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Author Topic: Looking for feedback on my plan for starting a part-time pizza business  (Read 1048 times)

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Offline Samson

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Hi everyone,

Iím a home pizza baker and am considering expanding my pizza making from a hobby to a part-time business. Iíve seen people with similar plans post on this forum and receive great input and Iím hoping to get any advice or thoughts people have on my plan. Iíve posted on this forum before and have already received great advice and benefited a ton so thank you.

My plan is to do private catering for small parties in our area. This would be a side business I do on the weekends on top of my regular job. This approach could hopefully allow me to start with small events for friends or neighbors, gain experience and a reputation and build up to larger events. Iíd like to be able to do a handful of events over the course of the spring/summer 2023 and see if this is a viable business model that I could expand.

I envision the target event would be someone hosting 20-50 people at their house over the course of a few hours. I would arrive with a team of 3-4 people, set up a tent, tables, everything else we need for a pop-up and serve a variety of 12 inch pizzas to the guests over 2-4 hours. With a 3-4 person team I could be the one opening the dough and assembling, someone on the ovens, and someone finishing the pies and answering questions people have or taking orders if needed.

One main question I am wrestling with is what type of oven to use. I have a Breville oven which I love and an Ooni Fyra which Iím not a huge fan of. My options are either to get new gas ovens (maybe 2 Ooni Koda 16s) or get an additional Breville. My preference would be to use the Brevilleís because the style of pizza I like to make is somewhere between a Neapolitan and a NY. With the Breville I can get a light airy crumb but with a crispy crust that really gives a nice texture. Iím not really able to do that when Iíve tried an oven with a flame (but in fairness I havenít practiced nearly as much as I have on the Breville). The Breville is also very easy to use, I could have someone inexperienced on the ovens but with gas ovens I would need to have people with experience running them. I think that because the Breville has a heating source underneath the stone they probably reheat more quickly than a gas oven but I havenít tested that out. The downsides of the Breville are the cost and the power source. They run on 15 Amps so I think my best bet would be to get two handheld generators (like a Honda EU 2200i) to power each oven. That adds a big cost, as well as noise and complexity that isnít ideal. So Iím not sure what the best oven solution is yet.

Going with the Breville would also allow me to offer a unique product. Iíve been to some local pizza pop-ups and food trucks, and while they are good they all make a Neapolitan style pizza with a soft crust that bakes under 2 min. People like this style and it allows the operators to get as much out as quickly as possible so I realize the benefits but the Breville would produce something a bit different that may allow me to stand out.

Assuming I used two Breville ovens I think I would need 5-8 minutes per pizza per oven (including reheating time) so that puts me probably at around 15-18 pizzas per hour with two ovens. I would probably do more with a gas oven depending on how quickly the deck heats back up. I *think* for a private event getting out 30 pizzas in two hours should be sufficient, but if not maybe Iíd need to limit the size of the events I could do, or get more help/more ovens. I imagine I would have a few pizzas fresh at the start of the event and then basically replace them as quickly as I can as people take slices.

Aside from the operational considerations the big challenge I will have is getting potential customers without having an established brand or reputation in the area. My kids go to daycare in the area and Iíve given plenty of pizza to the teachers there so my initial strategy would be to advertise through the daycare if they are willing. A kids backyard graduation party could be an ideal type of event. Besides that though I donít have a ton of ideas of how to get my name out there and get prospective clients.

Since this isnít my primary source of income Iím not too focused on the economics yet. If Iím able to get clients for next spring Iím thinking I would charge them the cost of labor and ingredients basically since they arenít hiring an experienced caterer. If Iím successful and want to do this more seriously Iíd have to focus a bit more on the numbers.

One aspect I didnít mention was the health department regs, cooking in a commercial kitchen and some of those other operational issues. That is on my radar and something I donít expect to get advice on here since it varies so much from area to area but that is something Iím researching. Iím hopeful that if Iím doing small private catering events for neighbors or people I know through the daycare I may be able to get out of some of the red-tape, but Iíll have to research.

Please let me know if you have any thoughts on my plan! Any advice or aspects I'm not considering? You can find pictures of my pizza at my Instagram account, @pizza_katz.

www.instagram.com/pizza_katz

Thanks for your help!

Offline Pizza_Not_War

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Re: Looking for feedback on my plan for starting a part-time pizza business
« Reply #1 on: November 07, 2022, 05:24:40 PM »
Your pizza looks great! My first thought is that Breville ovens are not commercial duty ovens. I see equipment failure in your future. I'd look at something more robust like Effueno or similar if you want to stick with electric.

