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Author Topic: WFO? TO BE OR NOT TO BE?  (Read 368 times)

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Offline londonbeetle

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WFO? TO BE OR NOT TO BE?
« on: May 31, 2023, 02:37:20 PM »
wood fired oven guys ? is it a yes or no?

what would you rather see as a customer when you go in a pizzeria?
does a wood fired oven make a difference when customers go in ?
the smell of wood? the vision of the fire while the pizza bakes?  the vision of the oven from the outside. I understand that electric ovens can give similar results if not more consistent and some may argue superior at times. but doesn't the wood fired give a more authentic theatrical romantic experience for the dining in customer?

what do you think of wood fired ovens as an operator?

Offline highstakespizza

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Re: WFO? TO BE OR NOT TO BE?
« Reply #1 on: May 31, 2023, 07:12:40 PM »
I definitely donít have as much experience as I'm sure a lot of the other members might, but IMO it comes down to a few things.

1. Would it primarily be a sit-down or to-go place? Personally, I love seeing wood ovens when I buy pizza, but Iím not sure itís the best way to cook a pickup/delivery pie. On the other hand, I feel like if you want more of a sit down place, itís a big attention grabber, and maybe the first thing youíd notice/come to define the pizza shop.


2. What would the employee pool look like? I tend to think of wood ovens as the highest skill/most time consuming to operate. For instance - on a deck oven, you might pop a pizza in, and rotate, or remove from a screen. Conveyers are even easier. But I feel like it might be a full time job just manning the oven, and even then, it might not be a job you could work interchangeably with different employees. It kinda creates a bottleneck unless youíve got a good pool of experienced workers.


3. What style of pizza - Iíd probably only go for a wood oven if I was doing more craft/Neapolitan pizzas. I donít know if it would lend itself to lower margin/higher volume business - but others probably have more experience than I do here.

4. Whatís important to you as an owner? I see wood burning ovens as being analogous to driving a super car. They take a lot of training, thereís a lot of risk, they tend to be more expensive. But when everything comes together thereís really no way to replicate it. Do you need a super car? It depends - absolutely if youíre competing in a race, but maybe not if youíre driving to work. At the same time - maybe thereís something about cooking on a wood oven thatís just satisfying - knowing itís hard to do and youíve mastered it, I feel like thatís a valid reason to do things too, even if you donít strictly need it.

Offline Pizza_Not_War

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Re: WFO? TO BE OR NOT TO BE?
« Reply #2 on: May 31, 2023, 07:33:26 PM »
Seems like you asked this question before in a slightly different way. Is it a test?

Offline foreplease

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Re: WFO? TO BE OR NOT TO BE?
« Reply #3 on: May 31, 2023, 07:53:56 PM »
Seems like you asked this question before in a slightly different way. Is it a test?
Good catch. There were many thoughtful answers there too.
https://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=79783.msg749963#msg749963


Iíll add mine: a little piece of me dies every time I go to a wood or coal fired place and find the pizza is not good. We have a nice one 20-25 minutes from here and know of a couple good choices in Chicago, where we find ourselves often. Itís not my everyday pizza but every time I have it I want it to be worthwhile. When I hear WFO + new restaurant in this part of the country I know there is at least a 50% chance I will be disappointed.
-Tony

Offline scott r

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Re: WFO? TO BE OR NOT TO BE?
« Reply #4 on: June 01, 2023, 12:29:27 AM »
The general public does not care if a pizza is wood burning, deck oven, coal oven, electric oven etc.  Sure us pizza geeks do, but we are a minuscule portion of what your customer base will be.  I have seen this proven time and time again.  What the general public DOES care about is if your pizza is awesome or not.  If you make the best pizza your going to busy regardless of what oven you use.  They dont care if its round, square, pan, rolled with a pin etc.   Make KILLER pizza with great ingredients that is well balanced. They will come. 

A beautiful wood burning oven is no more alluring to a common customer than if that money was spent on really creative, beautiful restaurant design with a high quality build out or a very special bar.  Im sure you have heard this before... location, location, location.... that doesnt hurt either.   The type of oven is low on the list of things that will get people to frequent your establishment.

The more pizzerias that are making great pizza with say, electric Pizzamaster style deck ovens, the less people care about a WFO, and they are EXPLODING across the globe right now.   Plus, many WFO equipped pizzerias are not making great pizza.  There may have been a time where a WFO mattered more, but it is fading.

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Offline woodfiredandrew

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Re: WFO? TO BE OR NOT TO BE?
« Reply #5 on: June 01, 2023, 09:33:40 AM »
When i did my time in front of wood fired oven in pizzeria i used to do unscientific survey ( with sample size of circa 500 customers) by asking them what is the reason for repeat visit.
10% customers wowed by woodfired oven and back for it
15-20% liked woodfired oven and overall ambiance it created. 
Rest were there because of taste and price of the food, location, convenience etc. 
If you have a wood fired oven outside your open kitchen which creates great ambiance and that is not a primary source for your cooking then i would have it for sure. In another words upscale restaurant can afford if their profitability allows them to do it then by all means put a great looking oven.
 Reason i said it because i have helped a very upscale place in creating pizza menu because owner got two great looking accunto (gold tiled) at her place. which generates less than 10% revenue directly from it.   
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 londonbeetle

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Re: WFO? TO BE OR NOT TO BE?
« Reply #6 on: June 02, 2023, 08:42:24 AM »
The general public does not care if a pizza is wood burning, deck oven, coal oven, electric oven etc.  Sure us pizza geeks do, but we are a minuscule portion of what your customer base will be.  I have seen this proven time and time again.  What the general public DOES care about is if your pizza is awesome or not.  If you make the best pizza your going to busy regardless of what oven you use.  They dont care if its round, square, pan, rolled with a pin etc.   Make KILLER pizza with great ingredients that is well balanced. They will come. 

A beautiful wood burning oven is no more alluring to a common customer than if that money was spent on really creative, beautiful restaurant design with a high quality build out or a very special bar.  Im sure you have heard this before... location, location, location.... that doesnt hurt either.   The type of oven is low on the list of things that will get people to frequent your establishment.

The more pizzerias that are making great pizza with say, electric Pizzamaster style deck ovens, the less people care about a WFO, and they are EXPLODING across the globe right now.   Plus, many WFO equipped pizzerias are not making great pizza.  There may have been a time where a WFO mattered more, but it is fading.


thanks Scott-
Are you implying that the smoke from the burning wood do not give an additional taste to a pizza baked in those ovens?
Does it not fill the place with a wonderful aroma?

Offline guybrush

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Re: WFO? TO BE OR NOT TO BE?
« Reply #7 on: June 02, 2023, 10:16:07 AM »
there just is not a lot of smoke, you cook with extreme high heat, it's not low temperature brisket.

 i doubt more than 1% of people could taste the difference between an WFO and an gas oven, might not even be possible at all.

If you can taste the difference it's likely because the heat is slightly different, like the air dryness.

If people can smell the smoke in your place, the fire department should close your place immediately.

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