) that are now closed and were open a few months ago.  I never stopped in because they never gave me a reason to. Saw the menus, same ol pizzas, same ol toppings, same ol pricing.  You need to know not only what sets you apart, but also how you are going to get that across to your customers.  Just "being" it doesn't get it sold.  I'd love to give it a go, but I think I am ultimately too risk averse to ever convince myself I could market it, even if I knew the product, market and margins were there.
Best of luck....


Offline Bill/SFNM

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Re: Who wants to open a pizzaria?
« Reply #4 on: August 18, 2005, 01:42:11 PM »
Required reading for anyone thinking of any kind of retail prepared food business: Kitchen Confidential by Tony Bourdain.

After reading that book, you may think twice.

BTW, pasta is often served in pizza joints because it has an even higher margin than pizza. And don't neglect the science of menu design. Correctly done it will result in increased sales of higher-margin items like toppings.

Chris Bianco spent a lot of years struggling in different pizzerias before he hit the big time in Phoenix. He also claims that only 3% of the pies he makes on a given night are "perfect".  Give me the other 97% anytime.  ;D

I have the utmost respect for anyone who can consistently turn out a quality product and make a profit and have fun doing it. I know it is far beyond my capabilities.

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Offline Tom Grim

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Re: Who wants to open a pizzaria?
« Reply #5 on: August 18, 2005, 02:00:28 PM »
The margins do seem to be very good, far better than the ice cream business.  With one caveat. Margins are great on cheap pizza but if you make pizzas with Buffalo Motz, good Olive oil, imported flour, etc,  the food cost picture doesn't look quite so attractive. And if you make pizza with everything organic, those ingredients also get pricey.  Yes you can charge more, but then you appeal to the fewer, more affluent customers. 
      Start up costs are minimal, especially if you keep things pure and simple.  A wood fired oven, some refrigeration, maybe a mixer and some small stuff. Maybe $25,000 in equipment.   If one were to  open a homemade ice cream store, equipment would cost at least $100,000.  In my store we have closer to $200,000 in equipment.  We have huge electric bills and water bills. The refrigeration repairman almost lives in our store. 
      I think a lot of people fail in opening a business because they are unprepared for how much time and effort is required in running a small business.  There are so many hats to wear. Making deposits, paying bills, paying taxes, doing payroll, hiring, scheduling, bank recs, maintenance, adverting and promotion, ordering food supplies, ordering paper supplies.  All of these kind of things before you make the dough.
     Then when  you open a food business, you discover that week ends are when people eat, so thats when you need to work.  I haven't had week ends off in 25 years.  In fact it is rare that I ever get a full day off.  And, when you take a day off, you constantly worry that the store is falling apart. When you have a small business, you can't hire a manager and put it on auto-pilot.  You ARE the store.  Ignore it and it will go away.  I like the way Uno Pizza Naploletano runs his business.  He is open only Thursday thru Sunday, "5pm until the fresh dough runs out".  He serves nothing but 4 simple pizzas.  No salads, no desserts.  No nothing, except beer and wine.  He will never make a lot of money, but he will have some quality of life.  He also makes the best pizza that I have had to date.  I will probably try to do something similar.
      I am of the firm belief that if you put your heart into a business the public will respond.  If  you set your goals on making the finest pizza, the people will come.  If you are excited about what you do, the customers will feel it.
      Don't go into business to 'make money'.  Go into business because you love what you do.  Of course, you need to make money, but it should not be the number one goal.   Just get the people in the door once, serve them something outstanding, charge a fair price and treat them like family.  They will be your customers for life.  The money should take care of itself.  Always adhere to those principles.  Do it right, or do something else.
   Tom

Offline Snowman

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Re: Who wants to open a pizzaria?
« Reply #6 on: August 18, 2005, 07:54:26 PM »
Tom, you didn't say where you're from, so we can't help you open that there pizza joint.  :)

Remember that you're looking at the pizza joints that succeed.  I can give you an ice creamery that will absolutely boggle your mind (mostly because it ain't even ice cream).  If you ever get to St. Louis, you must stop by Ted Drewes on Chippewa.  Now I'm not endorsing their PRODUCT, but on any given night, there's a line.  The only people inside are the workers and they may have 8+ windows open at any given time with 4 or 5 people in every line.  That sucker has to be rolling in money. 

Pizza, as most any other business, revolves around quantity.  Quantity comes with extra employees.  Extra employees often hurt the quality, which hurts quantity.  It's a rough cycle.  A mom and pop (run by just mom and pop) may make a living, but not a fortune. 

I can look at Fortel's Pizza Den (also in St. Louis, I seem to be stuck back there) and be in awe of the business he does, but I can go to Evansville, IN and visit Pizza Zone (if it's still around) and watch the owner and his driver play checkers because no one's ordering.  They have a FINE pizza, just more of a hole in the wall.  The owner is super-nice, but again, from where I sat (10 years ago), he was lucky to clear 30k working full time. 

