Since Round Table was founded in 1959, no doubt you are correct that the early RT pizzas were baked in deck ovens. However, it is also possible that RT made many changes over the years and that today’s RT pizza is quite different from the original ones. As you know, suppliers come and go, and operators frequently change suppliers and ingredients when they feel they are getting gouged or they want lower food costs, even if it cheapens the quality of the pizzas. The big pizza chains make changes to their product all the time, except that they are smart enough to make the changes gradually so that their customers don’t notice them. As a simple example, I noticed that several members (including me) have been using mozzarella cheese, Provolone cheese and cheddar cheese in a 3:1:1 ratio. I don’t know if that was based on what RT is/was doing (ThatOneGuy couldn’t remember the cheese ratios used) but, if so, that ratio has changed. According to the RT website, RT is now using 80% whole-milk mozzarella cheese, 10% Provolone cheese, and 10% aged cheddar cheese. Making that change alone--which most customers are unlikely to detect--would reduce food costs because mozzarella cheese is cheaper than Provolone and possibly aged cheddar. It also shows how difficult it is to try to keep up with the changes in our clones. A simple change in sauce can throw things off quite a bit for those of us who are trying to make clones in our homes.
I also agree with you that it is logical to prepare skins in advance. And, no doubt, there are people in RT’s research lab who know this. However, making this change, especially on a large scale, could change the product too much and lead to customer complaints. I am sure that RT thought long and hard about going to screens, disks and air impingement ovens but it perhaps was inevitable that they would go that route as the chain grew over the years. According to the last PMQ Pizza Power Report (2006), RT was the 9th largest pizza chain in the U.S. by sales, with close to 500 units. On that scale, changes have to be well thought out and implemented carefully so as not to change the way their pizzas are perceived and received by their customers. Of course, in a home setting, we are free to do as we wish. So, if it is easier to make up the skins in advance when it is the best time to do so, and especially if the end product is better (always a matter of opinion), then that is the way we should go. If using a pizza stone produces better results than a pan, disk or screen--which is also a matter of personal opinion—then that is also the way one should go. I personally like the combination of a premade skin and a cutter pan (or disk) because I can make the pizzas at someone else’s place without having to lug along a pizza stone and a peel. And the skins should survive the travel time in very good shape, especially if they are folded in quarters (and pre-docked), as I have been doing with my cracker-style skins, and placed in an insulated carrier. It may even be possible to carry the premade skins on a plane for flights of a few hours or less, although no doubt the security personnel will run your luggage through the scanner when they see a chunk of metal (cutter pan or disk).