Secondly I'd think about the economics from the start and price accordingly to prove if the concept works for you.

Offline HansB

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Re: Looking for feedback on my plan for starting a part-time pizza business
« Reply #2 on: November 07, 2022, 05:44:03 PM »
Check member thezaman, here on the forum. He uses two Breville ovens succesfully for indoor catering.
Instagram @hans_michigan.

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Offline Cogs

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Re: Looking for feedback on my plan for starting a part-time pizza business
« Reply #3 on: November 07, 2022, 07:26:46 PM »
Effeuno is a great oven but not many people are going to have a 240v outlet available and certainly not two of them. Recovery time is not all that great on Breville you may need three, two cooking one recovering but Iíll differ to thezaman on that.

Online Timpanogos Slim

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Re: Looking for feedback on my plan for starting a part-time pizza business
« Reply #4 on: November 07, 2022, 10:32:28 PM »
Effeuno is a great oven but not many people are going to have a 240v outlet available and certainly not two of them. Recovery time is not all that great on Breville you may need three, two cooking one recovering but Iíll differ to thezaman on that.

Electricians can add as many 240v outlets as you like. To a point anyway - whatever the maximum current supported by your connection is.
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Offline HansB

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Re: Looking for feedback on my plan for starting a part-time pizza business
« Reply #5 on: November 07, 2022, 10:38:42 PM »
Electricians can add as many 240v outlets as you like. To a point anyway - whatever the maximum current supported by your connection is.

In his post he says he plans events in his area. I'm guessing everone that wants an event in their home will not want to install 240v outles for one event...
Instagram @hans_michigan.

"The most important element of pizza is the dough. Pizza is bread after all. Bread with toppings." -Brian Spangler

"Ultimately, pizza is a variety of condiments on top of bread. If I wanted to evolve, I figured out that I had to understand bread and first make the best bread I possibly could. Only then could my pizza evolve as well." Dan Richer

Offline scott r

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Re: Looking for feedback on my plan for starting a part-time pizza business
« Reply #6 on: November 07, 2022, 11:18:08 PM »
I agree with this....You really don't want electric here.... but years ago I built an extension cord for my electric countertop 240v oven.  I was able to take it anywhere I wanted by plugging into my friends dryer outlet and running the cord out a window.   I probably took that oven to 8 different houses over the years for various birthday parties, 25th anniversary, 4th of July etc.

Online Timpanogos Slim

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Re: Looking for feedback on my plan for starting a part-time pizza business
« Reply #7 on: November 07, 2022, 11:35:53 PM »
In his post he says he plans events in his area. I'm guessing everone that wants an event in their home will not want to install 240v outles for one event...

Ah yeah. Most homeowners have a 240v for an electric dryer, and while you can build an extension cord for that, I'm not sure you can power more than one oven off it
« Last Edit: November 07, 2022, 11:37:41 PM by Timpanogos Slim »
Pepperoni is just American chorizo.
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Offline Samson

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Re: Looking for feedback on my plan for starting a part-time pizza business
« Reply #8 on: November 08, 2022, 07:38:13 AM »
Thanks for the input. I think using a 240V oven is just not worth the hassle. A third option instead of propane ovens or generators is to use extension cords to power the Breville as Scott suggests. I would need to be able to wire to different circuits in the house, so even if homeowners have an outdoor outlet iíd probably still need to be bringing a wire inside the house for a second outlet. My worry is that this would create a tripping issue, and just in general a burden on the hosts that I wouldnít want to impose. I also read that with a long extension cord you would lose voltage which I thought may cause the Brevilleís to underperform. So maybe propane is the best option, still not sure.

In terms of the economics all the main variables have a lot of uncertainty so hard to map it out without doing a few events. If I pay 2-3 people for a few hours Iíd probably have between $200-$300 in labor costs, and the ingredients are probably not more than $150. I can do the math on how much ingredients cost but the amount of waste I have doing infrequent events will really increase the cost and make it less efficient. If I get insurance and use a commercial kitchen that adds expense too, so Iím thinking Iím around $500 in cost to start. That doesnít factor in the fixed costs of buying new ovens, generators etc. So to make any profit Iíd be looking at charging $500-$1k per event. For a 40 person event they will range from $12.5 to $25 a person, not sure if thereís a market for pizza at that cost. Thatís an unknown to me and really thatís the main thing Iím trying to learn by trying these events.

