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Making Dough with Diane: Implementing effective systems for your small pizzeria, part 3


Photo © 9dreamstudio / Adobe stock

This is the third part of a three-part series on how to use the power of great systems and checklists to improve your pizza operation’s efficiency and consistency. 

Pizzeria chains have efficient, short and precise written checklists for every area of their operation and for all types of job duties. 

Keep in mind that every pizzeria chain began as a single, independent operation: they were able to duplicate the successes of their first operation by putting in place efficient systems and processes. 

Checklists are inexpensive and easy to create and should be part of any pizzeria management system. Train your employees to use them as part of their regular schedules.

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Efficient systems are the only method for achieving a certain process in your restaurant that will ensure consistency and guest satisfaction, and they will also help you control your costs. By streamlining everyday operations, you will reduce and eliminate waste and inefficiency in your pizzeria. 

Here are four checklists and points you should consider when creating or updating them.

1. Preparation checklist

Here are some preparation checklist points that you should consider putting together:

  • Food items received in good condition, and stored at proper temperatures.
  • Detailed and exact recipes for all products.
  • Recipe cards are laminated, organized and easily accessible.
  • Pizza item photos are properly displayed.
  • Pizzeria’s inventory levels should be checked on a daily basis.
  • Prep par quantities should be evaluated regularly.
  • Thaw frozen products properly.
  • Refrigerated products should be kept in refrigerator.
  • Prep and portioning tools are always available in sufficient quantities.
  • Kitchen staff wear proper and clean uniforms.
  • Kitchen staff must use hair restraints and protective gloves.
  • Kitchen staff must display proper hygiene standards.
  • All employees wear slip-resistant shoes.
  • “No cut” gloves should be used in cutting areas.
  • Bottles of sanitizing solution are available at every station.
  • Daily prep lists should be prepared and posted prior to each shift.

2. Storage checklist

Here are some storage checklist points that you should consider putting together:

  • Apply the rule of first in, first out, known as “FIFO.”
  • Label all of your ingredients and supplies.
  • Use proper dry ingredient bins, insulated containers for perishable foods and condiments, and biodegradable labels.
  • Use strong and durable pizza shelving.
  • Food should be stored away from direct sources of heat and sunlight and placed off the floor and away from walls.
  • Organize and position your supplies by category
  • Find the best layout and draw up a map of your storeroom.
  • Food storage rooms should be clean, organized and locked.
  • Check temperature, light, air circulation and moisture in your storeroom.
  • Train your employees.

3. Safety checklist

Remind your staff to follow all guidelines and regulations that ensure safety. This is not only in the kitchen but throughout your pizzeria restaurant.  It should also cover the steps to keep employees safe from harm and customers safe from improperly prepared food. Here is a list of safety issues you need to consider:

  • Deal with spills as soon as they occur. 
  • Handle flour and powdered products carefully.
  • Identify all hazardous substances.
  • Use the correct cleaning products and proper equipment.
  • Wear appropriate footwear.
  • Repair any damaged surfaces.
  • Use the handrail when on steps and stairs.
  • Make all steps the same height, non-slip and visible.
  • Post warning signs/cones for wet or slippery surfaces.
  • Carry out regular gas, electrical, mechanical equipment and systems safety checks.
  • Ensure staff members are properly trained and competent.
  • Take time to discuss health and safety
    issues with your staff.

4. Cleaning checklist

As you know, cleaning isn’t a one-time daily chore, but something that needs to continue throughout the day. I do understand that major cleaning cannot be done during busy shifts, or when the pizzeria is open for business. Make a list of the after-hours and during-business cleaning tasks. Remind your employees that they all should keep their workspace clean and organized as they go about their duties. The cleanliness of your pizzeria will affect how your guests perceive your business and whether they choose to become repeat customers. Here is a list of things you need to consider:

  • Implement and maintain a robust and thorough cleaning program.
  • Prepare a daily, weekly and monthly cleaning schedule.
  • Assign employee schedules and frequency of tasks.
  • Rinse, wipe and sanitize sinks, faucets and all food contact surfaces as well as prep
    areas, including cutting boards, with an
    approved sanitized solution.
  • Empty grease traps.
  • Wipe clean, sanitize, and disinfect grill, griddle, range and hoods, flattop, fryers, coffee makers, beverage dispenser heads in the soda fountains, microwaves, toasters, meat slicers, ingredient bins, ovens, racks, vent hoods, refrigerators and coils, large equipment machines, and storage areas including shelving and floor pallets. 
  • Deep clean shelving, free-standing units, counters, tables, seats and benches, ceilings, walls, floors, baseboards, glass windows and sills, ledges, doors and door handles, light fixtures, mirrors, decorations or wall art, and restrooms.
  • Clean out and sanitize the ice machine and the freezer (every few months).
  • Wash rags, and towels in the washing machine, and put aprons and uniforms in separate laundry area.
  • Refill soap dispensers and replace empty paper towel rolls.
  • Clean any anti-fatigue mats.
  • Take out the trash and recycling.
  • Disinfect the waste disposal area and clean all the trash cans.
  • Don’t leave mops in buckets of water; the mop heads should dry when you stand them up.
  • Have a deep power-wash cleaning program every six months. 

I hope that I have convinced you of the critical importance of proper operational systems in your pizzeria. Keep in mind that your mission should be to delight your customers, so they keep coming back and telling others about your pizzeria.

Read part 1 and part 2 of this series.


Diane Chiasson, FCSI, president of Chiasson Consultants Inc., has been helping foodservice, hospitality and retail operators increase sales for over 35 years by providing innovative, revenue-increasing marketing strategies. Contact her at 416-926-1338 or chiasson@chiassonconsultants.com, or visit chiassonconsultants.com.