Contributors Joel and Dynadeuce are the most accurate recollections I can find on this thread. Here’s my similar contribution. Consider it a fractured brain dump but not too bad for 30 years later.
I was an assistant manager at the Shakey’s on Rockville Pike, MD while in high school, circa 1975-1978. In the years I worked there, I trained in all positions including cook, till, prep, skins, fryer, bar and yes even scullery - and then assistant manager. The store was reported to be the second largest volume Shakey’s at the time, which I believe. It was a seriously happenin’ place most nights and all weekend. Country music on Thursdays, Dixieland Jazz on Friday nights and Country/Bluegrass on Saturday nights (or maybe the other way around). Weekend days were packed with birthdays, soccer teams and later included football fans when we finally installed a projection TV.
First of all, the dough was definitely made with shortening. The shortening was stored in the dry goods storage room, in a bag, in a box, room-temperature. It wasn’t refrigerated, so it clearly wasn’t lard. It was a Crisco-type shortening, a.k.a. 100% pure vegetable shortening. That’s right, hydrogenated vegetable oils (trans fats).
I recall weighing something like 16 oz per batch, requiring me to reach into the bag and scoop out pure, white, slimy goop with my hand. I clearly recall it was a large glob of the stuff. I have big hands and by the time it was weighed out on a waxed paper sheet, it filled my paw like I was holding a large softball. This is important because this should tell me, as a Crisco crust, that once cooked there would be a certain flakiness to the crust and a certain mouth-feel of hot pizza versus cold, and there should have been less grease in the delivery boxes than other pizza shops that used oil based recipes. However, I don’t remember if any of this was the case, only that we did use shortening.
The dough recipe was flour, water, shortening, yeast and a pack of Shakey’s dough mix, additives that I have no idea what they were, but it was likely salt, sugar and perhaps some leavening or gluten extenders and perhaps some preservatives. The bag was packaged and labeled by Shakey’s. The yeast was fresh compressed cake yeast made by Anheuser-Busch provided by our local beer distributor. It was provided in one-pound bricks and we used one brick per batch. The process was to pour water into the Hobart bowl. Then the blob of shortening was dropped in. Then measured bus tubs of flour were dumped in. On top of it all we poured the contents on one bag of Shakey’s dough mix and a crumbled brick of yeast. Then, with the dough hook installed, turn on the mixer and time it to something like 10 minutes. Looking back, we should have measured the temperature of the water but I just don’t ever recall a bad batch unless we forgot an ingredient when assembling. The water was measured by volume using 5-gallon pickle buckets.
Sorry I can’t recall the flour weights but I do recall the finished batch was heavy and it was awkward to lift the finished dough out of the Hobart bowl onto the stainless prep table. I had to sort of roll it up the side of the Hobart bowl into my lap and then shove it onto the prep table, so I’m guessing it weighed 35 pounds finished. From there I sliced it into five even pieces and placed them into five covered bus tubs for a first rise (and sometimes a second rise if we were busy). Once the dough raised enough to lift the covers off the tubs, we punched the dough down and then the tubs were stacked in the cooler on shelves until the next day when they were used for rolling into “skins”.
To make skins, cold bus tubs of dough were removed from the cooler and carried to the rolling area. One loaf was mixed with no more than 10% scraps from the previous loaf. At the end of the day we tossed any remaining scraps, usually a bus tub full. They were never saved for the next day. Then through the sheeter it went, first one way and then, reducing the roller gap by a click, the dough went back the other way. The first couple passes required folding and rotating. Sheeting was repeated until the entire loaf was reduced to a thickness of perhaps no more than a sixteenth of an inch and perhaps 20 feet long, or more if you ran a double loaf. The sheeted loaf was rolled onto a large rolling pin which was then moved to the cutting table for cutting. The long sheet of pinned dough was then pulled out, enough to cover the full length of a 10 foot butcher-block cutting table. Four stainless ring templates, a docker and a 2-inch putty knife were used to dock and cut the skins. When prepping for a busy weekend night, it was nothing to stack 500 Family size skins, 350 Doubles and 150 Singles. We never cut birthday size skins ahead of time (the 4th template), instead we cut down a single size skin when the birthday order came in. Ten skins were penny-stacked, each separated with a piece of wax paper and then all ten sandwiched between two pizza pans. This went into the cooler for use the next day. An interesting side note that I was taught is that docking the dough is not intended to poke a zillion holes in the dough, but instead to pinch together the dozens of dough laminations that are formed when sheeting. No matter the purpose, docking definitely reduces dough bubbles when baking.