Back to the oven question, Iíve seen pop-ups use Roccboxes and Ooni Koda 16s but nothing else.Does anyone know if any others that are as portable that may work? I started looking at Carbon as a possible alternative but not sure it is ideal for this type of set up.

Offline deb415611

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Re: Looking for feedback on my plan for starting a part-time pizza business
« Reply #9 on: November 08, 2022, 07:59:21 AM »
If I were your customer a 240 wouldn't work, I wouldn't want to move my dryer, it is in a space where it is side vented and moving it isn't as easy as if it's vented out the back.  It would also put the dryer in the hallway between the kitchen and the garage and would block that hallway.   
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Offline TXCraig1

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Re: Looking for feedback on my plan for starting a part-time pizza business
« Reply #10 on: November 08, 2022, 09:42:42 AM »
Quote
One aspect I didnít mention was the health department regs, cooking in a commercial kitchen and some of those other operational issues. That is on my radar and something I donít expect to get advice on here since it varies so much from area to area but that is something Iím researching. Iím hopeful that if Iím doing small private catering events for neighbors or people I know through the daycare I may be able to get out of some of the red-tape, but Iíll have to research.

This is probably the first thing to research because nothing else matters if they shut you down before you start. It may be simple, or you may have to fight regs that determine what oven you can/can't use, regs that affect where you can make the dough, and regs that affect how you execute the catering itself.

Quote
Since this isnít my primary source of income Iím not too focused on the economics yet. If Iím able to get clients for next spring Iím thinking I would charge them the cost of labor and ingredients basically since they arenít hiring an experienced caterer. If Iím successful and want to do this more seriously Iíd have to focus a bit more on the numbers.

My guess is that most folks want to not have to worry about the catering going well. I'm not thinking that telling folks you don't really know what you're doing may not be the best marketing strategy. Really, before you offer your service, you should know that you can do it and do it well. Even if someone agrees to get a discount to be a Guinea pig, they is a pretty good chance they will flame you if you screw it up.
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Offline Samson

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Re: Looking for feedback on my plan for starting a part-time pizza business
« Reply #11 on: November 08, 2022, 10:43:35 AM »
My guess is that most folks want to not have to worry about the catering going well. I'm not thinking that telling folks you don't really know what you're doing may not be the best marketing strategy. Really, before you offer your service, you should know that you can do it and do it well. Even if someone agrees to get a discount to be a Guinea pig, they is a pretty good chance they will flame you if you screw it up.

I agree I think it's a balance. On the one hand I of course would not frame it as me not knowing what I'm doing, or using them as a Guinea pig, but on the other I do think it is appropriate to be honest that this would be me trying to get a catering business off the ground. Ideally I could start with friends, or friends of friends where there is a bit less pressure. Do a couple of events to get grounded and comfortable with the operations, and then not have to caveat my experience in this manner for clients going forward. I could even go out of pocket to do some events for friends as pure practice, get some experience and be able to be confident in what I and the team could do.


Offline woodfiredandrew

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Re: Looking for feedback on my plan for starting a part-time pizza business
« Reply #12 on: November 08, 2022, 11:42:27 AM »
Why not just get two Ooni Karu (Reason I said karu because i have tried on it and you can get the kind of a pizza you are planning to make, it has Temp Gauge so you can control it for favorable outcome ).
I have personally cooked 30-50 pizzas on regular basis using 2 roccbox . once we had 3 In a row and we made 300 x 12" pizzas in about 7-8 hours. point is,  i feel you are in control with these ovens when you are at someone's house. carrying electric oven for outdoor catering i am not sure, too many things can go wrong.   
People are unreasonable, illogical and self-centered, love them anyway. If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives, do good anyway. Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable, Be honest and frank anyway. If you are successful , you will win false friends and true enemies, succeed anyway.

Offline Samson

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Re: Looking for feedback on my plan for starting a part-time pizza business
« Reply #13 on: November 08, 2022, 11:51:55 AM »
Andrew, thanks this is really helpful. The only reason I didn't say Karu was just because I haven't seen it in action and didn't realize it offered benefits over the Koda 16. If it can produce a consistent lower temp pizza then that sounds great, and is probably my best option as you say. I'll search for some videos on "NY Style" in a Karu because that's probably the closest to what I'm trying to get.