Offline Tom Grim

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Re: Who wants to open a pizzaria?
« Reply #7 on: August 18, 2005, 10:01:01 PM »
i am in Princeton NJ.   Not far from Princeton, is De Lorenzos pizza, which is one of the first pizza places in the country.  They are always packed.  Our ice cream business is very successful.  We too have long lines all summer.  We don't have windows, but we have 5 to 9 scoopers every night.   It is safe to say that we are one of the busiest ice cream stores in New Jersey.  Our original goal was to make the best ice cream that we could, regardless of cost. give generous portions, and charge a fair price.  That strategy has keep the lights on for 25 yrs.
     My goal is to have the best pizza anywhere.  I don't know if that means it will be the busiest. 
Better pizza means it will be more expensive, which means it may not be as busy as a less expensive place.  I don't believe that success always defined by volume.  I would rather be known for having something special. Of course I would like to be very busy as well. I sure don't want to be playing checkers.  We are in an affluent area will appreciate and pay for something superior.  I think that if I build it, they will come.
     Meanwhile  I am going to buy a woodfired oven for home, and start perfecting my pizza.  I have a long way to go.

Tom


piroshok

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Re: Who wants to open a pizzaria?
« Reply #8 on: August 18, 2005, 10:32:35 PM »
Its too labour intensive requires dedication and badly paid at best it is suited for young enterpreneurs who want a head start in life but I don't think it is a life long dedication.
 


Offline chiguy

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Re: Who wants to open a pizzaria?
« Reply #9 on: August 19, 2005, 03:29:15 AM »
 Hello, I live in a small town  with the only operators being the chains, pizza hut etc..(yuk) I  am very serious about opening a pizzeria. I have gone to pizza expos, taken classes and spoken with owners of pizzerias. Pizza has a very low food cost in comparion with other restuarant items poss to operate at 15%. Also, pizza is fairly easy to make once you have learned the process. I speak with alot confidence probably because of my location, if i had to open up in a big market like Chicago, i would be much more skeptical. Lots and lots of competition up there.

Offline ppizza

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Re: Who wants to open a pizzaria?
« Reply #10 on: August 19, 2005, 03:15:16 PM »
I opened one, and sort of by accident.  For the benefit of those of you who think you can't, I share my story.  My partner and I originally envisioned opening a bakery.  We had no momey, but I had excellent carpentry and design skills and a line of credit at a lumberyard/hardware store.  I built a 12" byb12" kitchen that would meet local health code.  I built it on my own semi-rural property zoned to accept a small commercial establishment.  We opened selling breakfast pastries and pizza.  Then I got this crazy notion to become a full service cafe, offering gourmet food.  I added about 40 sq. ft. of customer seating area.  I reasoned that, unlike Bacon's figures, profits would be higher in non-pizza items.  While in a sense that was true, I soon disscovered I had way too mucghmoney tied up in inventory and that the neighborhood locals did not want to eat anything their momma hadn't served them before they were six years old.  Meanswhile, I had an accident and broke my arm and my leg and had to shut down for three months.  During that recovery time, I had a chance to really analyze my books carefully and discovered that I was making the most money from, yes, pizza, even though my profit margin was not as good as some other items.

So, when I re-open in a few weeks, I will be strictly a pizzaria, selling cinnamom rolls only by the dozen to resellers.  All debt from building the place was paid off in nine momths.

I opened the entitre establshment for less than $10,000.  I began cooking pizza in an ordinary gas ove with stones placed inside it.  I loved my own pizza.  I just didn't know if others would.  Well, they loved it so much that after getting home with an order to take out they would call me up just to tell me how terricfic it was!

The down side of the regular home oven was not being able to get the temp high enough to cook fast.  Therefore my service was slow.  I have that licked now, however, by devising a new cooking method in which I can have 700 degree temp to cook with.

Because of the low-population area I live and do business in I will never get rich doing this, but I love making and eating pizza and love my customers and am making my material needs met.  What else can one want?

Please excuse any typos.  My right arm is still in a cast, so typing is hard.

Offline JimBob

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Re: Who wants to open a pizzaria?
« Reply #11 on: August 19, 2005, 06:11:18 PM »
I want to open a pizzeria in about 6 years.. Lot's of time for planning.  It's a huge project to undertake from scratch but I can't see myself owning a franchise, it would be like working for someone else still.
JimBob

Offline Snowman

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Re: Who wants to open a pizzaria?
« Reply #12 on: August 19, 2005, 06:36:51 PM »
Ppizza, you don't say what you did to get an oven at 700.  I hope you didn't "trick" it, but rather got a REAL pizza oven.  The BTUs are higher and allows for faster recovery.  700 degrees is NOT needed to make good pizza (okay, it is for TRUE NY pizza), but normal stuff goes 550 tops.  Recovery time is important.

