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Creating something from nothing

From dough ball to focaccia bread, focaccia bun to sandwich bun, dough ball to calzone – how to increase profits and give customers variety, with minimal food costs


PHOTO COURTESY MAURIZIO MASCIOLI

Crazy title, right? How can something be made from nothing? Think of it this way: nothing already exists in a form called thin-crust pizza. If we break it down to its basic comments, it looks like this: a round dough ball, topping ingredients and a box. A pizzeria exists because of the dough ball it uses. Now if we change the form of that dough ball, we create a new menu item. In turn, we create a new revenue stream from few or no added costs. 

Based on frozen dough balls, focaccia bread, sandwiches and calzones, your overall annual sales can be boosted from a very conservative $31,000 to $140,000 or more depending on your marketing and work-flow efficiency. 

The frozen dough ball
COVID-19 is still here, and let’s face it, it’s sticking around longer than we had hoped. Many of our fellow restaurateurs have had their indoor seating shut down and been left with takeout and/or delivery. Yet, there’s another untapped revenue stream: homemade meal kits. By allowing the customer to make pizza at home, you give a new dimension to the experience once had at your establishment. The main ingredient that’s most difficult, if not impossible, to re-create is your pizza dough ball. So, let’s freeze it for the customer. However, it’s not just any frozen dough ball. To do this right, it’s a flash-frozen dough ball. Flash-freezing using a specialized freezer is the only way to seal in the freshness and hydration of any food product. 

Food costs: Expect 3-5% | Profit percentage: 2677%

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Focaccia bread
From pizza dough ball to focaccia bread. At Maurizio’s Pizzeria, we make one size of pizza using an approximately 230-gram dough ball. Now reimagine that dough ball stretched to form a bread bun – same volume, different shape. Bake in oven at 700 F for approximately 90 seconds, allow to cool. Do not cut. Buns keep fresh for two days refrigerated. When needed, slice in half, drizzle olive oil on both interior halves, crush Himalayan salt, kalamata olives, artichoke heart, rubbed basil, rubbed oregano and fresh rosemary. Bake for 90 seconds at 700 F. Remove from oven and, using a rocker knife, cut into slices perfect for any appetizer. 

Food costs: Expect 5-10% | Profit percentage: 1800%

Sandwiches
Focaccia bun to sandwich bun. Same concept applies – same baked bun, different toppings and different cut. Most guests that buy in groups have difficulty deciding on just pizza. We’ve found that a single household will buy for everyone in that household during the current Ontario stay-at-home order. That household becomes the “new group order.” Sometimes, not everyone is feeling like a pizza. The sandwich gives those guests variety. Providing the group with variety gives you opportunity to keep all the dollars being spent for lunch or dinner at your venue. 

Food costs: Expect 17-20% | Profit percentage: 546%

Calzone
Pizza dough ball to calzone. Same pizza-making concept applies – again just a different approach. Hand stretch pizza, add topping, herbs and spices to one side, fold over crust and finger-pinch edges to seal. Bake for approximately two minutes at 700 F, garnish with olive oil, additional herbs and spices, box and serve. As with sandwiches, the calzone adds that extra variety to your menu that manyother venues don’t offer. This puts your pizzeria at a higher percentage to claim the whole group seeking variety, time and time again.

The bottom line
There are many other products you can add to your menu. However, for the most part, your food costs may be much higher than for the items discussed. Plus, bringing in something new item means another item you need to buy with the possibility of additional spoilage. With focaccia, sandwiches and calzones, you already have all the ingredients to create them. You move through your ingredients faster, maintaining freshness, limiting spoilage, while increasing revenue and customer satisfaction. What’s more, you don’t need a wood-fired oven to create any of these baked items. All you need is a high-temperature fast-recovery oven. Also, keep in mind, focaccia bread, sandwiches and calzones make an excellent option for catering meals and/or delivery as they retain their crunch and hydration longer than your typical thin-crust pizza. 

Food costs: Expect 13% to 18% | Profit percentage: 675%

This formula will add extra value to your venue now and well into the future.  


Chef Maurizio Mascioli owns and operates Maurizio’s Pizzeria Inc. in Parry Sound, Ont. He is a volunteer firefighter for the Parry Sound Fire Department, two-time International Pizza Championship gold medal recipient and 2018 Master Chef recipient. He has received awards for outstanding customer service, entrepreneur of the year and business of the year from the Parry Sound Chamber of Commerce, and is an instructor for the School of Italian Pizza in Toronto.


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