I figured I'd share with you guys about where I am at and maybe get some opinions. For the past few years I've been researching opening up a pizzeria. My sort of dream is a place like American Flatbread where people are sitting around by a fire drinking beer while waiting for your pizza but this is not very realistic in this area so there will have to be some compromises.
We (my wife and I) found a little hole in the wall here in Bergen County NJ that fits our bill. A lot of this has to do with our $$$ which since we are paying cash for everything and opening on a tight budget, we'd be taking over a pizza place that went out of business (nobody ever heard of it, including myself so I am not worried much about the stigma attached with it). The fact that it was a pizza place helps out with a few things that would be costly already being in place (they took all of their equipment which is fine with me but for example an ADA bathroom, some 3 phase wiring, etc.). Location has poor visibility but great central location and parking (which can be tough here). We'll have to overcome the visibility with advertising. One nice thing is I will be able to make a website and do online ordering for essentially no cost aside from CC fees and merchant account. Demographic here is upper middle to upper class. This is in the town over from A Mano, a lot different from Ridgewood, but still a lot of well to do people.
The concept is formed somewhat around the location due to limited size but also due to my personal preference. Overall it is sort of like a mix between zPizza, Naked Pizza and Pizza Fusion, but of course better (I don't particularly like the food from zPizza or Pizza Fusion and haven't tried Naked Pizza). We are looking for fresh, healthy, local, organic. In terms of sourcing ingredients cheese is actually my biggest concern as it is the single most expensive component of the pizza and I'd love to find a source of cheese that is local, rBST/rBGH free and/or organic. Great fresh, local cow's milk mozzarella is an easy find but these will not likely fit either of the other criteria. I also do not know how fresh mozzarella would do in delivery and if it would be a deal breaker for people with children who seem to prefer dry mozzarella. Dine in would be extremely limited, most likely seating for 16 via 4 tables of 4. I believe we would have to do delivery and take out to profit even though delivery is not something I would do if I had the choice. Menu would be limited to pizza and salads, no fryers, burners, etc. planned. While it may seem random my wife would like to do some fresh baked chocolate chip cookies as well! For the pizza, I am thinking a cook temp of something like 600F, possibly higher and something like a 22oz dough ball for 16" pizza. I would need to do a lot of testing in a real oven but don't want to pull the trigger as if we pick this location we'll be getting specifically small ovens due to space limitations. For ovens this will be a difficult decision and unsure between gas and electric. Gas is pretty cheap here, at around $1.50 per 100,000 BTUs. I like the Baker's Pride GS805 which are small, 4 x 16" each (x2). I hope that we could do 60/hour in that combination. Electric seems like it has its advantages as well. The one Jeff Varasano has which comes in a 32.5x32.5 deck. It is very small, efficient and won't give off a ton of heat. Requires much less heat up time. There's also local oven manufacturer that will make us basically a Baker's Pride clone with more powerful gas burners, also. This would mainly be for recovery not for baking at a hotter temperature. I did score an OLD work horse Hobart 80 quart mixer for basically nothing but haven't tried it out yet. It isn't pretty but the guy said it works fine. He upgraded to a 120qt.
We are sort of in a holding pattern deciding whether or not to pull the trigger. Part of the obvious tough decision is that it is going to be a full time++ job, and will not really leave time for my current position where I've been 5+ years. One option we have is opening Fri-Sun weekly where I could keep my FT job, but I am not sure how this will be perceived by potential customers. If we did do a 3 day week, we could rent out the space to bakers or whatever during the week to offset income if necessary. I've got the spreadsheets all done up but basically it comes down to "If I can sell X pizzas then we will do OK" but who knows the answer to "IF"?! In the meantime I've gotten a job at a pizza place, learning a lot, and am trying to hone in on the answer to that question.