My fictitious pizza joint needs a fryer to make everything from cheese fries, to cheese sticks, to chicken nuggets and even some buffalo wings.  I'm fighting with the horrid idea of having to serve some fool a (gasp!) salad.  If I had my way, I'd hang a sign right over the oven that says:

Nutrition Info:
NOT HEALTHY

:)

Offline pizzanapoletana

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Re: Who wants to open a pizzaria?
« Reply #13 on: August 20, 2005, 04:32:20 PM »
I believe you are underestimates how much it cost to open a quality wood burning oven pizzeria. here is an example.

A professional hand made oven (made to last 80+ years) set you back at $12000 circa.

A small-medium professional fork or diving arms mixer (like pietroberto's) sells at around $7000 circa.

then you need preparation tables, fridges, and other tools + furniture for the customers area.

I believe the total amount is more like 100,000, and this doesn't include the major cost of leasing a place and the monthly rent.

Una Pizza has few tables, has an oven that gives Anthony a lot of trouble, doesn't have a mixer and what is more, the owner is in it for passion not for money...


Offline Bill/SFNM

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Re: Who wants to open a pizzaria?
« Reply #14 on: August 20, 2005, 09:24:02 PM »
And don't forget the cost of hardwood for fuel which in many areas can be expensive (and others not very expensive). Furthermore, in many urban Air Quality Districts, burning wood for any commercial use is tightly regulated. Scrubbers to remove airborne particulates are required in some places.

Baking "high-quality" pies in a wood-fired oven requires skill and experience which you might have, but unless you're going to bake every pizza, you'll need employees that may make quite a bit more than minimum wage.

Bill/SFNM

Offline Tom Grim

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Re: Who wants to open a pizzaria?
« Reply #15 on: August 21, 2005, 10:49:34 AM »
What problems does Anthony have with his oven?  Did he buy an oven or build it from Scratch?

Offline pizzanapoletana

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Re: Who wants to open a pizzaria?
« Reply #16 on: August 21, 2005, 11:19:30 AM »
The oven was built from scratch from people that in my opinion did not know much about it. the design and dimensions are wrong to bake that type of pizza and I believe that also the material used are not ideal (including insulation, which in that type of oven is fundamental).

Anthony was having loads of problem with heat circulation and temperatures...


Offline scott r

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Re: Who wants to open a pizzaria?
« Reply #17 on: August 21, 2005, 01:22:18 PM »
I did notice that his pies do not have the look of ultra high heat.  They sure tasted great, though.

Offline Tom Grim

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Re: Who wants to open a pizzaria?
« Reply #18 on: August 21, 2005, 03:47:12 PM »
It seems that everyone in New York has a cousin that 'knows' how to build a brick oven.  If Anthony participated on this forum, he might have a better oven.  I do agree, however, that he makes an amazing pizza.  I guess he has made the best of a bad situation.

Offline nysauce

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Re: Who wants to open a pizzaria?
« Reply #19 on: September 12, 2005, 04:40:15 PM »
Hey guys, I want to open a pizzeria. see NYSAUCE Dream in this Topic. I am keeping somewhat of a journal of how I'm going about it. Still slow in the process though. I am coming from a computer background but am too tired of working for people and would rather put the long hours in something I love to do. Good luck all

Offline Rick

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Re: Who wants to open a pizzaria?
« Reply #20 on: September 13, 2005, 02:25:42 AM »
Hey guys, I want to open a pizzeria. see NYSAUCE Dream in this Topic. I am keeping somewhat of a journal of how I'm going about it. Still slow in the process though. I am coming from a computer background but am too tired of working for people and would rather put the long hours in something I love to do. Good luck all

Hallo... I could have written the exact same things about my life....
I live in Rome  and work in IT field but I'm bored to death of this kind of life.
I love pizza (I can make a good one) and I love USA and it would be my dream to live and work anywhere in US, especially in hospitality/food preparation/pizza making field.....
My passioni is so great tha in late September I'll attend one of the best food school in Italy called Gambero Rosso (U can find their books anywhere here in Italy and probably even worldwide) to specialize in pizza making and then I'll try to have chance to work in USA....
On the 30th of December I'll be in NYC for about 10 days (it should be a vacation) and probably I'll try to ask around if there is any italian restaurant who need an italian guy in the kitchen...
Just to make U understand my passion, I'm not a desperado seeking something to live, I have a very good work here, a home 3 km from the Coliseum , a car, a motorbike and everything to have a good life here.
But I want to change my life totally and work in something that I like.... and live in US.