For the sauce, make no mistake, the tomatoes we used were Heinz Tomato Puree, 1.06 Specific Gravity, Net Wt. 6 LB. 9 OZ. (MFD in USA by H. J. Heinz Co.) I know this because I still have an empty can I use for nuts & bolts in the garage. Don’t over think this. The sauce recipe was puree, water and an herb mix pre-packaged and labeled by Shakey’s. The bag was mostly filled with green herbs. I’d think any Italian mix of basil, oregano, dried garlic, salt and sugar would be a good place to reverse engineer from, but again, this was mostly dried green herbs, water and puree.
Equal parts of water and puree were placed in the Hobart bowl and to this was added the Shakey’s herb mix. I think each Hobart batch included three (3) cases of puree plus equal water and one herb bag per case of sauce (or one bag per batch?). Each case was six cans. The mixture was stirred with a Hobart wire whip for 15 minutes or so to distribute the spices and herbs. It was typical to mix two full batches of sauce per day resulting in the filling of a 30 gallon plastic trash can nearly to the top which was then stored in the cooler. Two trash cans were used in rotation. Doing a bit of math, each batch would have resulted in about 13 gallons or so of sauce (estimate 100 pounds +/-), enough weight that it took two people to lift each batch into the can. I made the mistake of trying to lift a batch by myself one evening only to instead dump most of the batch on the floor. It was too heavy and awkward for one person to lift and pour.
There was never any wine added to the sauce as suggested by a previous contributor. They may instead be thinking of Shakeys Secret Sauce which was used on some of the sandwiches. It was made with 1 part mayonnaise and ½ part red wine vinegar plus ½ part salad oil. There was no wine on the premises, ever. We didn’t sell wine.
The cheese was mostly part-skim low moisture mozzarella, a lesser amount of provolone and only a small amount of cheddar. Using the Hobart, it was all ground on-site into bus tubs, covered and stored in the cooler. The cheese was all high quality and very expensive. We didn’t use any soy cheese products. There was no parmesan cheese added to the base mix but it was offered to patrons in shaker jars when they picked up their order.
The 1975 menu stated “…FROM THE GIANT 750 deg OVENS IN THE WINDOWS…” . I don’t recall the ovens being set quite that hot, but maybe so. Pies took 5-7 minutes depending on how often the oven doors were opened and yes, I have one of those menus. A family size cheese pizza (serves 4) was $3.10. The family size Shakey’s Special pizza was $4.95. I think when I was hired, I started at $ 2.85/hour.
As I read through this site it’s clear that one of the reasons for Shakey’s near-distinction was the lack of corporate quality assurance. There are just too many variations in the contributions to think all owners and managers adhered to the same recipes. That being said, I do recall a couple early spot-inspections by Shakey’s corporate staff and, considering the volume of business we did, I would think our store was closely watched to be in compliance with corporate recipes. The owner tried once to change the recipe with a lower cost cheese, but we got busted by the Shakey’s cops and quickly reversed back.
Do the math: pizzas, sandwiches, salads and bar receipts and we routinely generated $10k-12k on a weekend night in revenue. Not too shabby for the 70’s. Later, in a last ditch effort to retain market, the store was transformed into a Shakey’s brass-bar theme but finally it was bought by Hooter’s, who have since relocated across Rockville Pike to a newer building. Today, the original red brick building sits vacant at 1471 Rockville Pike covered with painted, peeling white paneling awaiting the next Shakey’s visionary. Man, we had fun.