Pizzerias can save money—and make better pizza—by outsourcing some menu items to baking professionals.

Switching over to a third-party bakery can help your bottom line while still providing guests with the sweets and breads they crave.



 

In the constant quest to be more and offer more, many pizzeria operators have decided to focus on the stars of their menu—pizza and pasta—and outsource items such as bread and desserts. While some may initially balk at the idea of outsourcing anything coming out of their kitchen, let’s take a quick look at some of the biggest benefits of leaving the baking to someone else.

1  You’ll save money. Making bread and pastries is a labor-intensive endeavor. Unless you’re going to hire someone full-time to focus on artisan bread and pastry making, training your in-house staff to produce items that meet the standard of professional bakers involves quite a learning curve. “Bakeries have so much more experience, and they already know what I’m looking for,” says RC Gallegos, owner of RC’S NYC Pizza & Pasta in Houston. “Switching over to an outsourced bread supplier definitely helped with our bottom line.”

“Bakeries have so much more experience, and they already know what I’m looking for. Switching over to an outsourced bread supplier definitely helped with our bottom line.”
—RC Gallegos, RC’S NYC Pizza & Pasta

2  You can focus on making better pizza. If you aren’t branded as a bakery and your goal is not to be known around town for your artisan baked goods, think twice about taking time away from your pizza in order to make bread. “Why not focus on what you do best and master your craft?” Gallegos says. “We used to make everything by hand, but now we outsource the hoagie bread, cheesecake and cannoli cream. I get my cannoli cream from Jersey—I can’t make it better than them. Why reinvent the wheel? It can cause inconsistencies and eat up your labor.”

3  Your menu can grow or diversify without added labor. If you aren’t already offering a selection of desserts or a variety of bread and roll choices, think about how outsourcing may help you offer your guests more. At Panino’s in Chicago, owner Gino Rago says the pizzeria makes its own gelato but outsources its brownies, cookies, cannoli and gluten-free chocolate cake, mostly from national purveyors. “I’m a pizzeria owner,” Rago says. “I don’t want to make specialty desserts when skilled labor is hard to find and desserts make up only about half of 1% of my sales.”

Gallegos agrees. “After outsourcing our hoagie rolls, we started using them in place of our garlic sticks, too, since they were easier to store and held up better,” he notes. “We now use the same bread for our hoagies, our garlic bread appetizer and alongside all of our pasta dishes.”

4  You can appeal to an expanded demographic. Do guests ever ask if you offer gluten-free pizza, sugar-free dessert or vegan pastries? Imagine being able to respond “yes” when asked about difficult or time-consuming menu offerings. Outsourcing opens up new revenue-generating opportunities while still allowing you and your staff to focus on what you do best.

Have a new lineup of desserts? Highlight daily dessert specials online and with in-store chalkboards.

 

5  You’ll enjoy more product consistency if you leave these items to experienced professionals. If you are making your own bread, rolls and pastries in-house, you may have suffered food loss due to overcooking, undercooking, inconsistent appearance and more. Issues like these are usually remedied when you use local and/or national purveyors. “I was looking for more consistency in my product,” Gallegos says. “My employees aren’t bread bakers, so there was a lot of inconsistency and waste. I work with a local bakery that’s a known brand and that deals with central markets and other restaurants in the area.”

6  Your ovens and counters won’t be overcrowded. What’s more important to the success of your pizzeria? Baking a pizza or a loaf of bread? Most pizzeria operators will agree that their pizza takes precedence. You won’t even have to make that decision if you outsource. Besides, making and keeping bread takes space. Do you have the extra space for bread trays in addition to your pizza equipment?

7  You can still woo guests with the smell of fresh-baked items. Whether you’re outsourcing bread, cookies, cakes or muffins, suppliers will work with you to deliver what you need as an operator. If you still want guests to enjoy the smell of bread and cookies coming out of the oven, there are numerous par-baked options that can offer a middle ground between baking yourself and a ready-made product. 

Liz Barrett is PMQ’s editor at large and author of Pizza: A Slice of History.

 

 

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