Sorry for my bad english....  ;)

Bye

Rick

Offline Bill/SFNM

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Re: Who wants to open a pizzaria?
« Reply #21 on: September 13, 2005, 03:46:03 AM »
On the 30th of December I'll be in NYC for about 10 days (it should be a vacation) and probably I'll try to ask around if there is any italian restaurant who need an italian guy in the kitchen...
Rick,
I admire your passion and I hope your dream to work here comes true. If you are not a U.S. citizen, you may be aware that getting work here also requires the proper government permits (see http://uscis.gov/graphics/howdoi/ead.htm). Since 9/11, it can be much harder, even for those with special skills that would benefit the USA and who have businesses willing to sponsor them.

Some critical occupations with shortages such as nursing are given priority, but there is so much bad pizza in this country, that I think expert pizza makers should also be given priority.  :)

Regardless of immigration issues, your chances of be hired here in a restaurant would be much greater if you had professional restaurant experience, the more the better.

Good luck!

Bill/SFNM


Offline Rick

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Re: Who wants to open a pizzaria?
« Reply #22 on: September 13, 2005, 04:00:27 AM »
Rick,
I admire your passion and I hope your dream to work here comes true. If you are not a U.S. citizen, you may be aware that getting work here also requires the proper government permits (see http://uscis.gov/graphics/howdoi/ead.htm). Since 9/11, it can be much harder, even for those with special skills that would benefit the USA and who have businesses willing to sponsor them.

Some critical occupations with shortages such as nursing are given priority, but there is so much bad pizza in this country, that I think expert pizza makers should also be given priority.  :)

Regardless of immigration issues, your chances of be hired here in a restaurant would be much greater if you had professional restaurant experience, the more the better.

Good luck!

Bill/SFNM




Hi  Bill, thanks for your support.
I'know everything regarding immigration issues and I know full well how difficult it is to get a Visa to live and work in US ( I'm speaking of at least an H1-B or a Green Card, 'cause  non immigrant visas are a little more easy to get), but I'm stubborn and I'll find a way to let my dream come true.
i know that it's very important to get some papers, that's why I'm going to attend a class of pizza making from Gambero Rosso's school (one of the best in Italy) and then I'll try to make some experience in Rome's restaurants.... I can already prepare many delicious italian dishes and a good pizza but it semms like that papers are considered better thant experience (worldiwide not only in US)
Anyway I'll keep U updated on my progress ....
Bye and thanks

Rick


Offline durbancic

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Re: Who wants to open a pizzaria?
« Reply #23 on: September 27, 2005, 02:36:02 AM »
Hi guys, I am a new guy here.

Wow! You are all very naieve. Running a pizza shop is not as profitable as many of you guys think. Yes dough and sauce are relatively cheap. But I run a Hungry Howie's Pizza in Canton, OH and you guys are up in the clouds. Cheese is the most expensive part of the pizza, by far! We use 100% motzarella, so it is more expensive than most, but a large cheese pizza: dough, sauce, and cheese costs us $1.66 to make. $1.33 of that being the cheese!!! Vegetable toppings and pepperoni are realatively cheap toppings, but bacon is a real expensive one, along with some of the other meats. Now, the food cost for most of our pizzas runs around 25%. This is a realatively low number. Other products we sell, wings (50%), subs (35%), salads (40%), pop (50%), do not have such a good food cost. averaging our products out, over a month, our food and paper cost comes out to be 33% of profits. Add another 23% onto that for labor and you are at:
33%+23%= 56% of profits used already.
Now add on to that overhead.
1 months rent $1500 (in a relatively high-traffic area).
+water+electric+gas+franchise fees+Advertising (5%-10%)+insurance for delivery drivers $3000+loan payments+etc. etc. etc.
I think you get my drift. Profit is approximately 10%-15% on a shop, if it is successful and run correctly. I am not trying to discourage you  guys, I just would like you to correcly analyze this before dreaming about it too much.


-dan

Offline David

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Re: Who wants to open a pizzaria?
« Reply #24 on: September 27, 2005, 11:13:21 AM »
Hi Rick,
           I would suggest you get a job in Italy with one of the major Hotel Corporations such as Hilton,Marriot,Inter Continental.That way you'll have the support of a major company and all of its power and opportunities available to you.They often move people around to gain experience and broaden their culinary repertoire.New York is full of Italian Chefs,so it would be relatively easy for you to network.I came to this country as an illegal,and found it relatively easy as English is my mother tongue,but I still would not reccomend it.BTW have you tried Stefano's Pizza in Tivoli?Last time I was there,I hopped on a train from Rome to visit him (he's right opposite Tivoli Station) and is very passionate about Neapolitan Pizza.Good luck,
                                                      David
If you're looking for a date... go to the Supermarket.If you're looking for a wife....go to the Farmers market


 

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