Tips for a faster slice

QUESTION:

We have an opportunity to open a pizza shop in a mall food court. The store will be small, and we would like to sell pizza by the slice. In your opinion, what is the best way to ensure the fastest turnaround on orders when dealing with slices?

ANSWER:

By far, you can achieve the fastest turnaround by using prepared pizzas that are cut into slices and stored in a temperature-/humidity-controlled cabinet for immediate sale. (A number of such cabinets are designed specifically for pizza storage.) However, rather than selling the slices directly from the cabinet, I would recommend that you first run them through a small deck oven for a minute or less to refresh them and add some crispiness to the bottom of the slice. For optimal results, reheat them while you are processing the customer’s payment and preparing his drink order. By taking this approach, you can usually hand over a fresh, hot, tasty slice to the customer in about 60 seconds.

The only downside is that your menu will be limited—only the pizzas that are already in the holding cabinet will be available, and you won’t be able to handle special orders with different or additional toppings. But if you’re looking for a fast turnaround, I don’t think you can beat 60 to 90 seconds!

For the type of operation you’ve got in mind, we normally start during the preopening hours and make par-baked pizza skins with half of the sauce applied. These pies can usually be stored on a covered rack at room temperature until they’re needed to prepare a complete pizza. To prepare the pizza, you need only apply the remainder of the sauce and the desired toppings and then bake it. The par-baking actually seems to help the slices hold up a little better in the temperature/humidity storage cabinet. As soon as the pizzas are baked, you can slice them and place the slices in the holding cabinet for up to about two hours.

QUESTION:

We always open our dough balls into pizza skins by table stretching. What is the best bench-top surface for this method of opening the dough balls?

ANSWER:

I think I’ve worked with just about every possible surface over the years. For this method of opening the dough balls, I’ve found that marble/granite or manmade quartz work very well, but both options are also quite expensive. The one surface that works well and doesn’t cost a lot is stainless steel. If a stainless steel bench top works with the ambiance of your pizza store, it will be hard to beat for cost, performance and durability.