300 pizzas! I helped out at a local event where we made 150 in around 3-4 hours. It was a 5 person operation, I was opening, the main pizzaiolo was on the ovens and we had 3 other people assembling, finishing and dealing with customers. Can't imagine 300 pies. It was a great experience to see how intense it can actually be. It also gave me some confidence that I could do it myself, with the right tools and help.

Offline woodfiredandrew

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Re: Looking for feedback on my plan for starting a part-time pizza business
« Reply #14 on: November 08, 2022, 12:14:40 PM »
Andrew, thanks this is really helpful. The only reason I didn't say Karu was just because I haven't seen it in action and didn't realize it offered benefits over the Koda 16. If it can produce a consistent lower temp pizza then that sounds great, and is probably my best option as you say. I'll search for some videos on "NY Style" in a Karu because that's probably the closest to what I'm trying to get.

300 pizzas! I helped out at a local event where we made 150 in around 3-4 hours. It was a 5 person operation, I was opening, the main pizzaiolo was on the ovens and we had 3 other people assembling, finishing and dealing with customers. Can't imagine 300 pies. It was a great experience to see how intense it can actually be. It also gave me some confidence that I could do it myself, with the right tools and help.

Let me be clear, i did not make 300 pizzas by myself  :'(  no way Jose.  Even if i make 3rd by myself trust me i won't be able to get up for work next day  :-D
With karu i practiced to get 3-5 min bake and it works like a champ,  practice it and you will get there in no time......Good Luck!!!
People are unreasonable, illogical and self-centered, love them anyway. If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives, do good anyway. Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable, Be honest and frank anyway. If you are successful , you will win false friends and true enemies, succeed anyway.

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Offline Chuck Light

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Re: Looking for feedback on my plan for starting a part-time pizza business
« Reply #15 on: November 21, 2022, 06:46:56 PM »
Maybe the person in post #20 can help you out as they seem to be doing exactly what you want to do but with 2 Roccboxs.
https://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=76949.0
Personally I think gas is the way to go.
Ideally I think Iíd like to roll up curbside or park in a driveway.  Pull out an awning, cook, clean up and head out.
Keep us up to date on your progress.

Offline 9slicePie

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Re: Looking for feedback on my plan for starting a part-time pizza business
« Reply #16 on: November 22, 2022, 04:13:51 PM »
How come when I posted a thread like this asking for advice about starting a pizza business, I got responses* like "Work in a pizza shop or else you will fail within 18 months!!!!111!!11!11111!!111!" [ ::)], but no such responses in this thread, and instead thoughtful posts?  ???





*Slightly exaggerating, but not totally.
« Last Edit: November 22, 2022, 04:17:27 PM by 9slicePie »

Offline Chuck Light

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Re: Looking for feedback on my plan for starting a part-time pizza business
« Reply #17 on: November 23, 2022, 10:12:48 PM »
How come when I posted a thread like this asking for advice about starting a pizza business, I got responses* like "Work in a pizza shop or else you will fail within 18 months!!!!111!!11!11111!!111!" [ ::)], but no such responses in this thread, and instead thoughtful posts?  ???





*Slightly exaggerating, but not totally.


I wouldnít take it personal.
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Offline jkaye01

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Re: Looking for feedback on my plan for starting a part-time pizza business
« Reply #18 on: November 25, 2022, 07:57:17 AM »
How come when I posted a thread like this asking for advice about starting a pizza business, I got responses* like "Work in a pizza shop or else you will fail within 18 months!!!!111!!11!11111!!111!" [ ::)], but no such responses in this thread, and instead thoughtful posts?  ???





*Slightly exaggerating, but not totally.

because he said "Since this isn’t my primary source of income I’m not too focused on the economics yet."

basically it doesnt really matter to make it a serious business, sounds like something done for fun with not a lot of risk. otherwise telling someone to work in a certain field for at least a year or two is the bare minimum required to make a business in that field. and that's probably not even 50% of whats required, its just a starting point, and pretty good advice.

Offline Travinos_Pizza

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Re: Looking for feedback on my plan for starting a part-time pizza business
« Reply #19 on: November 27, 2022, 07:39:50 PM »
Just hit the follow button on your Instagram, your pies look great!

I think your dead on with the Ooni Fyra. I sold mine a couple of years ago because of the lack of control. I can't speak much about the Breville, but I can say I much prefer using gas ovens.

Probably the best thing you can do is understand the math issue to avoid waste. It's why I'm leaning towards private catering with a set number.
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